26 November 2018

Have to back Caruana now

I generally don't have strong personal favorites in World Championship matches, although it's natural to pull a bit for one side.  After Game 12, however, I have to fully back Caruana going into the tiebreak of the 2018 World Championship.  Carlsen seriously violated the mental toughness rules** by offering a draw in a superior position, in what was the decisive classical game.  That certainly made it seem like all he was aiming for was a draw from the start.  He wasn't sick or exhausted or suffering from any other exogenous factors, either.

Caruana in the press conference even looked slightly taken aback, saying that "White could never be better" in the final position, then going on to mention how at least he was more equal at the end than he had been a few moves before, when there was more danger.  There is some justice in the outcome, however, as it seems Caruana could have essentially forced a repetition of moves earlier in the game, but chose not to.

GM Erwin L'Ami's video analysis - click on Round 12 in the Round-up show frame on the Chessbase 2018 World Championship Page - is well worth viewing, for a candid look at the game.

** draw rules:
  • Do not deliberately aim for a draw from the start of a game, regardless of your opponent's rating or your tournament standing.  If you play your best and press any advantages you are able to obtain, you are more likely to achieve what you need and may in fact win.
  • Resolve not to offer a draw to your opponent unless the position on the board is in fact completely drawn.  This will contribute to a winning mindset and to not being afraid to play out any position.

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