Shelby Lyman on Chess: No Place to Hide
Sunday, December 8, 2013
We have turned a page in chess history.
Magnus Carlsen’s crushing victory over Viswanathan Anand in their world title match in Chennai, India ushers in a new paradigm.
Carlsen plays the game differently than any champion before. Although this has also been true of many new champions — most notably in modern times Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, the 22-year-old Norwegian is the first to develop his skills from start to finish in the computer age.
Kasparov used computers brilliantly, but he was already world champion before they became part of his repertoire.
Like a chess-playing computer himself, Carlsen seems to play without fear of losing. He simply makes move after move until his opponent cracks. A remarkable intuition for the right move, finely-honed by reviewing tens of thousands of games on computer screens, plays no small part in this ability.
He makes errors, of course, but smaller and fewer than his opponents.
Because he continues the fight until the board is practically bare of pieces and because he creates imbalances and winning possibilities in seemingly innocuous positions, an easy draw against Carlson is a contradiction in terms.
There is usually no way to resist the pressure he creates except by welcoming the fight and replying in kind. Not an easy thing to do. Draws when they do occur are well-earned.
The aggressor Carlsen, himself rarely loses.