While game 11 was on

by Maxim Dlugy
11/27/2016 – While Ian Nepomniachtchi was giving simul again, our reporter arrived at the venue just in time to see what is going. He was discussing the match with Vladimir Potkin, then Lawrence Trent showed up, so a re-match with the big F. was looming up. Some non-alcoholic Lychee Martinis helped to prepare, but when the moment arrived, Anna Burtasova took her chance. Inside Report, game 11...

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What happened while game 11 was on

Frankly, as the tension mounts I keep expecting more and more famous personalities to visit the VIP room, but either I am not very familiar with very famous people or they are not versatile enough to be familiar with the ideas they can get for their lives by rubbing shoulders with chess players during a World Championship match. 

Andrey Minkov playing with our reporter, George Tets spectating - photograph by Max Avdeev

Andrey Minkov playing with our reporter, George Tets spectating

Two good friends of mine, George Tets, a famous Russian microbiologist and Andrey Minkov, a businessman who has supported chess for years including playing a famous match with Vladimir Kramnik with pawn odds arrived from Russia to watch the final games and now potentially the tiebreaker in this tough match.

George Tets and Andrey Minkov

George Tets and Andrey Minkov

As the morning had me give an interview to a NY Times reporter who was very interested in Russia's treatment of this match in the general public and the press, it was becoming evident that with the presence of the main managers of the Russian Chess Federation, Mark Gluhovsky and Andrei Filatov, Russia is very hopeful and interested to bring the title home. 

Discussing the Ruy Lopez for both sides

I was able to participate in a discussion of the opening choice for Karjakin with one of his seconds, Vladimir Potkin. Vladimir explained that it's easier for Karjakin to make moves on the Black side of the Ruy Lopez than in the French or the Caro-Kann, openings he might play in lesser events.

In fact, discussing the Ruy Lopez for both sides is a mark of true champions, as understanding this opening well is only possible if you have pretty much learned all positional ideas in all of the other openings as well.

Ian Nepomniachtchi was there again prepared to play his simul. He asked me to play some blitz before it all started, and we managed to get one game, where I got the better of the Scandinavian opening, but then lost the extra pawn and drew a somewhat simplistic endgame. Not bad for starters, I thought.

Ian Nepomniachtchi: simul again - photography by Max Avdeev

Ian Nepomniachtchi: simul again - photography by Max Avdeev

As we finished our game, 10 or more moves were already blitzed out by the players, and I went to get some "color" for the round, deciding to refrain from drinking those delicious Lychee Martinis, so I could hold my own against Fabiano who was planning to make it in today according to Lawrence Trent. 

Jonathan Corrblah loves Blitz

Jonathan Corrblah loves Blitz

As my friend Andrey arrived, and my wife and daughter decided to leave for the day, I was free to play some blitz. Andrey offered to play some and after a few games, Jonathan Corrblah, a famous chess and game show personality, who is a mean blitz player, wanted to try as well. I tried to give him 5 to 1, but his speed got to me, when I blundered a rook in a slightly better ending. He offered to play 2 minutes apiece, and this got caught on camera by the main crew, who started interviewing us right at the moment when the position got really complicated. Somehow I collected myself and came up with some cheap shots, which eventually crushed through. This was so tough, I decided to take a rest from blitz before taking on the big F. 

The big game was getting quite interesting as Magnus came up with a somewhat surprising 19...d5.

Game 11, before 19...d5

Situation before 19...d5 by Carlsen, 11th match game

As the engines kept showing complete equality which seemed hard to believe a number of spectators wanted to know whether the position is really that equal. As I analyzed through some of the lines though it seemed that this is one case when dynamic play balances out static advantages perfectly - a fact that soon become quite evident to the top players present.

Just at this moment Fabiano arrived and I was all ready to play. Fabiano agreed, and just needed to complete the interview with Vladimir Barsky before we started. 

Fabiano Caruana and his friend

Fabiano Caruana and his friend

This moment did not come unnoticed by Anna Burtasova, who implored me to come on with Judit to comment the likely end of the game for the next half an hour or so. I had mixed feelings about it, as I was all ready to give Fabiano a good fight, thanks to asking for the non-alcoholic Lychee Martini, but finally gave in to her charms.

The game did end in a draw shortly thereafter, as the e pawn was too strong for White's pieces to separate themselves for it. Sergey managed, but only to deliver a perpetual.

When I returned, Fabiano was engaged in an interesting conversation with a former chess prodigy and a very interesting person, Josh Waitzkin. 

Josh sitting on my knees, alternating moves with him

Josh who I met when he was seven years old and according to his mother Bonnie, got him more interested in chess after taking on a number of strong blitz players at the old Manhattan Chess Club while alternating moves with him sitting on my knees and beating most if not all of them, became a celebrity, when his father Fred wrote a book "Searching for Bobby Fischer", where he investigates the life of a chess prodigy and his parents trying to see how to improve their child in chess. The book became a Hollywood film that was quite successful with Ben Kingsley, playing the role of Bruce Pandolfini, Josh's first coach. 

Josh Waitzkin arriving at the venue

Josh Waitzkin arriving at the venue

I remember going to the screening of the movie with Josh and his whole family. When the film was over, someone asked: "Is this story real"? I pointed out the real Josh to the interested party. 

In 1999 Josh stopped playing chess, reaching the level of a strong international master. He took up another competitive sport "Taiji Push Hands", becoming the World Champion at it in 2004. 

In our discussion he explained that to succeed in a completely different endeavor, he could not let him feel nostalgic about chess, so he simply stopped playing it altogether. Amazingly, he didn't play a single game for 17 years, until a recent one hour blitz session with our mutual friend Light Buggiani. 

And suddenly, three days ago after hearing his parents comment on Judit Polgar's excellent review of the match, he got the thirst for chess again.

Josh Waitzkin has not played a single game of chess for 17 years, but the thirst came back after hearing about Judit Polgar's excellent commentary

Hasn't played chess for 17 years: Josh Waitzkin speaking to a world wide audience about the game

Josh was telling Fabiano how some biofeedback techniques allow intense competitors and traders to get excellent improvement on their meditation work, letting them relax and recharge much faster before important challenges. He also said cold plunges, where your body gets immersed in sub 0 temperatures for a short amount of time can give your system a full flush, restoring all your functions very quickly after a very tiring endeavor. I wouldn't be surprised if Fabiano replaced the bucket challenge with the cold plunge now. I am definitely interested.

After this intense and interesting conversation, Fabiano started to look for his friend and our match didn't materialize.
Too bad, he is already leaving for Europe this Monday, leaving to find a good match during the final classical game of this intense World Chess Championship match. 
I can't wait.

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

Inna and Daniella Dlugy

Inna and Daniella Dlugy


On the terrace of Fulton Market with it's gorgeous view across East River and the pier - by Max Avdeev

On the terrace of Fulton Market with it's gorgeous view across East River and the pier - by Max Avdeev


Lawrence Trent thinks it's equal

Lawrence Trent thinks it's equal


Maurice Ashley, Carlsen's legal adviser Richard Conn, Film Producer Donari Braxton, and Fabiano Caruana

Maurice Ashley, Carlsen's legal adviser Richard Conn, Film Producer Donari Braxton, and Fabiano Caruana

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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bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 11/28/2016 01:57
Really good article. Makes me wish I went again. I was at the exciting game 3.
Rajgopal123 Rajgopal123 11/28/2016 01:57
oh no
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/27/2016 11:30
It'd be really interesting and cool if Josh Waitzkin started playing chess tournaments again!...