2016 WC match tied at half-way point
Time to pause and reflect !
Is this a boring match?
Not at all! I consider this match to be one of the most interesting in a long time at the WC level. Although all 6 games have been drawn, both players have been fighting. No draw was agreed in a position where there was still some reasonable play left, and 3 of the games (ie.half of the games so far) were fought to the bitter end.
Further, although it is very possible to argue that 3 of the games should have had a decisive result, the level of defence was very high and every winning try was frustrated. Neither player is making more than 2 or 3 inaccuracies in each game.
One must also remember that Kasparov vs Anand (NYC 1995) saw the first 8 games ending in a draw.
Who is the ”moral victor” at half-time?
No doubt Sergey Karjakin! His play has gotten better in each game, and it is clear from the press conferences that his spirits are high and his confidence is growing. Carlsen, on the other hand, appears tired and, at times depressed, at the press conferences. Magnus has been unable to profit from two very promising positions, disappointing his large fan-base.
Is main-stream US media covering the match?
Yes and no. Naturally there has been a lot of interest outside of the USA, but chess remains a difficult sell in America because there are just too many top-level sporting events competing for premium coverage. On top of that, an American is not playing. And also worth mentioning: this title match has the lowest prize fund in years.
The first weekend a couple of articles appeared: in the NYTimes as well as the Washington Times, but the other major news papers have largely ignored the match, or just payed lip-service to it, such as USA-Today. So far, anyway. ABCnews (on-line) wrote a short blurb, as did CBSnews (on-line). Today I could only find the Washington Times cover any news about game 6.
As for TV coverage, not much has happened, though CBS did a nice piece the other day:
What about the LIVE chess coverage?
As already explained elsewhere on this blog, the AGON organizers failed to get exclusivity with respect to on-line LIVE transmission of moves (they are appealing), and as a result numerous other sites have LIVE coverage. Some of it better than the official AGON coverage, in many viewers’ opinions.
UNFORTUNATELY, chess is not very user-friendly when it comes to things such as streaming or live video coverage, and the practical result is disaster whenever the games go on for more than 3 hours. As I wrote the other day, when a grandmaster commentator is forced to work for 5 or 6 hours straight (or until the game finishes) then the whole exercise usually becomes embarrassing. Associations with ‘slave-labour’ come to mind, not to mention that it is an abuse to our sensibilities when an organizer does not know when to stop.
Besides, no spectator in his right mind would consider this an acceptable way to promote an event. The only good thing about the AGON coverage is Anastacia Karlovich and her press conferences. We should all be looking into why this is so.
Chess lacks drama. Naturally. One of the reasons that Fischer made chess popular back in the good old days (1972) is that he created incredible drama off the board. First he refused to go to Iceland. Then he refused to make an easy draw in game 1, preferring to give up a piece and even lost the game. Next he forfeited the 2nd game….soon the world was eating out of his hands because he had created the best show in town!
Nobody since Bobby Fischer has been able to duplicate this type of drama, and it is unlikely that anyone ever will. Merely dumping online hours and hours of LIVE streaming of the Carlsen vs Karjakin chess match is no way to promote the match.
The only good alternative, in my opinion, is to edit and then put a quality edited version of the game online, within 24 hours. Any person involved with film editing will tell you that you can create drama and excitement with cinematic craftmanship.
In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s the BBC did an excellent TV series on top level matches/tournaments that featured some of the world’s top players (Karpov, Spassky, etc). The series received great reviews. I suggest my readers to take a look at some of this series (do a Google search) and you will surely understand why the LIVE coverage of the Carlsen vs Karjakin match is a really poor alternative.
Is the chess-media biased in Carlsen’s favour?
Absolutely! (Infact, even the US mainstream media is biased in Carlsen’s favour, but that is probably more because Karjakin is a Russian.) As has been pointed out by many objective onlookers, the AGON-selected group of official commentators is blatantly biased, as are a number of the more popular chess sites.
However, I would not be so harsh on those accused of being biased. This is a sporting event, and as such one is allowed to get carried away. Have you ever met an objective football fan? (No such animal exists…)
( To be continued )