Thanks for the nice comments on my round 8 report. In response, here’s one for Game 10 which is unfortunately the last game I’ll be watching live. I wondered what the odds were on my turning up for the only two decisive games so far and Jack kindly worked it out as 148-1. If I had put $1 on that I’d have got back $149 curiously only $1 difference from the amount I paid for the two tickets which for some reason is oddly satisfying.
Let’s just pop Game 10 up so the following comments make more sense:
Watching Game 10 live at the venue was a very different experience to that of Game 8. For your $75 you don’t just see the moves of the game, you get to experience them with a couple of hundred people of all different kinds of strength and it makes you think about your own game.
For example when Karjakin played 12…Qf6 early doors the high level view of it was that as he had given up the chance to play …f5 then White was ok. However, a lot of the audience who had obviously been brought up on the same rubbish as I was when I was a kid started to believe that as Karjakin had more pieces over on the kingside then he was the one doing the attacking and an attack on the kingside must be met by a strike in the centre. So comments of d4 “gotta come soon” “it’s his only chance to reverse the kingside attack” (whatever that means) came thick and fast. I wanted to tell them that d4 would have done nothing to solve White’s issues and only lead to a weakening of the e-pawn, no more control over the d-file than before and how would they follow up? However, I said nothing. As far above them in Elo terms as I was, I was just as far below Carlsen, so if Carlsen had then played d4 I’d have looked a right mug. A security guard asked me what I thought was a good move in another position. I said it was complex (always a great get out clause for not having a clue what’s going on) but Black might try such and such. The response was “well if he tries that buddy ahm just gonna eat that paaarn”, think I might use that comment in future.
Of course, sitting there watching one game it’s an ideal opportunity to guess what the next move might be and come up with a plan. Must improve your game, at least that’s the theory. When Karjakin was thinking about his 15th move I was thinking that if had that position I would want to stop a possible Nd5 with ...c6 and in addition I would then be looking to play…d5 or …b5 gaining space and squares. So, when Karjakin played this move I was proud of myself that I could play this game after all. Immediately Carlsen played 16 Bb3, you wouldn’t have thought that was a hard move to see but I just sat there not having a clue about what to do next. Karjakin followed up with 17…a5. I understood (or at least thought I did) that White would go a4 (which he did) and then Black goes …Be6 challenging the unprotected bishop. What do I do then I thought? Well probably Nd2 or maybe Bc2, not sure exactly what I’m doing there but the one move I obviously can’t play is 19 Bxe6. So Carlsen plays 19 Bxe6 and everyone including Judit and Nepo are shocked. To be honest I thought it was just a losing move but Judit explained it was a forced draw but then it turned out it may not have been a forced draw but why did Carlsen do it anyway etc etc
So Karkakin plays 20…d5 and I and the rest of the audience just sat there like a load of deer caught in the headlights, with no idea what was going on. Well, guess Carlsen’s forced to go f3, I thought, Judit agreed, at least I got something right I thought, then Carlsen plays 21 Qh5. I think the Chess24 report said the audience were bewildered. Bewildered? That’s a bloody understatement, we all wanted to scream out “we don’t understand! We don’t understand! Please tell us what’s happening!” Judit, now firmly established as out surrogate mother, is now raving about Carlsen’s position, Karjakin was wrong to turn down the draw when he had it, Carlsen’s going to win easily now according to all. I couldn’t see how but by now I knew my place. The game continued with intricate manouevres that were clearly beyond my understanding.
Carlsen played on and on eventually wearing Karjakin down but even when the computer assessment shot up to +4 many in the audience couldn’t tell you why.
Great stuff and I really enjoyed it. Why? Couldn’t really tell you. Perhaps chess is really about survival, the fog of war, hanging on for grim death, winning by a thread or whatever, it doesn’t matter it was just brilliant being part of the experience.