Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin will break their tie with speed chess and, if needed, the dreaded ‘Armageddon Game.’

Armageddon may strike New York City on Wednesday. This cataclysmic moment could finally decide a winner—the East versus the West—in a long-simmering battle for global supremacy. In chess.

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin find themselves tied in the World Chess Championship after completing their best-of-12 match in Manhattan over the last month. In 10 of the games, there was no winner. Karjakin, the Russian challenger and the world’s No. 9-ranked player, stole one win. And then Carlsen, the No. 1-ranked champion from Norway, took a game of his own to even the score.

Their dead heat has sent the championships to a tiebreaker that will be held Wednesday. Carlsen and Karjakin will play a series of rapid and blitz games—and, if necessary, what’s known in chess as an “Armageddon Game.” It’s a game that’s guaranteed to produce a winner with rules so frenetic they could introduce never-seen-before controversy into the chess universe.

“The tension would be unbelievable,” said Dylan McClain, a master-level player. “I would suspect there would be people who are not happy.”

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In an Armageddon Game, the players will draw lots and the winner gets to choose if he is white or black. White will have five minutes to complete his moves and black will have four, but with a twist: If the game ends in a draw, black wins.

No World Chess Championship has ever been decided this way. This one just might. “Let’s hope there won’t be Armageddon, because it’s a little bit too much,” Karjakin said.

Exactly how the chess world arrived at a moment dates back decades to a time when championships took even longer. For example, the 1984 World Chess Championships between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov were abandoned after 48 games that stretched over five months and into 1985. The president of FIDE, the governing body of chess, eventually called it off, citing the concerns over the health of the players. Karpov had reportedly lost upwards of 20 pounds during the grueling affair.

Since then the matches have been shortened, resulting in the best-of-12 format that began in 2006. They also got rid of draw odds—where the reigning champion retained the title in case of a tie—because two different players had claimed to be the champion after the title split in 1993. All of this led the way to the elaborate tiebreaker system which will be seen on Wednesday.

First, Carlsen and Karjakin will engage in four rapid games, in which they have 25 minutes apiece. If they’re still tied, they would progress to a round of “blitz” matches, where they have five minutes aside. Should they remain tied after the blitz games, the Armageddon Game will settle it all.
Carlsen says he’s not sure if he would rather be white or black in the Armageddon Game—with all of their draws so far, black might be logical, but it would also depend on how the earlier tiebreaker games go. Karjakin wouldn’t even answer which he prefers.

The World Chess Championships have reached tiebreakers twice in this format—in 2006 and 2012—but neither of those went as far as chess’s version of the apocalypse. And should it head there on Wednesday, controversy would be a near certainty. Which is exactly what happened in 2008 when the United States women’s championship was decided in this format.

Irina Krush ran out of time in that 2008 Armageddon Game. Her opponent, Anna Zatonskih, was declared champion. Zatonskih had one second left. Krush said Zatonskih played moves even before her own ones were completed and disputed the result, saying Zatonskih maintained her waning clock time through illegal means. After the game, Krush slammed a piece off the board and stormed off.ararmageddon-looms

“I would certainly welcome any initiative to decide the title in over-the-board games, with real time controls that don’t degrade the participants into clock punching monkeys,” Krush wrote in an open letter afterwards.

This boils down to the fact that such a frantic game is a distant cousin of the methodical matches that make these players the best in the world. It’s the chess equivalent of penalty kicks in soccer—a solution that quickly produces a winner, even if it’s barely a measure of the skill that got the competitors to that point in the first place.

Should these fast games become necessary, Carlsen would appear to have the edge. He’s ranked No. 1 in rapid chess and No. 2 in blitz, while Karjakin is No. 11 in blitz and not in the top 100 in rapid. “I want to play a tiebreak,” said Carlsen, who will play for the title on his birthday. When asked if he was comfortable drawing the last game because of his skill as a speed player, he added: “That’s one interpretation.”

Then again, few thought Karjakin would play Carlsen so tightly in the first place. So even an unlikely proposition like an Armageddon Game suddenly seems realistic.

“2016 has been weird,” said Kassa Korley, an international master. “Between Brexit, Trump, LeBron and the 3-1 deficit, things have just been shocking all around.”


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Jan 25, 2017

Tata Steel 2017, round 9: Magnus strikes back

Magnus Carlsen joked early on in the tournament that “it’s a shame to waste a White on Loek”, but his game with the white pieces against Van Wely came just when he needed it. He bounced straight back after the loss to Rapport and, with all other games drawn, moved back to within half a point of leader Wesley So. The draw included near misses for Ian Nepomniachtchi and Wei Yi and a wild encounter between Dmitry Andreikin and Pavel Eljanov. In the Challengers co-leader Gawain Jones lost to Jeffery Xiong, allowing Ilia Smirin to join Markus Ragger in the lead.

Tuesday was initially billed as the day Magnus Carlsen could lose his no. 1 spot on the live rating list to Fabiano Caruana. It later turned out that results going against him would “merely” have reduced his lead to less than a single rating point, but such calculations were swept aside in a game where Loek van Wely’s aggressive opening choice soon left him fighting only to draw.

The key games at the top in Round 10 will be Harikrishna-Carlsen, Eljanov-Wei Yi and So-Wojtaszek, while Aronian-Rapport looks like one of the most attractive encounters in terms of style.

source chess24

Nov 14, 2016

Rules & Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match 2016

The 2016 FIDE World Chess Championship is a 12-game match taking place between Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen and his Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin. They play in the Fulton Market building in the Seaport District of Lower Manhattan, New York, beginning on November 11 and ending on November 30, if tiebreaks are required. The prize fund is at least 1 million euros, with the winner taking 60%, or 55% if the match goes to tiebreaks.

The players have 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes to the end of the game, with a 30-second increment from move 1. The first player to reach 6.5 points is the winner, with a 6-6 tie decided by four 25 minute + 10 second/move rapid games. If still tied two 5+3 games are played, then another two 5+3 if needed, then finally an Armageddon game, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, but a draw will make the black player World Champion.

Official website:
Download Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match (FWCM) 2016 in PDF format.

Sep 18, 2017

Tbilisi World Cup QF Tiebreaks

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is through to play a FIDE World Cup semifinal against Levon Aronian after knocking out Peter Svidler in the quarterfinal tiebreaks. Their rapid match was short and bitter for Peter, as he fell behind on the clock and on the board in both games. In the first with Black he managed to fight back and hold a draw, but in the second he was unable to put up much resistance. Maxime now faces Aronian after the first rest day and commented, “He has no reason to be afraid of anyone. I also have no reason to be afraid of anyone, so it should be a good match!”

Peter Svidler, meanwhile, can look back at another World Cup in which he exceeded pre-tournament expectations and played some fine games. It was, in fact, a repeat of his 2013 World Cup, when he also went out in the quarterfinal rapid tiebreaks after two draws in the classical games against Dmitry Andreikin. Although Peter has been a Candidates wildcard in the past it’s unlikely he’ll manage to play in the 2018 tournament in Berlin, but that might at least be good news when it comes to commentary!

Meanwhile in Tbilisi… the players, journalists, photographers, arbiters and, of course, chess fans finally have a rest day after 15 straight days of action. Then it gets really serious fast on Tuesday, when Aronian, MVL, Wesley So and Ding Liren are all just one step away from a place in the Candidates.

See more:

  • Official website
  • All the games with computer analysis on chess24
  • The World Cup starts in 1 week – predictions?
  • World Cup special promotion
  • Tbilisi World Cup 1.1: Wei Yi shocker
  • Tbilisi World Cup 1.2: Revenge of the favourites
  • Tbilisi World Cup 1 Tiebreaks: Stars show no mercy
  • Tbilisi World Cup 2.1: Anand brilliancy backfires
  • Tbilisi World Cup 2.2: Anand and Karjakin out
  • Tbilisi World Cup 2: Tiebreak highlights
  • Tbilisi World Cup 3.1: Carlsen loses | Kovalyov quits
  • Tbilisi World Cup 3.2: Carlsen, Kramnik and Naka out
  • Tbilisi World Cup 3 Tiebreaks: Fabiano crashes out
  • Tbilisi World Cup 4.1: Ivanchuk and Fedoseev strike
  • Tbilisi World Cup 4.2: Chucky & Lev meet in QF
  • Tbilisi World Cup 4 Tiebreaks: MVL KOs Grischuk
  • Tbilisi World Cup QF 1: Ivanchuk meltdown
  • Tbilisi World Cup QF 2: So, Ding & Aronian in semis