Speelman: How will Karjakin fare against Carlsen?

3/30/2016 – After a fortnight and a bit of ferocious combat we can now congratulate Sergey Karjakin on becoming Magnus Carlsen's next challenger. It's been a roller coaster ride of wildly swinging emotions and will certainly merit much examination in retrospect. GM Speelman looks at it not only from a historical point of view, but also from personal experience as a player and as a second.

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How will Karjakin fare against Carlsen?

By Jon Speelman

For the moment I'd like to look forward to the Carlsen vs Karjakin  match, currently scheduled for New York in November and discuss Karjakin's chances. First though, a digression as to what the world championship entails.

I've observed two championship matches as a second and been the principal in four Candidates matches. Admittedly, it was a long time ago, but I still remember the ever-present and sometimes crushing tension, the wild emotion which you have to try to keep in check, and the sheer physical strain.

The matches (even just in the Candidates) are utterly compelling, hijacking your life for months in advance, pummelling you body and mind for their duration and leaving aftershocks that can last for years or decades.

To illustrate this, let's start with one of the most famous final positions in chess history:

After 22(!) games of their world championship match in Moscow 1951, and with two to go, David Bronstein was leading Mikhail Botvinnik by a point. With a white to come in game 24, he needed to avoid defeat in game 23, to give himself a huge chance of becoming champion.

Botvinnik had only been champion three years when he saw his title almost go to Bronstein

However, after sacrificing a pawn, Botvinnik got an endgame with two bishops against two knights and began to "Patriarch" Bronstein (I can hardly use first or even surname for "The Patriarch") in the manner  that Carlsen has "Magnussed" his opponents in modern times. After the adjournment Botvinnik's advantage increased and in the diagram after 57.Bg5 putting him into zugzwang, Bronstein thought 40 minutes before resigning.

Botvinnik easily drew the final game against a dispirited Bronstein who
was haunted by game 23 for the rest of his life and would still sometimes
bring it up in conversation three or four decades later.

We fast forward more than three decades to the final game of the fourth match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Champion since the end of the second match, Kasparov had to win this game to equalise and so retain his title. He maintained the tension by starting with a slow Reti and finally won a pawn adjourning in this position. Of course, he managed to convert and retain his title. Perhaps the most interesting lesson of this game though was in the opening  choice: a slow burner can often put more pressure on the opponent than an attempted blitzkrieg.

Here Kasparov sealed 42.Kg2

Live footage of the moments before and when Kasparov adjourned this dramatic game to save his title

The games in a match are played in real time but there is, of course, enormous preparation both before and during the event itself. Some critical moments are opportunities that occur during the games but others are more regarding planning.

The famous double blunder in the second Carlsen vs Anand match is an obvious case of the former. After 26.Kd2?? Anand replied 26...a4? after a minute's thought, missing that 26...Nxe5! would have obliged Carlsen to fight for his life in a game he later won.

The moment Carlsen played his move, one can see the hesitation as he writes his move, realizing the terrible
blunder he made. After Anand misses it, Carlsen is so shaken up he buries his head in his arms more than once.

With a number of games to play against the same opponent timing can be crucial and this is best exemplified by one of the matches I was a second at.

After a series of draws, Anand had broken the deadlock against Kasparov by winning game nine, their fifth Scheveningen after a transposition from the Najdorf. (ie starting 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6)

In his previous whites, Kasparov had probed in a Nimzo-Indian and then a Reti, discovered that Anand was  playing the Open Spanish in game six and temporised with a Scotch in game 8. Anand now had to decide whether to continue with the Open Spanish or unleash his surprise weapon the Centre Counter.

Playing his first World Championship match, Anand faced Kasparov in 1995

He continued with the Open Spanish but ran into a massive theoretical punch and got slaughtered. With perfect timing, Kasparov then shifted to the Dragon, caught Anand on the hop and won that too.

Anand shifted to a different Spanish in game 12 and drew but he lost a second Dragon as White and by the time he finally tried the Centre Counter in game 14, although he got a fine position he lost that too.

The timing was everything and had Anand thwarted Kasparov by shifting to the Centre Counter in game 10 then the course of chess history might again have been quite different.

Kasparov v Anand New York 1995 game 10. After 13.bxc3 Qd3 Kasparov hit
Anand with a massive theoretical blow 14.Bc2!!

After this extended digression, we return to Carlsen vs Karjakin.  I've seen some online discussion which dismisses Karjakin's chances but he played a tremendous tournament in Moscow and the very act of qualifying will have tempered him (in the sense of increasing his strength).

He now has about seven months to prepare and there are (at least) three absolutely key areas.

The first is the obvious one of deciding on the openings he wants to play and preparing the lines to a very high standard. It's what he and all the players of this computer age do every day though the demands of a world championship, in which In particular he will have to defend himself six times as Black, are qualitatively higher than in nay other event.

Secondly there is physical fitness. A match takes a huge toll on the body as well as the mind and during one of my Candidates matches of a fortnight or so my opponent had apparently lost nearly six kilos. Karjakin is a young guy and must be pretty fit already, but he will need to be absolutely sure that he's as near as possible to his peak when he plays Magnus.

The third crucial element will be how to counter Carlsen in the quiet positions he plays so magnificently. You have some control over what positions you get in a match but it is the natural entropy of a chess game to decay to some sort of more or less tense endgame and you can't expect  to avoid these entirely.

When Alexander Alekhine took on and beat the supposedly unbeatable Jose Raoul Capablanca in 1927 he embraced his opponent's apparently dull style to compete with him. Karjakin really ought to do some similar work regarding Carlsen. This would presumably involve playing quiet but tense positions against a really strong opponent. In the absence of Carlsen himself, Vladimir Kramnik is the obvious choice if he's available. Otherwise there are a number of other very good technicians and one possibility is even (so great a monster is Carlsen) for Karjakin to train against a "centaur" - a strong endgame player with a limited amount of computer assistance but not the really silly lines they generate.

However well he prepares for Carlsen, Karjakin will have to face the initial shock of playing him for the world championship. In 1963, Tigran Petrosian in his first game against Mikhail Botvinnik played in his own words "roughly at first category player strength, not even at candidate master" By game five after three draws, he scored a very famous victory and went to defeat Botvinnik.

Petrosian v Botvinnik (1963), game five. Adjourned position

In spite of playing dreadful in the first games, per his own words, Petrosian was able to
get himself together and win a brilliant game in the fifth game and turn the match around

In the first of his many matches with Anatoly Karpov, the young Garry Kasparov, still a weaker player, was crushed in the early games and it took until game 32 of the "Moscow Marathon" for him to score his first win.

Karjakin, with just a twelve game match, obviously has much less time to adapt. But he has a perfectly reasonable score against Carlsen and has beaten him several times. (Ignoring blindfold and blitz games I make it +6 -5 =17 to Carlsen but would need verification on this).

After winning Moscow, Karjakin is up to 2779.2 on the unofficial live ratings still 72 points behind Carlsen or about an expected score of 59% - 41% in Carlsen's favour.

Given Carlsen's huge extra experience in  world championship match play I would put it at rather more than that maybe as much as 2-1 but not much more and certainly less than 3-1.

About the author

Jon was born in 1956 and became a professional player in 1977 after graduating from Worcester College Oxford where he read mathematics. He became an IM in 1977 a GM in 1980 and was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980-2006.

Three times British Champion he played twice in the Candidates reaching the semi-final  (of what was then a knockout series of matches) in 1989 when he lost 4.5 - 3.5 to Jan Timman. He's twice been a second at the world championship for Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.

He's written the Observer (weekly) since 1993 and The Independent since 1998. With its closure (going online but without Jon on board) he's expanding online activity and is also now offering online tuition.

He likes puzzles especially (cryptic) crosswords and killer sudokus.

If you'd like to lambast Jon or otherwise he can be contacted via his email

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Chessking57 Chessking57 5/4/2016 08:27
Greetings,chess base community, as a avid chess player the booked up player wins the game. Most people think that the player with the most expearance will win that's simple logic. However,anything is possible if the player who wants more will win. This where Carlsen out shines most other players in the chess world.
As Bobby Fischer said"all there is to chess is good moves!". May the best prepared player win!!
jefferson jefferson 3/31/2016 05:06
Fivethirtyeight ran 100,000 simulations of the Anand-Carlsen 2014 match and concluded with 0 draws and ALL decisive games, a 70-point elo difference between them would predict Carlsen winning the match 75% of the time. This is the same rating difference currently between Karjakin and Carlsen, so I think we can assume similar findings if they ran the same simulation for this match. The only problem is the simulations don't really understand draws and tell us how it changes things. For example, Fivethirtyeight also concluded that with 75% draws Carlsen was >90% favorite to win the match, but this can't be true if you think about it. If Anand had drawn all black games and all his white games were decisive, surely this would help his chances! The link to the article is here: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/magnus-carlsen-world-chess-championship/
ubernomics ubernomics 3/31/2016 04:34
The question is what Karjakin's true strength, currently. We don't know if 2779 reflects that accurately, since he has been on a months-long upsurge. His rating history shows him peaking in 2011 (five years ago) at 2788, and then fall out of top ten for awhile. He is only age 26. Has he made another jump?

Again, his elite pedigree suggests to me that he is potentially capable of coming back with unusual force.

And he is a professional (i.e., AFAIK, a full-time player). So he's been working on his game since 2011. And he has the advantages of the Soviet system, which should not be underestimated.

Speaking from afar, without inside knowledge, I just get the sense that he is potentially a seriously dangerous opponent for Carlsen.

But only a strong player who has been watching him closely with a discerning eye would know.
thlai80 thlai80 3/31/2016 03:28
@vidivaclav, Kramnik however has been a thorn to Kasparov all the while even before the 2000 match and was consistently world #2 behind Kasparov. Before their match Kasparov has only +1 or even score (if I recall correctly) after like over 50 games and at that time, Kramnik practically is one of the only few active players with the most wins vs Kasparov at that time.

On top of that, of course we now know on hindsight of Kasparov marriage and personal troubles at that time.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/31/2016 12:29
@ vladivaclav : This victory was essentially due, in my opinion, to a very intelligent and effective preparation by Kramnik, that clearly compensated the Elo difference. Such a situation is always possible, but is very rare ; I don't really see it happening in the Carlsen - Karjakin match, but, if it would nonetheless happen, it would clearly be a very interesting situation : we'll see if it happens in november !...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/31/2016 12:19
@ RaoulBertorello - @ x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk : I think this can depend on the moment someone begin to interest itself to competitive chess : for exemple, I really began to follow seriously competitive chess with the Anand - Topalov match, in 2010, and, for me, the Anand - Kramnik and Anand - Topalov matches where quite at the same level of interest as the Kasparov - Karpov era, for exemple : matches between great players, closely matched. I followed too with great interest all the following matches, but, clearly, Gelfand wasn't quite at the same level as Anand (even if, in this match, Anand had paradoxically more difficulties than in the matches with Kramnik and Topalov), and, even if Anand is a very great champion, Carlsen has demonstrated that he is not quite in the same league as Anand (6 - 1 as a global score for the two matches was sufficiently crushing in my opinon to show clearly this fact, and I think that, for the moment, the same goes for every other player than Carlsen), so, for me, the interest in these two last matches was more to have a demonstration of supreme level play by Carlsen, against a nonetheless very great player, Anand than to have a closely contested match. It is very interesting for me, too, but not as fascinating as when the two players are of a very close level (as Anand - Kramnik or Anand - Topalov) : it is more a "demonstration" than a "struggle"...

For me, there isn't any problem with the computer, as I come to competitive chess in the computer era : I take the computer exclusively as a tool, used by the players to help them in their preparation. For me, it is the same thing as an engineer that uses a computer for his work : the final work isn't the work of the computer, but of the engineer. And, for me, the fact that the computers can beat the best human players is not relevant : what I find interesting is the struggle and the interactions between supremely gifted players that can play chess at an incredibly high level in comparison with the level in chess that an amateur (even gifted) can have. In a nutshell, for me, what counts is not the fact that a computer can beat a top-level player, but the fact that the difference between a top-level player and an amateur is colossal.

What is very important for me, too, is that the players can express there style in chess : when you have Carlsen, Anand, or Topalov, they will not create the same games. The players are not "under-computers" : they have a distinct style, and the games of each player will have a different "flavour". And to know that computers would play "better chess" than the human players is not a problem at all for me, because computers don't really play the same chess (stylistically speaking) than the human players.
vladivaclav vladivaclav 3/31/2016 11:25
Many think that it will be easy walkover for Carlsen because of ELO gap between these two. I remind that most people also expected Kasparov would crack Kramnik in 2000 because of significant (+70 ELO) difference. Karjakin will be difficult opponent for Carlsen for sure.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 3/31/2016 10:45
@x_ileon: I do, and the reason is that computers beat Kasparov while he was the world champion. That was the point of no return: ever since everybody knows any personal computer, and now any smartphone too can beat the current world champion. That event and the following awareness stripped the game of all its magic, which till then had reflected into the best players supernatural air of anointed people with a special gift from the gods.
solskytz solskytz 3/31/2016 07:35
THe article is very interesting - and the author's experience in WCH and near-WCH situations is very obvious from his writing.

However, there's an error near the end: the 0.41 / 0.59 score probability, derived from the two players' ratings, applies to ONE GAME.

In any one game, Carlsen is expected to score 0.59 and Karjakin - 0.41

This means that the most probable match score, should probably be something in the order of 7-5 in favor of Carlsen.

But this DOESN'T mean that Carlsen's chances to win the entire match are 59%! By far.

I don't know how to calculate this, but the statistic result, given the rating differences should be much more than 59% for Carlsen - statistically (Kramnik beat Kasparov from a comparable rating deficiency though). I would guess that it's at least 85% - again, statistically and from the ratings.

Tomorrow Karjakin may gain 20 points and Carlsen lose 20 - which will upset this whole calculation.
thlai80 thlai80 3/31/2016 07:28
The only possibility of Karjakin winning would be Carlsen over confident and doesn't give due preparation. We saw that in the 2nd match with Anand, where Carlsen during interview admitted that he expected a walk in the park and thus have been slacking in preparation. He felt the heat when Anand cracked him and then only started to give serious thoughts and plays.

The gulf in talent and skill is similar to Yifan vs Mariya. As much as Karjakin can prepare, the real ability will show during the latter part of the game and this will be enough for Carlsen to win a few games. Unless Karjakin can surprise Carlsen with 2-0 in the 1st two games, Carlsen will win the match easily, in 10 games.

@scoobedoo, this reminds me of Carlsen himself. Watch his videos of how he beat his own Chess app, he explained and made it so easy; his feel of the positions and understanding of the game allows him to do very little calculations, but these are calculations that matters. Even just watching these videos help improve one's skill immensely.
Francis Pogi Francis Pogi 3/31/2016 06:25
I wonder how they air the games? Is it live without delay for every move? I hope they would put a little delay for the moves, e.g. 2 moves delay in & out of the playing hall, as only the player themselves can see the real time move., as you know this is a COMPUTER ERA...
x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk 3/31/2016 04:18
I think Karjakin will show greater psychological resilience v Magnus than did Anand. Apart from that, two very different challengers with very different styles, though I think it's fair to say that Anand, in his era, was a greater player than Karjakin is in our present time.
Now, with regards to beating Carlsen, I agree with Speelman's odds. I'm a Carlsenite as I really like the style he has brought to chess, but I also like to route for the underdog, so all in all, I just hope they will be interesting games so that, whoever may win, the big winner at the end of it is chess itself!
By the way, does anyone else feel that the last really great historic final was decades ago in the Kasparov Karpov duels? (cos I don't get the same sense of struggle and grandeur with subsequent events) And prior to that of course there's Fischer Spassky, Alekhine Capa and Capa Lasker
ubernomics ubernomics 3/31/2016 03:46
1. Carlsen does NOT have the stability of a Soviet-school trained Karpov, Kasparov, or Kramnik. Despite his rating advantage, he is indeed weirdly "vulnerable" at times.
2. Karjakin is young, strong, and in good form. And has shown improvement.
3. In a twelve-game match, if Karjakin can draw skillfully as needed, one or two decisions in his favor could decide the match. As we saw with Kasparov, who was on the ropes against Karpov (prior to winning the title), and Kraminik in victory, top GMs can switch gears into draw mode.
4. Karjakin has elite pedigree. As youngest GM in world history, and arrival in the top-ten years ago, prior a slight dip. Young players oftentimes consolidate and have stronger, second wind.

My odds from the peanut gallery: Carlsen-Karjakin at 80-20%.

To someone like me who has not the time to carefully evaluate Karjakin's recent strength (and who may not be strong enough to distinguish 2770 playing-level moves from 2850): (1) Carlsen be heavy favorite, with burden of proof upon Karjakin (2) however, the latter's victory does not seem out of the question.

Karjakin, even if inferior in strength, can play safe and solid, along with opening preparation to try to surprise in a few games, and in a twelve game match, this is extremely dangerous for Carlsen. I presume Karjakin will be (1) mentally prepared to equal the Carlsenian stamina in prog-style sitzkrieg, and (2) have the youthful energy to do so.

I think Karjakin's mental readiness, plus Carlsen's tendency to be complacent, revel in slacker behavior, to go into cruise control, makes for especial danger. If Carlsen does not show up at his best, Karjakin will roll him up.
Bojan KG Bojan KG 3/31/2016 12:15
Vishy Anand was on par with MC last time around (Sochi 2014). Crucial point of the match was game 6 and terrible blunder by Carlsen which was followed by Anand's blunder. Having lost this game great Indian master was never able to recover and, as we know, he lost two more games and it was all over. I am absolutely convinced that Carlsen would not have defended title if he had lost game 6 (with white pieces). With only 6 games remaining and fact that MC is very vulnerable under pressure I think Anand would have regained title. First match in Chennai was very one-sided, immense pressure was on Anand's shoulders playing in his home country against young challenger and I got a feeling Vishy was afraid of Magnus. Second match, as I said, was different story. Anand had chances but he blew it. Norwegian is a chess genius but he is human after all and last year he proved that by losing so many games where he was simply crushed. Although he is distant first on rating list I can not remember any strong tournament where he won by large margin so he is not invincible by any means. There is no luck in chess but in London last year against Grischuk he was in completely lost position when Russian blundered giving him first place in last round. Last superstrong tournament where someone was utterly dominant was Sinquefield 2014 where Fabi played like Komodo. Kramnik was underdog against all-mighty Kaspy but he won, Gelfand almost did the same vs Anand. One thing which makes me angry is WC match format - 12 games is unacceptably low number of games for the most important title in chess. Recently finished Yifan-Muzychuk match had 10 games format??? I find these format complete nonsense. 24 games format was very good. In 12 games format if you have bad start chances of recovering are very slim whilst in 24 games you have plenty of time to bounce back and even to turn the tables. Some FIDE rules I simply can not understand and many chess fans share my opinion.
vincero vincero 3/30/2016 10:25
a couple of things....it is not possible to know..but i agree it is fun to guess at...who will win...personally i see magnus winning by 2 points...but..i do not eliminate the possibility that karjakin...having achieved this candidates win...is about to start playing on a new increased much stronger level...the level many anticipated....but never achieved..commensurate with his becoming the youngest GM ever in chess.

but..more important..i as SOOOOOOOOOO GLAD i recognized...what chess can do to your brain when i was young and decided that i would not study the game beyond what it took me to be a reasonable player....remembering games 40 years later..while being haunted by them that entire time......was something i did recognize...and made sure would never happen to me.
something only other serious players would understand.......and have sympathy for...guys like poor Bronstein...scary stuff..indeed.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/30/2016 09:14
@ keithbc6472 : For the first Carlsen - Anand match, I quite agree with you : I think that Anand wasn't confident in his play. But for the second match, I think that, as he had no more the pressure of being the World Champion, and as his very convincing victory in the 2014 Candidates had given him much more confidence (he was a very "legitimate" challenger : he had beaten everyone else with a significant margin), this was no more the case, and that, in this second match, Carlsen's victory was only due to his superior chess strength.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/30/2016 08:59
@ idratherplay 960 : I must say that I am not quite convinced by your arguments ! Firstly, Karjakin only won one time against Carlsen in classical games and it was in 2012 : for me, one win only, and four years ago, isn't really a significant result. And, secondly, yes, Karjakin has very good results recently (his victory in the Candidates was for me especially convincing), but the problem is that I think that, for the moment, there isn't really anyone that can be a real menace for Carlsen. And good results against other players don't mean in the least that it would go the same way against Carlsen.

Personally, I would "bet", for the Carlsen - Karjakin match, on no more than one win for Karjakin, and a global win for Carlsen with a minimum margin of two points (2 - 0 or 3 - 1, not counting draws). And I would think that the most probable result would be a 3 - 0 (because I don't think probable that, for his first match against Carlsen, Karjakin will fare quite as well as Anand in the second Carlsen - Anand match : Karjakin has approximatively the same Elo level that Anand, but has much less experience, and I think this will tell, against so difficult an opponent as Carlsen).

I'm quite curious to see if the results of this match will be in agreement with my "predictions"...
jones99 jones99 3/30/2016 08:45
Carlsen will win. Karjakin is an enterprising player, but Carlsen is better overall and is much more experienced in match play. Is Karjakin the most dangerous challenger? Well, I wonder if other people think the old system of candidates matches would have produced a better challenger? The old system certainly had the advantage of acclimating players to match play.
scoobeedo scoobeedo 3/30/2016 07:31
Some words to Jon Speelman:

If you really want to get better and can afford the moderate teaching fee from Jon, I strongly advice you ... do it!

I was sitting sometimes on a table when Jon was analyzed chess positions. It is incredible what a feeling for this game he have.

Jon is not just teaching chess, he will change your way how you see chess.

You will get a eye for positions and you will have a deep understanding of this game. I guess that a player between 2000-2300 who had a while the special sessions with Jon will easy improve 80-100 Elo points.

I have seen many world class players analyzing after the games. And Jon Speelman was one of the players who impressed me the most ...

- - -

To make this very clear:
I am not connected with Jon Speelman and I do not get commision for this comment.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 3/30/2016 07:17
"After winning Moscow, Karjakin is up to 2779.2 on the unofficial live ratings still 72 points behind Carlsen or about an expected score of 59% - 41% in Carlsen's favour."

That is in one or a few "unrelated" games. Statistics for matches are a bit more even in nature. If someone run away for ex. the match ends, so it even have a mathematical prof, not even considering the diffrent nature of a matchs inpact on expected score.

And we have Draws say 3/4 games as was the standard for games in the candidates. In a 12 game match that is a result in only 3 games. Well flip a 100 sided dice with 41 sides with K on it and 59 with C on it. But I guess it would be to easy. What we need is some computer guys from a University runing their computers for Days with billions of simulation...

ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/30/2016 06:19
it will be an interesting match and won't be a cakewalk for the winner!
hpaul hpaul 3/30/2016 05:28
The 8th player in Norway Chess will be 22-year old Nils Grandelius of Sweden. He just won a 4-player dbl round robin against Jon Ludvig Hammer, Hou Yifan, and Aryan Tari, a Norwegian Jr. player (GM). Nils has a rating in the 2650's, hovering around the edge of the top 100.
I prefer to watch tournaments where one or several of the players is not at the elite level. That often gives the geniuses a chance to show some tactics that are rarely on display when the top few play each other.
Danaus Danaus 3/30/2016 03:58
All of this is known but Speelman makes an excellent summary of the points. I also agree with his 2:1 estimate about the outcome. My personal guess is also that Magnus will also do some adjustment in the sense of relying less on his stamina and precision and trying to get more out of the opening. He also has a better chance to achieve that because, with all respect, Karjakin isn't as deeply booked up as Anand was. And, as Jan Gustafsson said, Karjakin has this slightly weak spot where, coming right out of the opening, he struggles to optimize his position. Given that he defends so precisely afterwards, Magnus would be well-adviced to try to get some excellent positions at this point.
In any case it'll be a fantastic match. Karjakin will be very motivated and although he might not be the genius that Magnus is, he's a very tough nut to crack. Magnus will definitely need all his skills.
idratherplay960 idratherplay960 3/30/2016 03:20
Karjakin won the world cup, rejoined the world's top ten and won the candidates, and has a not too shabby career score versus Magnus even before he was doing all of the above. Anyone thinking he doesn't stand a chance is just not thinking. Karjakin also happens to be the real reigning Norway Chess champ and we will all see soon enough how Magnus handles Karjakin at that same event this year. My guess is they draw but I like Karjakin's chances to chalk up a third victory in Norway in what will be one of the strongest tournaments ever (can't wait to see who the wild card is, hope they don't waste it like last year)...
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 3/30/2016 03:00
Interesting analysis. Thank you. It's too bad the match will be so short. Not a the best of tests, IMO.
danichess danichess 3/30/2016 02:53
Carlsen is going to kick Karjakin's ass
ChiliBean ChiliBean 3/30/2016 02:46
Amazing moments in chess. Thanks!
Crazymo Crazymo 3/30/2016 02:38
I think Carlsen is unbeaten for almoust 50 games @keithbc6472
keithbc6472 keithbc6472 3/30/2016 01:41
Despite Anand's great tournament and match record, I think he was a little scared of Carlsen. Same happened with Kasparov. He was psychologically defeated by both.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/30/2016 01:27
There can always be a surprise... (And it would be very interesting if it would turn out to be the case...)

But, nonetheless, for me, I think that the chances for that are really extremely small.

Anand was World Champion, was beaten by Carlsen a first time, won after this easily and cleanly the 2014 Candidates, was beaten a second time by Carlsen, and, after, was another time world no. 2 behind Carlsen at the Elo ranking (in May 2015), with a 2800+ ranking (2804, to be precise). When you take all these elements at the same time, it is I think clear that Carlsen's victory over Anand is very significant : he didn't beat at all a "weak" Anand, but an Anand who was still able to win a Candidates tournament against all the best players with a significant margin, and of being at a given moment above everyone else (except obviously Carlsen) in terms of Elo rating. And the global score of the two matches was crushing : 6 - 1 (not counting the draws) ! The most extraordinary thing being that Anand performed approximatively at his normal level in terms of Elo performance (I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think that globally Anand nearly didn't lose any Elo points in these two matches, and that he perhaps even gained some).

Taking all this into account, I don't really see why a match against Karjakin would be really different for Carlsen than a match against Anand... Given the immense experience that Anand had, I think it could even be more difficult for Karjakin than for Anand to play Carlsen in a match.
keithbc6472 keithbc6472 3/30/2016 12:37
Carlsen has been champion and his last WC match was not that impressive. Karjakin, at last, has got here (having been world champion material for years) but not fulfilled his earlier promise. Carlsen can be beaten and seems a little jaded of late. Karjakin in solid and can become world champion
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/30/2016 12:36
@ Jon Targaryen : I don't think it is very logical to say that "Nobody except Caruana and Giri have any chances of even putting up a fight" : in the Candidates, Caruana and Giri where there, and, at the end, they where beaten by Karjakin with a 1 point margin, for Caruana, and with a 1.5 points margin, for Giri. And, by the way, the performance rating of Caruana was above his Elo rating (2800 perf. against 2794 Elo), so, Caruana played quite at his normal level, and, nonetheless, Karjakin beat him at the end. And the Elo difference between Karjakin, Caruana, and Giri is not so important as that : they are all three in the zone between 2750 and 2800 Elo. (I would point out, too, that in the Candidates, all the participants where in this "Elo zone", and that the results where nearly not correlated at all with the Elo rankings of the participants, which means, for me, that for this type of events, small differences in Elo ranking are not really meaningful.) So I don't think, seeing the results of the Candidates, that, presently, Caruana or Giri would have significantly more chances against Carlsen that Karjakin.

The only problem is that all potential challengers to Carlsen in this tournament where between 2750 and 2800, while Carlsen is in the zone between 2850 and 2900 : for me, they are not in the same league... Which, for me, doesn't make it uninteresting at all, but I think it will be more a demonstration of Carlsen's play that anything else...
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 3/30/2016 11:56
No way Karjakin wins against Carlsen. My prediction is that Carlsen, who's even able to quickly self-adjust his playing effort with olympic peacefulness on the base of the temporary cross-table standings, will win with a +2 final score, that won't say how stronger than Karjakin he is.
oldsalt7 oldsalt7 3/30/2016 11:00
Karjakin will dethrone Carlsen. That is my gut feeling!.
Jon Targaryen Jon Targaryen 3/30/2016 10:36
Speelman makes a good case for Karjakin but we all know that he has absolutely no chance against Magnus.Nobody except Caruana and Giri have any chances of even putting up a fight.
tom fox tom fox 3/30/2016 09:57
Capablanca dull?
Stupido Stupido 3/30/2016 09:55
Why not? Carlsen lost a few even rook endings in the last years.
Hawkman Hawkman 3/30/2016 09:12
"The third crucial element will be how to counter Carlsen in the quiet positions he plays so magnificently. ... When Alexander Alekhine took on and beat the supposedly unbeatable Jose Raoul Capablanca in 1927 he embraced his opponent's apparently dull style to compete with him. Karjakin really ought to do some similar work regarding Carlsen."

Should he only do it in practice or in the match also? If he does it in the match, can he beat Carlsen at his own game?