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Monday, 29 December 2014

A flawed game , the most important game of 2014?

2014 was a year filled with exiting chess games , many of which were brilliant in terms of tactics or setting up some positional advantage. 2014 is also the year Magnus Carlsen retained his World Champion status by defeating Viswanathan Anand. It was a much anticipated rematch , but the Championship just did not deliver on the hype surrounding it. There were no real brilliancies and although winning convinsingly , Carlsen did not play with the finesse we have come accustomed to.

However inspite of these factors , Game 6 of the 2014 World Chess Championships has to be the most important game of the year. This being for one simple reason. The fact that two grandmasters , both considered to be amongst the all time elite in chess blundered on two consecutive moves. This being move 26 (see game below)

*Variations checked with Fritz

Although other games also had a similar occurence and other games also had blunders , this has to be the most prolific game of this nature. Anand made a shocking blunder in game 2 , but Carlsen seized the opportunity and won.

So why is a game , that would not be considered brilliant even when played by far weaker players eclipse brilliant games as the most important game of 2014? The simple fact for this is , that it reminds us that even brilliant players make an error from time to time. It gives other players who blunder on a far more regular basis comfort in the fact that even the World Champion blunders from time to time.

Secondly ,after the game one could see a disappointed Anand and a relieved but unhappy Carlsen. Their faces the same as so many players in tournaments around the globe once they have had a similar game. Considering this factor , this is also a link between us mere mortals and legends of the chess world. Their play is computer like sometimes , but just like us they are humans with emotions and private lives which also affects their playing abilities.

Although their playing abilities also suffer from time to time , both players showed up to the next round showing no signs of the previous encounter , fully focussed on the task at hand. This is a lesson that can be learned by other players , put the previous round behind you and focus on the next game as if nothing happened before. Countless times a player loses focus because of the emotional turmoil caused by a blunder like the one Carlsen made and the one Anand missed.

This emotional turmoil is a direcrt result of the “How could I have missed that” response. A similar response Anand had after the game. Experts described it as “chess blindness” , in simple words it can be described as seeing something that isn’t there or missing something that is there. A trick that the mind plays in making us believe that the move we are about the make is a good move and not seeing it for what it is. Similar games can be found here

Following from the above , players can deduce that no explanation is needed for some blunders. Learning this lesson , will allow players to work on their game , rather than going down a list of reasons for blundering , like this one , gone are the words of self doubt and anger on the occassion that an event like game 6 happens in their chess career. However even more can be learned from this game.

This lesson is that no matter how many tactics are done in training , the odd one still goes unseen. Compared to most players , Anand and Carlsen are entire Encylopedia’s of chess knowledge , while the average player can be compared to a single chapter. Tactical traing greatly improves the game in a short time , but even this does not fix chess blindness and blundering from time to time. However , it does help players to minimize missing important moves and therefore should not be neglected.

Just like tactics should not be neglected , opening , middle game and engame strategy should also not be neglected. From the game one can see that Carlsen had an opening advantage , that he exploited after both players missed the all important move on move 26. Anand’s pieces were placed oddly , an incorrect middlegame strategy , which led to him losing the game in the end. This middlegame set up was the result of a superior opening position set up by Carlsen. Once again one can see that even the most knowledgeable players make strategic mistakes from time to time.

This game also lead to major discussions , which gave chess a lot of exposure ,as people who would normally just look at the end result a reason to look at the games played , be it only at game 6. The Fischer-Spassky Champsionship , is likely still the match with the biggest media exposure in terms of public interest , but all things considered , this game gave the championship considerable exposure in the modern era.

Lastly this game also showed the world , that it is time for younger players who are still reaching the peak of their playing ability to step up to the plate and challenge the established chess elite , for these reasons , this is the most important game of 2014.

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