Recognise this extraordinary logo? Well, for the benefit of anyone who has been visiting Planet Zog recently, the World Chess Championship Final between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana begins today in London. The logo chosen for the match has not been seen much since the fanfare of its unveiling when the match was announced earlier this year. It attracted a fair amount of interest at the time and led The Times to describe the match as The Pawnographic World Chess Championship. Perhaps the inspiration for the logo was the famous (notorious?) chess game between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair.
The match consists of twelve games and if the scores are tied at 6-6 then a tie break ensues, details of which can wait until necessary. What are the odds of Carlsen retaining his title? While his FIDE rating is only three points higher than his opponent, the consensus seems to be that it would be a major surprise if he were to lose, especially as his quick play is superior to Caruana’s if the match were to go to a tie break. So what are Caruana’s chances? Searching for ‘World Chess Championship odds’, I was directed to the headline ‘What are the odds that chess is sexy enough for sports betting?’ from an American site www.thelines.com. (What do you mean, ‘No surprise there then?’). It quotes Unibet as claiming the ‘betting handle’ on the contest to be higher than that of some 2018 FIFA World Cup Matches. Really? Morocco v Iran, perhaps. It goes on to quote Carlsen as 29/50 and Caruana as 7/25. You don’t get odds like that at Ascot.
The ‘sexy’ aspect of the article is clear when you look at the logo but FIDE have offered an alternative ‘traditional’ one which seems even stranger. To this writer it looks more like a game of Chess Twister which could be the must have game for Christmas. The article states that ‘Chess is not noted for being a sexy sport’. Clearly the writer has not visited Broadstairs Chess Club. Unfortunately, his credibility went out of the window when the final paragraph announced that the match will take place in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In fact, the venue is The College in Holborn, an apparently odd choice as while its website claims that there will be space for 400 spectators, Malcolm Pein in The Telegraph today said that there will only be approximately 160 seats for paying customers, the rest presumably for press and officials. As for the building, it is indeed Victorian as claimed but photos suggest to this reader a cross between Victorian baths and a school hall. See what you think here.
Enough of this, you say, what about the chess? Well, Caruana drew the white pieces for Game 1 but was he able to take advantage? Surely he could not allow Carlsen to win the first game with black? At one point the computer had Carlsen as winning but he blundered and after seven hours there is still no result. While it was hoped to be able to post the game here for everyone to admire (?), with 111 moves played and no result in sight, we shall have to wait until tomorrow. The online wags are having a field day. “I live in Toronto,” says one. “The game started as I arrived at work. I am now leaving and it is still going on.” Another suggested that the game will still be continuing when round two begins tomorrow while a third has tipped Carlsen to win in 700 moves. The 30-second increment added per move means this game could run and run. Hold it….pawns have been swapped off so that’s another 50 moves….zzzzz….no, wait – draw agreed! As the players leave the stage, you can imagine the resident DJ playing ‘Things can only get better’.