The Champ got knocked out in the 4th Round

So far there was nothing to write about on the Tournament in Norway, simply because the guys were playing actual chess. No forced-draw-comedy like in the past, where grown up men compared their computer analysis. Maybe it makes a difference that the usual targets Topalov, Hammer and Van Wely are missing. Anyways, the great Magnus took one to the chin last night and this has to be mentioned.

What happened? Aronjan comes up with a novelty on move 10, but since Stockfish ranks it first in the list of candidates, MC was definitely aware of it. Bc2 doesn’t even threaten anything, it’s just the move with the highest evaluation in the position. MC answers with Rd8 which Stockfish gives 6th on the list, so one could assume that Aronjan didn’t bother much with this choice in his preparation, yet he comes up with a brilliant exchange sacrifice, that the engine ignores completely. The resulting position is highly complex, but filling pages with pointless engine analysis is not the subject of this article. What followed in the game was just insane: MC allowed Aronjan to sac on h7, leading to a long forced sequence ending with unbalanced material. This could have been a miracle escape, but he missed an only move and that was it. In the end the lefthander beat the guy with Asperger symptoms, so at least that is somewhat normal.

The interesting question for the average non-genius like you and me is: How can one calculate the tactical sequence starting with 17. Bxh7 ending 12 moves later, netting four pawns for the piece? Well, you either can play blindfold or you can’t. If you can’t play blindfold your brain creates something like a hashtable where the actual position of the pieces gets stored. You kinda “know” where the pieces are, but it’s very tough to connect the pieces with their abilities, at least that is how it works for me. If you can play blindfold like these guys on the other hand, you can simply “see” a crystal clear picture of the diagram. That makes it much easier to find the best move, because it’s always a one-move-problem. While finding the best positional move is still difficult, forced sequences are a piece of cake.

What else do we take home from this game? It was certainly the clash of titans, that everyone was hoping for. Lev presents a very different type of challenge to MC than Wesley does. While So has a purely pragmatic approach, Aronjan is trying to show his class.