World Chess Championship, Game 4: Chess broke my modem!

Posted: November 14, 2018 in chess
Tags: , , ,

Our modem tipped its king today and was removed from the board. Our resourceful internet service provider immediately vowed to replace the device…in two days. I don’t understand why an ISP would not have a modem or two in the supply closet. I guess they have to order one from Amazon.

So I’m at my favorite coffee shop by the window, sitting on a wooden stool by a marble shelf, watching hip nighttime Portlandia parade past while the barista/dj plays The Secret Sisters‘ 2017 release, You Don’t Own Me Anymore. Their music still has its roots in country, gospel, and the blues, but on this, their third album, they swing a little harder. I can always count on an evening of music I like here, though I can never predict what they’ll play. We had a malcontent behind the bar one winter who liked Garth Brooks, but he didn’t last long.

Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana in London had a more intense day than I did in Oregon, and I slept through three meetings and went to a co-worker’s birthday party and ate BBQ beef tacos. Game 4 ended in a draw. All four games have ended in draws. My unlettered opinion: The first game should’ve gone to Mag Wheels. If Fabio was nervous when he started that game, his nerves were steady seven hours later when the game fell over and stopped. Since then, despite the draws, Fabio has been playing better and better. Mag Wheels has had to stretch himself to keep these games even.

How long can these draws go on? How about the worst chess championship ever? In 1984, a kid named Garry Kasparov challenged the champion of that era, Anatoly Karpov. Unfortunately for chess, there was a fatal flaw in the ground rules: Draws would not count. The first man with six wins would be the winner. This was like the writer George Plimpton pitching to a lineup of all-stars at Yankee Stadium in 1958. No one was calling the balls and strikes, so a batter could simply wait for a pitch he fancied. Ernie Banks waited 23 pitches before getting bored and swinging at one. (Fly out to Mickey Mantle.)

Kasparov had never beaten Karpov before this match, and in the first nine games he looked hopeless, as Karpov won four and drew the other five. Kasparov, desperate to take back the Big Mo, started forcing draws. Kasparov earned his first win on game 30fn2, at which point the score was 5-1 Karpov. Then they plunged into a run of 14 consecutive draws that caused a global spike in people playing checkers and Go.

Kasparov won games 47 and 48. Karpov still lead, but his lead was now 5-3. At this point, they had been playing for five months, I was sick of both of them, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to emigrate to Israel rather than be president of the Soviet Union, and they had been cursed by the pope. And then the president of the world chess federation stopped the match after 40 draws and just eight decisions, claiming the players’ health was in danger. Karpov retained his title, an endless supply of conspiracy theories was born, and the Super Ks, who hated each other, played four more championship matches over the next seven years. I’m surprised that chess still exists.

The Carlsen-Caruana match is just 12 games long, and if the players are tied after 12 games, they’ll meet in a lightning round of blitz chess (probably five minutes per player per game). We’ll all be home for Thanksgiving.

Rest day tomorrow. Time to talk about fertilizer.

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