The Day the Challenger won

by Maxim Dlugy
11/22/2016 – WCC2016 Carlsen-Karjakin: Maxim Dlugy went to visit the match again. But he was in a hurry because later he had to teach. After meeting the champions, Dlugy saw Ian Nepomniachtchi walking in and they quickly set up the board to battle it out. Another blitz fight. Right in time, Fabiano Caruana showed up. Question: should blitz games be promoted? Game 8, behind the scenes...

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World Chess Championship New York 2016
By Maxim Dlugy

 Line with tickets before game No. 8

The interest in the match remains high

There was no warning that this was going to be the most exciting game of the match so far when I arrived at the site 30 minutes before the game.

The Accelerating Piece

I ran into Alex Khalifman and Gennady Nesis, who finally made it to the VIP hall, and discussed the game Gennady was promoting here in the United States: Tensor Chess.

Lev Alburt and Gennady Nesis

Lev Alburt and Gennady Nesis

In Tensor Chess, a special piece – the Tensor - acts as a move accelerator, allowing pieces to jump through the square the piece occupies and move again in the same way they usually move. That provides for some very exciting stuff, which is very interesting to calculate. Tomorrow they will present this game downtown and perhaps I will be able to make the event.

Ian Nepomniachtchi walks in

I ordered coffee, and suddenly saw Ian Nepomniachtchi walk in as if he was actually a New Yorker. I was happy to see him as he is always a fun guy to analyze and play blitz with. As VIP guests continued to arrive, Lev Alburt, the three-time U.S. Champion walked in, preparing to watch the game. 

I had a quick talk with Espen Agdestein, who noticed that though the players are drawing every game, the tension continues to mount. I opined that if the match goes to an Armageddon finish, that would be the most watched nine minutes ever, vying for some of the top grossing boxing matches in terms of viewership.

Ian Nepomniachtchi, Gennady Nesis and Fabiano Caruana

Winning by squeezing, being two pawns down 

Finally, after drinking my coffee, I set down to play a few 5 minute games with Ian, who talked a big game. Fabiano arrived just in time to watch and as Ian opened up with a reverse Dutch, I was able to get some advantage, which I then squandered to find myself in a complicated exchange down endgame. I managed to calculate some key tactics a little better and surprised him to open the score.

The next game was drawn after a tense middlegame and a theoretically drawn rook and pawn endgame, and in the last game, Ian showed why he is rated number 4 in the world in Rapid and Blitz: he won an amazing endgame two pawns down by squeezing me in a very non-trivial game. World Championship match organizer Ilya Merenzon was watching and wondered if he should be broadcasting our game as well on a pay-per-view channel. He actually recorded part or all of that game as we played it. Very instructive - if you can find it for free.

Dreev knows about e3

Then Carlsen and Karjakin made their first moves and I decided to stop and actually watch the proceedings. The e3-System, which I am sure has a nice distinctive name, was obviously played by very serious players in the past. I have always thought playing against it was not so simple, as I've had my troubles in quick games playing against Alexey Dreev, who has played it against me numerous times. 

The speed with which Sergey was playing though showed that he anticipated this course of events, and as Black relieved the tension in the center with dxc4, Vladimir Potkin, Ian and I were discussing several possibilities that seemed to be okay for Black. From the discussion I gathered that Karjakin was already a bit on his own, and if not uncomfortably, so at least having to choose from a number of reasonable continuations.

I had to go and teach chess classes at my Academy, so I left this exciting game to take its, as it turned out, rather unexpected course, as Magnus overreached and created an extremely interesting cliffhanger for all chess lovers to watch.

I'm tuning in big-time now!

Postscriptum after the match - the World Championship reports by Maxim Dlugy:

Maxim Dlugy was born 1966 in Moscow and in 1977 his family emigrated to the US. In 1985 Dlugy became World Junior Champion and later made a career on Wall Street. He is married with children, lives in New York, and loves to play blitz.


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