Wednesday, November 6, 2013

World Chess Championship

We're on the verge of one of the most eagerly awaited World Championship matches ever. So what were the great matches, and which ones were eagerly awaited? I mean, Capablanca-Alekhine was a great match, but I don't think it had much of a build up as the only person who gave Alekhine a chance before the match was Alekhine himself. The all Soviet matches were probably eagerly awaited in the USSR, but it wasn't until we get to Spassky-Fischer that things really started to heat up. After that epic match, there were the cold war follow ups of Karpov-Korchnoi, and then the Karpov-Kasparov battles. Ok, since the 1993 split things have been a bit shonky. In fact, the matches since 1993 have been so unappealing that the latest New in Chess Magazine fails to mention the 2010 Anand-Topalov match in its list of World Championship matches without Russians/Soviets.

To be honest, I am looking forward to it and I'm not the only one. The number of articles about the match, the players, and anything else nearly related tot he World Championship or chess is cranking up every day. I've personally read articles by Shipov (New in Chess), Giri, Sasikiran, Negi, Kasparov and Harikrishna and have an article by Rogers to read (I've just seen a tweet by Nigel Short about a new article he has written). Nigel Short tweeted a couple of days ago that

already feels like the biggest title match in years - and they have not yet begun!

Tomorrow will see the opening ceremony and the games start on Saturday. And if one top game a day isn't good enough the European Team Championships starts tomorrow, though the Norwegian team aren't quite at full strength. It is an unbelievably strong tournament with over 20 players above 2700. Russia are the favourites, but Armenia and Ukraine are always good at team tournaments, while I'm hoping that the strongest English team in years can put on a good show.

One last thought about World Championship matches. If you're like me, then an upcoming match makes you think about previous events. And if you're like me, then there will be some matches that you know a lot about, and some that you know hardly anything about. For instance, I've not really looked much at the 3 Botvinnik-Smyslov matches from the 1950's. I'm not sure why, as these were full blooded contests. The first match in 1954 ended in a 12-12 tie with only 10 draws. Combative openings such as the French and the Grunfeld were regulars in this match. Smyslov won the next match in 1957 by 12.5-9.5 and this time there were more draws, though the play was still hard fought. The next year saw a rematch and Botvinnik bounced back to regain his title 12.5-10.5 in a sharp see saw match. So that was nearly 70 games in the space of 4 years with a slight edge to Smyslov overall. If you want to see combative, check out this game. It was the final win for Smyslov in his winning match of 1957. Botvinnik was already 2 points down and played the sharp Winawer to try to create complications and draw closer in the match. Instead, Smyslov saw his way through the complications and won the game (Botvinnik resigning after the first time control) and effectively the match. Let's hope that the oncoming 2013 match produces some breath taking, memorable games as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment