And now it is over…

With both the Beatles and chess peaking this year in terms of media coverage, at times I have felt like I am thirteen years old again.  But now the WCC match is over, and Magnus Carlsen has solidified his claim to GOAT.  Carlsen has now won five such matches, and he has always won when he has needed to.  Since he broke through the 2800 rating point, he has never fallen below it, not once.  As a study in “management,” he is most of all a study in consistency.  Nepo played even with him for five games, but then fell apart.  Carlsen does not fall apart.  Karjakin and Caruana played even with him for a whole match, but when the pressure was on in the rapid tiebreaks guess who was reaching new peaks?

I suspect this last match means the death of the slow classical format for the world championship.  The last three matches have been deadly dull.  You can cite particular reasons for the lack of excitement, but the fundamental problem is that the players are too good and a very well played chess game is a clear draw.  It is hard to see how that gets reversed.  On top of that the match format encourages risk-aversion and openings such as the Petroff for Black.  There is too much advance openings preparation.

A Carlsen-Firouzja rapid match is what I wish to see, and somehow I expect the market will oblige.  To have a repeat of what we just witnessed — even if the challenger shows up as the inspired player — just isn’t going to cut it.  The cost is that we may not have a well-defined world champion by the time the next cycle moves toward its climax.

So, as of today, I predict that chess fundamentally has changed and won’t go back.  No more Capablanca vs. Alekhine or Fischer vs. Spassky at slow speed.  That’s just going to mean too many drawish opening choices.

Addendum: Please put aside your barbaric talk about Fischer Random 960.  It obliterates the ability of the viewer to make sense of the board, so why bother?  The rapid matches sponsored by Carlsen and others already have shown there are simpler, more viewer-friendly, and more intuitive ways to restore excitement to the games.


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