Magnus Carlsen started his defense of his world chess championship title by playing a move which sent the chess world into a viral debate about a hidden message to Donald Trump
November 2016. The World Championship of chess reaches its conclusion as the world champion sits down to play a twelve game match against his challenger.
Magnus Carlsen, one time wonder kid is now twenty-five years old and arguably approaching his prime. His scientifically calculated strength puts him at an all-time high. Stronger than Bobby Fischer. Stronger than Gary Kasparov. Stronger that his Russian opponent ranked number nine in the world.
The match has been promoted by Acis who have put up a million dollars in prize money, and moved the marketing and branding of the championship into the twenty-first century.
Amid the razzmatazz of its New York setting, there are virtual reality displays. FIDE (the FIFA of chess) has accepted a twenty-first century speed-up with parallels with changes in other sports such as tennis. In earlier world championships, the match if drawn in games, was awarded to the reigning champion. This time a drawn match leads to more games played at a faster tempo (quick play). If these do not produce a winner, there is to be one pulsating blitz game known as bullet chess. There must be a winner by mate, resignation or time loss. Provision is made for the unlikely draw by stalemate.
The first game produced headlines around the chess world
, and a few more beyond the chess columns. To understand the story, you need to understand a rather weak pun based on the name an unusual and rather rarely-played opening chosen by the world champion for the first game of the match. Its name is the Trompowski attack
, or the Tromp
for short. Yes, you can see what’s coming.
According to NBC
Is the world chess champion a Donald Trump fan? It sure looked that way Friday afternoon in New York City when defending world champion Magnus Carlsen opened his title match against Sergey Karjakin with a series of moves that may have been a nod to President-elect Trump.
That opening series isn’t that commonly used, so it took several minutes for onlookers to identify what the Norwegian grandmaster was up to. The Trompowsky is a way to avoid a series of other openings that are heavily analyzed, echoing Trump’s own refusal to play by the conventional political rule book.
One match commentator noted that Trump had won earlier in the week and now the Norwegian champion was using a similar-sounding method. “It will be known from now on as the Trump-owsky Attack,” one waggish spectator quipped.
Trump raised the hackles of a number of American chess players last month when he incorrectly claimed that the United States does not have any grandmasters, the highest level of players in the royal game.Trump even managed to get the term wrong when he said, while criticizing the difficulty of the nation withdrawing from multi-lateral trade agreements, “you can’t terminate — there’s too many people, you go crazy. It’s like you have to be a grand chess master. And we don’t have any of them.”In fact, the U.S., with 90 grandmasters, has the third largest number of players with that title in the world out of all nations.
There had been an appetite for Trump stories, building up to his electoral triumph. This one has as little relation to truth as many of the others. Did Magnus chose his chess opening in any way influenced by a ropy pun?
The choice of opening was unexpected (one reason to chose it). But even Magnus, not known for being better prepared in the openings than his closest rivals, would have risked a capricious choice.
Or would he?
To be continued
To the suprise of most commentators, Magnus could make little impact on his opponent who continued to build his repuation as a most tenacious player of current grandmasters. At the half-way stage of the match, all games had been drawn.
Watch out for our next post describing the thrilling last day of the context which will go down in chess history.