24 May 2012

World Championship History as it Happens

Every day it's the same routine. I spend the morning doing whatever has to be done for that day. When the Anand - Gelfand match starts at 13:00 local time, I watch the game until it ends a few hours later. I try to work on something else at the same time, but the commentary is usually so compelling that I end up dropping whatever else to watch it. Then I scramble to find something to post on this blog.

Today the tenth game ended in a draw, leaving only two games to be played. The match is tied at five all (+1-1=8) so we are guaranteed to see the last two games, when anything can happen. A recurring criticism of the match is that it is too short, but how long should it be? While working on the post Anand - Gelfand, Petrosian - Botvinnik, from my World Championship blog, I found a relevant quote.

Botvinnik wrote that it was only possible to play 16-18 games at full strength in a world championship match. As to the question of why the rules specified 24 games, the only answer was 'Tradition!'. In his last years, the Patriarch understood this as 'a sign of respect to the players of the past'. • From Karpov's 'Foreword' to 'Botvinnik - Petrosian : The 1963 World Chess Championship Match' by Botvinnik (p.7)

Two years ago, during the 2010 Anand - Topalov match, I tackled the question of optimum match length in Intermediate Scores as a Match Predictor. Although I can't say how statistically significant the numbers were, the results showed that the winners of a 24-game match were never losing at the 12, 14, or 16-game stage. Tied matches were a different story. The answer to 'How many games?' depends on your point of view. The fans want as many as possible, as long as they are interesting. The players want enough to show a just outcome. The organizers want no more than their budgets -- whether time or money -- can support.

After today's game I started to look at ideas for this post. First I considered a piece on Alekhine's Defense, as suggested in my previous post on Unusual 1.e4 Responses According to Khalifman. This was too big a topic to prepare in an hour or two. Then I gathered notes for a post on the earliest Informants. Although I found sufficient material, none of it was compelling enough to stand on its own. Making a coherent post out of the hodgepodge again seemed too big a task.

One of my mottos in blogging is 'When there are no other ideas, show a picture'. I started looking through my stash of chess related images and found a couple of cartoons by Halldór Pétursson on the 1977 Spassky - Hort Candidates match. He's the same Icelandic artist well known for his cartoons of the 1972 Fischer - Spassky match. I once documented the 1972 series in a post titled Halldor Petursson Cartoons.

I have no idea who are the two other gentlemen in the image on the right. At least this post ended in a subject related to the World Championship and gave me some opportunities to link to various odds and ends.

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