World Chess Championship, Game 6: Horsepocalypse

Posted: November 16, 2018 in chess
Tags: , , , ,

“Which chess piece has the most sex?” Emma Baccellieri asked last year on Deadspin. She was reacting to the unveiling of the NSFW, pawnographic 2018 World Championship logo.

The knight was Ms. Baccellieri’s choice. The knight is sexy. The knight is DTF. Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana must feel the same way, because in the first 14 moves of today’s game, Mag Wheels moved his knights nine times and Fabio moved his 13 times. There was plenty more to come over the next 66 moves, and yet, when the players finally signed an armistice (6+ hours later!), one of the four knights was still on the board, foaming at the mouth and mad enough to melt deuterium.

The game went on so long that the on-scene commentators ran out of stuff to talk about, like baseball announcers during a rain delay. Worldchess.com provides commentary in English and French. The sixth hour of the game probably sounded better on the French channel.

Mag Wheels, playing white, opened with the king’s pawn. Fabio reciprocated, and one move later they were into the Petroff Defense. The Petroff is old. You can find it in the first chess book, Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen or How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (1490). It’s definitely a defensive system for people who like to move their knights. It’s good cover if you’ve forgotten how to move everything else.

(We call it the knight, but it looks like a horse. When I was playing in tournaments, my wife always cautioned me to “give the horsie a drink” from the top of the rook before each game.)

Today, the queens had their heads chopped off on move 8. Mag Wheels moved one of his knights to the edge of the board, which made me want to pull my hair out, because we always tell our chess kids not to do that. “Knight on the rim is grim!” Fabio broke the center open, Mag Wheels charged ahead with his king, Fabio didn’t castle until move 22, and somewhere north of move 40, Mag Wheels started hitting Fabio with left hooks that Fabio for all his pre-game prep never saw coming. The champ traded a knight for three of the challenger’s pawns and cycled from a losing position to a winning position to a losing position to the conclusion: a draw.

111618 game
A screen capture from Worldchess.com, which I’m entitled to because I paid $20 for a subscription (approximately 7.2 million euros) (I rounded up). Stay hydrated, chess fans.

Six games, six draws. No world championship (and the men have had a championship since 1886) has ever begun with seven straight draws. Two championships began with six; the defending champions won both.

Tomorrow’s a rest day. Let’s get back to the music.

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