30 March 2019

Carlsen Wins Lichess Again

Thanks to an extra weekend this month, I can report on another Lichess Chess960 event. I covered the first event in a pair of posts:-

The announcement of the second event came a few days after that second post:-

  • 2019-03-18: Chess960 Titled Arena Returns (lichess.org) • 'Given how well received the previous Chess960 Titled Arena was, we're bringing it back for round 2. As with last time, the control will be 2 minutes + 1 second increment to give everyone a chance to get used to the unfamiliar positions. The tournament duration will also be 3 hours, and thanks to the donation of last month's first place prize we have a bumped prize pool of $1500!'

Note that last sentence: 'thanks to the donation of last month's first place prize'. That makes World Champion Carlsen -- in traditional chess, where the big money is -- an unofficial sponsor of chess960 events. Thanks, Magnus! The event took place at Chess960 Titled Arena Mar 2019 (lichess.org). The results were summarized at:-

To honor the top three players, I once again captured a picture of the winners' podium.

GM DrNykterstein is Magnus Carlsen himself, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners were NM Janak Awatramani and GM Andrew Tang. GM Watneg, the 2nd place finisher in the previous Chess960 Titled Arena, finished 4th this time. Carlsen's performance was again streamed by Youtube's ChessNetwork, who left us a permanent record on his channel.


Chess960 Titled Arena ft. Magnus Carlsen as DrNykterstein | March 2019 (3:05:20) • 'Published on Mar 28, 2019'

The description of the video says,

This is a 3-hour bullet chess tournament, Chess960 Titled Arena, I provided commentary on while specifically observing World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen compete. Time controls are 2 minutes with a 1 second increment. This was the 2nd titled arena lichess held with the variant chess960, or fischer random chess.

On top of kudos to the commentator like 'Jerry, just got to say, your content is absolutely incredible', the comments point to key games in Carlsen's path to winning the event.

23 March 2019

More about Queens in the Corner

On my previous post, More about the Lichess Event, fellow chess960 blogger HarryO (see the sidebar for a link to his blog) commented,
What do you think of Magnus's style where if Queens are in the corner he will often play the edge pawn on the first move?

He was referring to the three hour video embedded in that post. I located two early instances of the corner Queen in the video:-

19:45 SP679 QRBKNNRB
26:45 SP772 QBBRKNRN

The following diagram shows the two positions plus GM Carlsen's first move as White.

The Queen in the corner is one of the knottiest problems to solve in chess960. I once focused on it in a post about A Concrete Publishing Proposal (June 2017) where I outlined the three ways the Queen can be developed.

There's another angle to the problem in that the rapid development of the Queen in many chess960 start positions leads to double-edged play. When one player develops the Queen while the other neglects its development, the first player often gets the initiative with a corresponding advantage. This challenges a basic principle of opening play that applies to the traditional position. I once ended a post, Make the Obvious Moves First (September 2012), with the observation,

Take, for example, 'Do not bring your Queen out too early'. I have played at least one game where early development of the Queen to the center was an excellent strategy.

Carlsen has taken the idea even further. There is no subtle maneuvering to slide the Queen along its back rank and jump out on a center file somewhere. He just pushes the Pawn in front of the Queen, then looks at what his opponent is doing before taking further action. Is this another example of 'Make the Obvious Moves First'?

16 March 2019

More about the Lichess Event

In my previous post, Carlsen Wins Lichess Chess960 Titled Arena (23 February 2019), I mentioned,
The tournament Chess960 Titled Arena #960feb19 finished just in time to make the deadline for this week's post.

A day later Youtube channel ChessNetwork released a video about the event. With more than 100K views and nearly 200 comments, the numbers speak for themselves.


Chess960 Titled Arena ft. Magnus Carlsen as DrNykterstein (3:08:03) • 'Published on Feb 24, 2019'

The description said,

This is a 3-hour bullet chess tournament, Chess960 Titled Arena, I provided commentary on while specifically observing World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen compete. Time controls are 2 minutes with a 1 second increment. This was the first titled arena lichess held with the variant chess960, or fischer random chess.

The comments help to locate the start of interesting games; for example, 'Eric Rosen's game at 45:31'. This game found a second path to Youtube, via the Eric Rosen channel: Playing the World Chess Champion in Chess960.

I played Magnus Carlsen (DrNykterstein) in the first ever Chess960 Titled Arena on lichess.org. The time control was 2+1. The game ended in an intense time scramble.

For more about the tournament, see Shaking Things Up in the Chess960 Titled Arena (lichess.org). Comments are at Forum >> General Chess Discussion >> Shaking... (ditto).