18 May 2012

When Does the Game Start?

As you might expect, portions of the live broadcasts from the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match have been made available on Youtube. I watched the first four games on the official site, which prompted some reminiscing about World Championship Chess on TV, then missed all but the first few minutes of the fifth game, mainly because I first had other things to do and the game ended so quickly.

I was happy to see the start of that broadcast appear on my short list for this current episode of my Video Friday series. As in the first four games, the fifth featured host Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam of New in Chess. This time he was accompanied by GM Joel Lautier, who discussed the opening of the game.

Anand - Gelfand FIDE World Chess Championship 2012 Game 5 Part 1 (14:30) • 'Excerpts from the video broadcast'

At around 11:45 into the clip, ten Geuzendam mentions Lautier's involvement with Kramnik.

Q: You've also been involved in preparations for World Championship matches. People are often guessing how deep things go. How deep do things go these days? Is it possible to give an indication of what's going on behind the scenes?

A: Opening preparation has become extremely important. It started with Fischer and then Kasparov certainly strengthened that trend. With the advent of computers it's become critical, because you can analyze so many positions now with a computer. In a way it's even levelled the difference between players, because if you analyze for weeks with a computer then an average grandmaster can product high quality analysis as long as he's methodical and does a good job.

There's a tremendous amount of opening preparation that's been going on over the last 15 years. The difficulty is not to find new ideas. The difficulty is to remember all that you're preparing. The amount of variations is so huge. Obviously your oponent will keep trying to put you off track by playing some offbeat move at some point to get you out of your preparation. The pressure to remember the theory is enormous during games.

A recurring theme in the commentaries for all games has been guessing when each player starts to make original moves. When does the home preparation end and when does the real game start? Since each player can only guess about his opponent, I doubt that anyone knows for sure. • See also Part 2 of the same broadcast.

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