Fischer Random World Chess Championship - Day 3

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/29/2019 – World Champion Magnus Carlsen finished off Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So got the better of Ian Nepomniachtchi in the two semi-final matches which ended Tuesday. The Final match begins on Thursday. Live game commentary from 16:30 UTC (17:30 CET / 12:30 EDT) Note: Europe has already switched to Winter time! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Day 3

The Fischer Random World Championship semi-finals started with four "slow rapid" games in which players receiving 45 minutes for the 40 first moves, 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with no increment. Each win is worth 3 points, with 1½ points given to each player in case of a draw.

Day 3 was four fast rapid games played — 15 minutes plus 2-second increments — where each win is worth 2 points. Four blitz games — 3 minutes plus 2-second increments — will follow with each win is worth 1 point. Then, if necessary, an Armageddon tiebreak — 5/4 minutes, no increment, and Black advances if the game is drawn.

Full details below!

Live commentary

Download the PGN of Day 3 to examine the games in ChessBase.

Carlsen and So advance

Carlsen defeated Caruana and Wesley So dominated Ian Nepomniachtchi, thus Carlsen and So will face-off in the final beginning on Thursday.

Rank Name Score Rating
1 Carlsen, Magnus 12½/20 2876
2 Caruana, Fabiano 7½/20 2812
Rank Name Score Rating
1 So, Wesley 13/18 2767
2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 5/18 2776

Semifinals live commentary

Download the PGN of Day 2 to examine the games in ChessBase.

Download the PGN of Day 1 to examine the games in ChessBase. 

Jumble up the pieces

The first FIDE-endorsed Fischer Random World Chess Championship started, in fact, a little over six months ago. A number of online qualifier events were set up, with events for non-titled participants kicking off the championship. A little later the titled players entered the scene, until the brackets for the six 16-player knockout qualifiers were completed. 

Strong players like Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin or Jan-Krzysztof Duda were eliminated at the knockout stage, as six winners went through to the quarter-finals. While the knockout counted with twelve invited players, the quarter-finals included two starts that did not need to participate in any previous qualifier: Fabiano Caruana, as the last challenger for the world title in classical chess, and Hikaru Nakamura, as the former Fischer Random champion (Nakamura won the last Chess960 tournament held in Mainz, back in 2009).

The quarter-finals were organized in a way that only three players would go through. In the end, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi reached the semis that started this Sunday in Norway. The fourth semi-finalist is none other than world champion Magnus Carlsen, who defeated Nakamura in an unofficial match for the championship last year in Oslo

Fischer Random World Championship 2019

The opening ceremony before the four finalists begin their over-the-board confrontations took place on Saturday. In the drawing of lots, Magnus Carlsen was paired against Fabiano Caruana while Ian Nepomniachtchi was paired against Wesley So for the semis. Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi started with the white pieces.

The format 

Once again, the venue is the Henie Onstad Art Center in Høvikodden, a picturesque headland in the Bærum municipality. As usual, Norwegian TV is broadcasting the event for the national audience.

Fischer Random World Championship 2018

Norwegian state broadcaster NRK covered the event last year | Photo: Maria Emelianova / chess.com

Unlike last year, however, the semis and the finals will now be played across three different time controls — slow rapid, fast rapid and blitz. Each match-up will last three days, with the following timeline in place:

Days one and two: Two slow rapid games each day (four total) — 45 minutes for the 40 first moves, 15 minutes for the rest of the game. No increment. Each win is worth 3 points, with 1½ points given to each player in case of a draw.

Day three:

  • Four fast rapid games — 15 minutes plus 2-second increments. Each win is worth 2 points.
  • Four blitz games — 3 minutes plus 2-second increments. Each win is worth 1 point.
  • Tiebreaker: Armageddon – 5/4 minutes, no increment, Black advances if game drawn.

The semi-finals take place from October 27th until the 29th, while the final and the match for third place will take place from October 31st until November 2nd. Wednesday October 30th will be a rest day.

Fischer Random World Championship 2019

As shown in the image above, the players will be permitted to consult with a second during a small period of time before the games begin. The positions will be drawn using a Fischer Random generator 15 minutes before the rounds start. The participants will play the same position twice, one with each colour.

No theory

In our preview to last year's edition, we shortly analysed the effect that this format might have on the opening play of the participants. The conventional wisdom is that with 960 possible starting positions, opening theory more or less goes out the window, and players often cite this as a plus — being able to come to the game fresh and exercise creative judgement from move one without the burden of computer-checked theory committed to memory.  

Jon Ludvig Hammer, who has served as Carlsen's second as well as a chess commentator, has his doubts, in the long run:

I genuinely believe having Fischer Random as the main way of playing chess would lead to a massive increase in opening theory, very contrary to the beliefs of its supporters. Now though, when Fischer Random is more of a curiosity, it is very free of computer analysis in the opening.

The rationale for having the players play both colours is that some of the possible starting positions heavily favour one player — with White's score reaching upwards of 60% in chess engine tests for a few piece configurations, such as this one:

 

But as Hammer notes, in the unlikely event that this position (or one similarly unbalanced) does arise, the player getting the white pieces in the second game may have a significant chance to benefit from a crash course in opening theory between games.

Nepomniachtchi and So

Nepomniachtchi and So on Sunday | Photo: Lennart Ootes / frchess.com

Additional reporting by Macauley Peterson

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/3/2019 09:04
So Topalov had the exact opposite position of Hammer.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/3/2019 09:04
@genem, sorry I was not clear. Topalov said that the notion that people would have to memorize more theory in Fischer Random than in regular chess is ridiculous, because there is so much possible theory to memorize that it would be pointless to memorize anything because of the infinitesimal probability that a memorized position would come up. He was talking about events in which one did not get to know the position in advance and did not have access to an engine before the game. So all memorization would have been on all 960 positions. He said positive things about 960 and that it was refreshing not to have to do all the memorization for it.
genem genem 11/2/2019 10:26
@fgkdjlkag Topalov's concern about chess960-FRC requiring too much opening homework is why we should - "Discard the 'Random' from Fischer Random Chess!". Pick one legal chess960 start setup, and stick with it for a decade or so, or until its openings have been deeply analyzed and become excessively repetitive, with novel moves again not occurring until the early middlegame. Then switch to another chess960 setup, and so on.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/31/2019 08:05
Topalov was asked about the possible increase in opening theory from Fischer Random and said it was ridiculous, and he is right. How many tens of thousands of moves can someone memorize in-between games?

How many games is the 61.8% from the above position based on? If I remember the reference, the sample size was very small. And if the goal is to have the most even position possible, then why not discard the standard opening position in favor of a more balanced one from Fischer Random?
Galuna Galuna 10/29/2019 05:03
@celeje

Thanks for the info.
celeje celeje 10/29/2019 06:52
@Masquer:

Because Carlsen as the unofficial defending champion was seeded through to the semifinals.

@Galuna:

Nakamura did not qualify. I think Caruana knocked him out in qualification.
Galuna Galuna 10/28/2019 11:37
Why is Hikaru Nakamura not in this tournament ? Can someone please explain ?
Masquer Masquer 10/28/2019 10:16
"The quarter-finals were organized in a way that only three players would go through." (??)

Huh? What kind of quarterfinals are those where only three, not four players qualify? Can anyone explain?
macauley macauley 10/28/2019 08:43
@Mr TambourineMan - You’ll need to download the PGN and open in ChessBase software for now. Chess960 is not yet supported in our web game viewer.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 10/28/2019 10:46
Pls show the games
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