01 December 2016

World Championship Sizzle

My previous post, World Championship Fizzle, about the last match game at standard time control, contained more than a glimmer of hope for the rapid / blitz tiebreaks.

I watched the press conference, where the players said that they understood spectators might have been disappointed by the short, bloodless draw. They also pointed out that there will be considerable compensation in having the tiebreaks. [...] After the game 12 fizzle, the tiebreaks promise plenty of sizzle.

Sizzle they did. After two draws in the four game rapidplay mini-match, including a narrow escape by Sergey Karjakin in the second game, Magnus Carlsen won the last two games to retain the title of World Chess Champion. The post-game press conference is available in entirety on Youtube.

Magnus Carlsen Vs Sergey Karjakin - Rapid - Press Conference (31:32) • 'Published on Nov 30, 2016'

I picked out two key points that were especially revealing. Early in the press conference, GM Carlsen explained the quick draw in game 12.

As for the tiebreaks, I pretty much knew this was going to happen when we made a draw in the 11th game. [...] I felt good coming today. I had a few days of rest, days to prepare.

He later expanded on this in reply to a question from Chess.com's Peter Doggers.

It was an advantage for me that I didn't have to think about game 12 and he did. [...] I thought that playing four games instead of one seemed like a very good idea. Besides that, it was refreshing to play a bit faster after all these weeks.

In other words, before game 12 even started, Carlsen had planned the fizzle to give himself a head start in preparing for the tiebreaks. Later on, Agon's CEO Ilya Merenzon offered 'some numbers'.

90% of people followed the match on smartphones. Over 10.000.000 people from pretty much all countries in the world followed the championship live on the official website. Over 10.000 people attended the championship live. Over 400 media organizations were accredited here. Total media value of coverage was over $25.000.000.

Congratulations to GM Carlsen on winning the title for a third time. Congratulations to GM Karjakin for being a true world-class competitor. I hope that we see both players in World Championship competitions -- at any level -- for many years to come.

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