Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A moral victory

As many millions of chesslovers, I followed curiously the past worldchampionship between Anand and Carlsen. I expected an exciting battle with a decision only in the 12th game. Today we know that the story went differently. Without doubt it is interesting to find out which strategies both players adopted without making the mistake to pretend that we would've made other and better choices as in hindsight it is always easy talking (see e.g. my blogarticle I knew it ). 

Anand afterwards stated in an interview for the online newspaper The First Post that he was surprised that Carlsen so little had changed compared with his usual tournamentplay for this worldchampionship. He found it a sign of courage which reflects his enormous self-confidence. In previous worldchampionships the players always tried to prepare some surprises but Carlsen not. Nevertheless from another interview given to the Indian branch of CNN we can deduct that Anand did take into account this strategy of Carlsen. He stated that his strategy consisted in neutralizing Carlsens play by making him clear that with pure dry technical play you can't score points against a worldchampion. If I understand well then Anand wanted to put pressure on Carlsens nerves so try to force him psychologically play a different type of chess. Afterwards Carlsen indeed admitted to suffer from stress. Just to indicate that there was a logic behind the strategy of Anand. Also it is nice to hear that I am not the only one, having to cope with stress for a game of chess. The first game of the worldchampionship went completely like expected. Carlsen avoided as usual an openingconfontation but was forced very quickly to allow a draw to avoid worse.

Many journalists spoke about an important moral victory, see e.g. chessbase or the Indian newspaper Mid Day. However in the next games no psychological influence could be noticed. Carlsen just kept on adopting his hit and run strategy (for more explanation see my blogarticle tanguy ringoir is champion of Belgium) and in the follow up it became evident that Anands opening-preparation was insufficient to neutralize in each game Carlsens play. In the end we got 10 different opening-variations on the board. We have to return to the worldchampionship between Spassky and Fischer to see the same kind of variety of openings in which coincidence or not, a same kind of strength-difference can be found between challenger and reigning worldchampion. Chess is a complex game. It is surely an enormous accomplishment to have an answer for all critical lines but it is completely impossible even for a worldchampionship-preparation to have a reply ready for all possible openings. I am confident that Carlsen also was aware about that and therefore didn't pay attention to so called moral victories. Anyway a draw with white against the worldchampion is a normal result and not a bad one even for the number 1 in the rankings. 

Eventually only the score counts. It doesn't matter how good your position was as only with signing the scoorsheets we define who gets what. After my debacle with my scoresheet (see the previous article) Steven tried to sheer me up by awarding me the title of moral victor but we both knew that it was nothing more than excusing yourself for the luck received. To receive more than you would expect with your play, is certainly morally pleasant. In round 3 of the Belgian interclub I was hours defending with the back against the wall against the new joung Belgain IM Stef Soors but achieved thanks to persistent defending and some luck the draw.

Such game will be regarded by experienced players as a plus-draw for white but to me it is a bridge to far to consider Stef as moral victor. I am pretty sure that I was more satisfied going home than he. Talking about moral victories seems therefore also more rubbish than based on serious psychological elements.

Brabo

Addendum 18 december
Grandmaster Hein Donner writes in his book " De koning" : "The real chessplayer plays his game like a game of chance. This also shows in the fact that winning thanks to stupid luck can generate much more joy and satisfaction than winning based on correct play." Thanks to Hypekiller5000 for sending me the hint and Lelystadse schaakvereniging for finding back the quote.

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