24 February 2024

Freestyle Goats Might Return

Continuing with last week's post, Carlsen Wins First Major Chess960 Event of 2024 (February 2024), here's a Youtube stream showing the games from the final day.

Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge - Final (3:09:15) • 'Streamed live on Feb 16, 2024'

For streams from the previous days, see @freestyle_chess/streams (youtube.com). The 'About' page informs,

The primary focus of the competition is on showcasing the personalities and extraordinary skills of Super Grandmasters, with Magnus Carlsen himself handpicking seven world-class challengers.

Handpicked challengers? Is that why two of Carlsen's most dangerous opponents -- GM Nakamura and GM Wesley So -- weren't playing? Whatever the reason, in Jan Henric Buettner: "My dream is a Grand Slam of Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenges on five continents" (chessbase.com; 'Press release'), we learn,

It was also revealed that Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning World Fischer Random Chess Champion, has an "extended invitation," so the American top GM and streamer will likely join the field in 2025. He had to decline for the first event because he wanted to prepare differently for the upcoming Candidates Tournament.

If this comes to fruition, we can look forward to much top-level chess960. Thanks, Weissenhaus people, for a great show!

17 February 2024

Carlsen Wins First Major Chess960 Event of 2024

In last month's only post on this blog, Freestyle Goats Challenge (January 2024), I closed it saying,
The official site is Weissenhaus - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (freestyle-chess.com). I know that I'll be coming out of hibernation to spectate.

I didn't find the opportunity to spectate, so I'll make up for that lapse by documenting the event: Carlsen Beats Caruana To Win Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (chess.com; Colin_McGourty; 'Day 8'). For his final article on the same event, the same Chess.com journalist produced the following list.

2024-02-17: Nine Things We Learned - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge 2024 (chess.com; Colin_McGourty; links to previous articles: 'Day 1-8')

Every one of those nine points is worth further discussion, but I'm not the right person to discuss them, at least for now. Also worth a mention is Tag: Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (chessbase.com), with links to 14 Chessbase articles by various writers. A few of those articles are of considerable background interest, but they will have to wait for another time.

20 January 2024

Freestyle Goats Challenge

I admit it; I just can't stop. In my previous post, Sayonara? (December 2023), I wrote,
Now I'm going back into hibernation, although I won't rule out an occasional post if I have something to say about a subject.

The hibernation can wait for now, because an upcoming event deserves to be promoted. From two of the top chess news sources:-

  • 2023-12-01: Freestyle Super Tournament in Germany - Seven top players challenge Magnus Carlsen (chessbase.com; Press Release) • 'From 9 to 16 February 2024, the Weissenhaus Private Nature Luxury Resort on the Baltic Sea in Germany will be the venue for a super tournament in "Freestyle Chess", also known as Chess960. Seven world-class players, including world champion Ding Liren and Vincent Keymer, will challenge the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all Times), Magnus Carlsen, in a Chess960 tournament with classical time control.'

  • 2023-12-04: Carlsen, Ding, Caruana In New $200,000 Classical Fischer-Random Event (chess.com; TarjeiJS) • 'Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T Challenge will take place February 9-16 and marks Carlsen's first battle with his successor, World Champion GM Ding Liren, since the Chinese grandmaster took over the throne.'

Freestyle? It's becoming a rite of passage for a new chess960 sponsor : invent a new C960/FRC name for a new tournament. I'll add it to the names at the top of the blog. The more the merrier! From the 'Press Release':-

In addition to Magnus Carlsen (33) and Ding Liren (31), the following six players will compete: Fabiano Caruana (31, USA/Italy, #2 in the world), Levon Aronian (41, USA/Armenia, #4 of all times), Alireza Firouzja (20, France/Iran, #5 in the world), Dommaraju Gukesh (17, India, top world rank #9), Nodirbek Abdusattorov (19, Uzbekistan, world rank #25), and Germany's number one, Vincent Keymer (19, top world rank #18).

Where are GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So? I imagine it's a coincidence that both were threats to Carlsen in high-visibility chess960 matches. But enough nitpicking -- the show must go on!

The official site is Weissenhaus - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (freestyle-chess.com). I know that I'll be coming out of hibernation to spectate.