Coffee, Chess & Potpourri
Caruana starts the week as the hot favourite to win the upcoming Candidates Tournament due to his blistering Fischer-like victory at the just completed Tata Steel International. Two full points ahead of reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen!
Carlsen’s result was also pretty impressive, but I think he paid the price for participating in the blitz & rapid world championships held in Moscow in late December.
Caruana stayed home and relaxed, and as a result a tired Carlsen started Tata with — what was it — 6 or 7 straight draws? It makes all the difference!
These young players today often think that they are exceptions to the rule, but athlete burn out is a REAL factor when they don’t take a rest. At the top of the chess world these stars play between 300 and 400 games a year!
Just compare it with the time of Bobby Fischer: he would rarely play more than between 20 and 30 games a year; and when he qualified for the World Championship match against Spassky he took more than 6 months for rest and preparation. It is all about priorities.
Today I get the impression that most of the elite players are more interested in making money than in winning the world title. Kudos to Ian Nepo for withdrawing from Tata several weeks before it started, citing the need to rest. His next big tournament will be the Candidates Tournament.
Ju Wenjun defeats Goryachkina
Congrats to Wenjun for narrowly maintaining her title of Women’s World Champion. She needed to go to the tie-breaks, but a win is a win is a win. Alexandra Goryachkina , I thought, was the favourite, but she demonstrated a shocking lack of objectivity, constantly over pressing and/or playing on in dead drawn positions — just wasting her energy.
Sutovsky’s Delusions of Grandeur?
From the MSM (main stream media) perspective, the match was a non-event. Had it not been for the ‘hijab’ controversy of the Iranian chief arbiter (Bayat), then the match would have been completely ignored.
Of course, since the players are from China and Russia it would be expected that their national media would provide some coverage, which they did. But does this really count as ‘world wide coverage’? No, of course not!
Nor does ChessBase, ChessCom or Chess24 count as MSM coverage…I would think that Emil Sutovsky — the General Director of FIDE — should take a good close look at what is really happening with respect to chess coverage in the world. FIDE is going the way of the Dodo. It is getting less and less coverage each year!
Even when Sutovsky organized one of the Grand Prix tournaments in Jerusalem late last year, it was virtually COMPLETELY IGNORED by the Israeli media. Not to mention that not a single Israeli politician showed up. The writings of Emil on his FaceBook page — not just with regards to Women’s World Championship — often make me wonder on what planet he lives, because it is certainly not Earth!