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Carlsen – Caruana 2018 live blog

caruana-wijk-aan-zeeLive analysis: Caruana – Carlsen game 1 with Lc0 and SF lines here!

Hello everyone and welcome to the live coverage of the 2018 World Chess Championship match between the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and the challenger Fabiano Caruana (USA). In this live blog from WCC 2018 we will be covering the event Carlsen – Caruana with the latest news, developments, interviews, and in-game details.

Parallel to the live blog, to power the insights of the game, Chessdom brings onboard a 128 cores Super Computer equipped with the current TCEC champion Stockfish and a neural network based on Alpha Zero- Lc0 – on Google Tesla V100 infrastructure. You read correctly, this is the strongest EVER analysis provided for a chess game. The best lines suggested by the computer (principle variation) and the current evaluation of the position can be followed here

Game 1 starts with live eval here at 15:00 GMT, 16:00 CET, 9:00 Eastern Time

Refresh the page to get the latest news

15:45 CET

The match is about to start. Join us for live commentary and evals by Lc0 and Stockfish [128] at the Caruana – Carlsen game 1 live

15:00 CET

Everything is ready for the World Chess Championship to start (photo by Niki Riga)


14:30 CET

Magnus Carlsen at yesterday’s press conference answered to a question by the British Chess Magazine

Magnus Carlsen
14:00 CET

Only 2 hours left to the inaugural move of the World Chess Championship match 2018 between Carlsen and Caruana. What is your prediction for the first move by Fabiano Caruana 1. e4 or 1. d4 ? This is the first match for the American player at the World Championships and the pressure is on him to have white at Game 1 and Game 12.

13:30 CET

Norwegian journalist Tarjei Svensen points an embarrassing fact, the BBC can’t spell Carlsen’s name correctly, putting him as “Magnus Carsen”

The content of the report is not a quality one either. While Carlsen makes some nice children very happy, nothing gets to be known about the importance of the event that will take place in London. Compared to previous championships like Sofia 2010 or Chennai 2013, both the quality and quantity of mass media reports worldwide has experienced a drastic decline.


13:15 CET

Talking about World Chess Championships, it is a historical day today. On this day in 1985, Garry Kasparov defeated Anatoly Karpov to become a World Champion. At that time Kasparov was only 22 years old.


Kasparov commented on Twitter, “Finally, a “Day In History” about a match I won! Fitting that it’s also the first day of the Carlsen-Caruana world championship match. I’ll be calling in to the broadcast coverage to see how my “great successors” are doing.”

13:00 CET

It is the calm before the storm. With the match approaching in only 3 hours it is the quietest time before a real explosion of emotions at 16:00 CET. Right now, an interesting article by The Conversation with 5 things to know about Fabiano Caruana and his quest to become world chess champion. It has analysis on what characteristics enabled Fabiano Caruana to become a contender for the world chess championship, what are Caruana’s winning odds, and what will be the impact of a victory by Fabiano Caruana. Read the full article here

12:00 CET

Result from Tata Steel Chess India: R1 Mamedyarov – Vidit 1-0, all other games draw. R2 Karjakin – Anand 1/2 – 1/2, Vidit – Nakamura 1/2 – 1/2, all other games live here

11:15 CET

Breaking news: At yesterday’s opening ceremony Fabiano Caruana has confirmed that Leela Chess Zero aka Lco, the same engine that will comment the World Chess Championship 2018 live here, was essential part of his preparation. “It was very helpful,” Caruana affirmed to a Lc0’s team member.

The confirmation has disproved the speculation by the newspaper ABC of Alpha Zero helping Caruana (scroll down for that update), and has supported’s initial information.

11:00 CET

One of the most remembered moments from yesterday’s press conference will be Carlsen’s joke when asked about the role of women in his preparation for the World Championship match, “Women hate me, I repel them”. Let’s see what some of the top women players that are currently at the Women World Championship think about the match:

Kateryna Lagno, Russia, “I expect interesting games and the fight till the last move. I will be rooting for Carlsen. But I don t know why, it seems to me that Caruana will win. I love the way Magnus plays, but my intuition tells me that he won’t hold the crown this time. His opponent is younger, and probably his motivation is higher than that of Magnus. I trust my intuition. Let’s see whether it is not deceiving me.”

Antoaneta Stefanova, Bulgaria, “I am sure it will be a very interesting match. Remembering the Carlsen- Karjakin match, we can expect anything from it as well. World №1 and №2 will play there. Both of them are very strong players. If you want to know my prediction, I will bet on Carlsen, because he’s got more experience than his younger opponent. Like I said, Magnus is a favourite, but not by a great margin.”

Mobina Alinasab, Iran, “I’m sure it will be grandiose fight that will leave an imprint in the history of chess. My favourite is Caruana. I like the way Fabiano plays, he is a very strong tactician. He can resolve any problem by sharpening the situation. But still Carlsen is the world champion.”

Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russia, “The confrontation of two strongest chess players in the world is always interesting. It will be very instructive. There is no favourite for me. I can’t say anything even about percentage. I don’t know who will win, and that’s good for the match. I hope that such an intrigue will be maintained until the end and it will only benefit the chess world. A tie-break, like it was in the Carlsen – Karjakin match, will be great for everyone.”

Zhansaya Abdumalik, Kazakhstan, “Carlsen – Caruana match is the main chess event of the year. Everyone’s waiting for new ideas and it will be interesting to see what they will invent. Like in all previous matches, Magnus is a favourite. I like Carlsen both as a person and as a professional. He is the most versatile player of the chess elite. A position makes no difference to him, he tries to squeeze everything out of it. I like that he constantly finds finest nuances in any position and outplays his opponents step by step. I think the match will be tough for both participants, their preparation will be on the highest level, but Carlsen will win. After all, his nerves are a little stronger, and this is the most important thing.”

Nana Dzagnidze, Georgia, “It will be a matter of life or death for them, and we will see. The question remains the same: will anyone beat Carlsen? There is no favorite for me. I will be rooting for an interesting struggle. I like both of them. Maybe, Carlsen appeals to me a little bit more because he’s playing rapid and blitz much better than his opponent.”

The reigning women’s world champion Ju Wenjun (China) refused to give her opinion about the match in London. “Sorry, during the tournament, I’m concentrating on my own games”, she said.

Ekaterina Lagno

10:30 CET

A World Championship cannot be a World Championship without rumors. The Spanish newspaper ABC speculates that Fabiano Caruana was training for the match with the Neural Network Alpha Zero. The speculation though is based on the thin connection that Caruana is American and the owners of Google Deep Mind are also connected to the USA.

A much more viable assumption could of course be the Caruana, and Carlsen as well, together with their team of seconds, tried as additional training the freely available project based on Alpha Zero – Leela Chess Zero. Leela aka Lc0 has been competitively rising in ELO, reaching the semifinals of the Top Chess Engine Championship Cup, where it was knocked out by the champion Stockfish

The neural network Lc0 certainly gives different and interesting alternative move and approaches compared to standard engines, that is why Chessdom will make sure you have the variations by Lc0 at the live games coverage

Neural networks like Lc0 will continue their advance into the chess world and will soon become an important educational tool, as their style can easily be adjusted

Neural networks like Lc0 will continue their advance into the chess world and will soon become an important educational tool, as their style can easily be adjusted

For more on the topic of Neural Networks, join the chat with expert opinions here

10:00 CET

As only 6 hours are left to the start of the match, a few words about the The Carlsen-Caruana venue – the encounter take place at The College in Holborn, Central London. According to its official website is “a spectacular building that measures 35,000 sq. ft over three floors, comprised of different sized and styled spaces. It has retained a great number of original features including authentic Victorian furnishings, marble reception areas, and a breath-taking glass-dome roof. It can be found on Southampton Row, a short distance from Holborn Station.” The College in Holborn used to be part of Central Saint Martins college, a renowned arts and design school. The building has a theater which will be used as the actual playing hall.

This is the College of Holborn that will be appropriately decorated for the match Carlsen - Caruana

This is the College of Holborn that will be appropriately decorated for the match Carlsen – Caruana

9:30 CET

The first round of Tata Steel India is now live with the top pairings Nakamura – Aronian and Anand – Wesley So, you can follow it with analysis here.

9:00 CET

Sports Illustrated also hypes the participation of Fabiano Caruana in the World Championship. “It’s all in the hands of 26-year-old Fabiano Caruana at this weekend’s world championship” A special video heads the SI article, again powered by Saint Louis Chess Club.

Quotes from the Sports Illustrated article

– If America’s descent into chess oblivion began with Bobby Fischer’s decline and disappearance from the scene, then its ascent into a chess renaissance starts with Fabiano Caruana.

– Caruana’s inclusion in the championship is the apex of a decade-long effort to extricate chess from The Ghost of Bobby Fischer. With his appearance in the match, Caruana is riding the coattails of an unprecedented rise in chess culture in the country. Caruana knows the legacy of Fischer is ever-present. “Every chess player in the United States in some sense lives in his shadow,” he says.

– Tall, with thick black glasses, curly black hair, a sports jacket and a white button down, Caruana meanders between moves. He paces, one hand in his jeans pocket, one hand behind his back, stopping for a moment at other boards, striding in a nervous, yet confident, manner before returning to his seat to take a sip from his Starbucks cold brew drink.

– Caruana is ready for Carlsen and, in interviews, appears calm and measured. He understands the historical significance, but he’s also competitive. He wants it for himself. “I can win the world title,” he says. “I don’t want to miss the opportunity. There’s a very strong personal desire to make the most of it and actually win the title.”

– The resurgence of U.S. chess is not just about Caruana, the second-ranked player in the world, and his 12-game match that runs from this Friday through November 28. There are two other Americans who are ranked in the top 15 in the world, and each had legitimate chances to be in the chair across from Carlsen.

Read the full SI article here

8:35 CET

The main driver behind the hype in the USA is of course the Saint Louis Chess Club together with the US Chess Federation. They have done a perfect job presenting Fabiano as a rock star and pumping his best qualities for the upcoming World Chess Championship. They have created series of reports, opinion articles, local stars predictions, and interesting photo sessions. During the match the Saint Louis Chess Club will have their own live move by move broadcast, “The Broadcast will feature our expert commentary team of Jennifer Shahade, Maurice Ashley, and Yasser Seirawan providing coverage of the World Chess Championship match happening in London between current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, and challenger Fabiano Caruana of the U.S.,” but the Saint Louis Chess Club will also not forget the US players that participate in the World Chess Championship for Women, “Commentators will also be highlighting the Women’s World Championship match that will happen simultaneously in Russia. The Women’s World Championship is a large knockout tournament and features two U.S. representatives, Grandmaster Irina Krush and Woman Grandmaster Sabina Foisor.”

Carlsen Caruana 2018 stl chess

8:15 CET

Despite having the expert opinions of a few top Grandmasters from Russia, the World Championship match there does not seem to generate the usual interest. The lack of a local player, combined with the inactivity of Agon regarding content and press releases, have led to a general apathy towards the match in Russian audience. Karpov, as a good politician, tries to brush things up, “I regard Caruana as the Russian player in the match, when he was young he came to my tournaments in Siberia with his father”.

India is also far from the current events. The match is mostly mentioned in media with nostalgy towards the Carlsen – Anand battles and with hopes for the new upcoming players like Nihal Sarin and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu. What generates there more interest in the match is Tata Steel Chess India 2018 – 2019 that starts in a few minutes

The main interest for the match is generated in the United States via the analogy “Caruana is the new Bobby Fischer” as well as Norway, the home country of Carlsen, and traditional chess powerhouses Europe like Germany. From over 100 000 views (about 20 000 unique visitors) that this article has generated so far, 75% come from US, 18% from Europe, and very small percentages for any other regions. As a contrast the Tata Steel article generated ~15 000 unique visitors in the past two days and 50% of them come from India.

7:30 CET

An ex World Champion also commented the possible outcome of the match. Anatoly Karpov says he believes in the ability and the nervous system of the current world champion, “Carlsen is more stable, I give him a slight preference, although it very much depend how he prepared. Because, having become a world champion, Magnus became interested in all sorts of public appearances and participation in public events, but still preparing for the most serious world championship match and participation and public events are almost incompatible. How seriously Carlsen will approach his opponent, the outcome of the match also depends on that. But in all cases the match will be a serious struggle. The chess forces are almost equal, but Carlsen’s nervous system is much more stable.”

12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov

12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov

7:00 CET

Only 9 hours are left to the start of the match. Here is what GM Alexander Grischuk says for the upcoming Carlsen – Caruana and the chances for both players, “At first glance, Magnus should be the clear favorite. On his side a great match experience. I would even call the numbers 70 to 30 in favor of Carlsen. However, if you take the latest performances in the classical games, then Caruana has won several tournaments over the past year. Carlsen cannot boast of such results. In this regard, the odds in favor of Magnus are reduced to 60 to 40.” Grischuk goes on to wonder about possible tiebreaks, “The only thing I do not understand is, how does a Grandmaster of such a level as Caruana play so poorly in rapid blitz and blitz? But if it comes to a tie-break, at such a short distance of four games in rapid, anything can happen.”

6:30 CET

We start the day with some hot predictions for the World Chess Championship. First is GM Susan Polgar, who says on her website:

Fabiano has been on a hot streak going into this World Championship match. He is well prepared, especially in the opening, and has a good team behind him. He is pretty strong mentally and emotionally. He is also physically fit.

Magnus has not played well recently but there is huge difference between tournament play and match play. His current rating is far below his peak rating. His opening is decent but not as strong as Fabiano. He has always relied on his strong middle game and endgame skill, and unbelievable patience to grind his opponents down. However, it may not be very effective against Fabiano as he has no problem playing out very long games.

So what can Magnus rely on? His World Championship experience! He knows how to win. He knows how to come back (in Karjakin’s match). This is so important. In addition, there is no pressure on Magnus to win in 12 games as he believes that he is much stronger than Fabiano in Rapid and Blitz Chess. He won the World Rapid & Blitz Championships before. He will be very confident if the match goes that far, just as he was against Karjakin two years ago in the playoff.

So what does Fabiano need to avoid? The most important thing is he has to avoid getting into time pressure as he sometimes does, especially in the first few games. Every half a point is so important in a World Championship match so Fabiano cannot afford to give away any by blundering in time pressure. He also needs to avoid getting behind in the score. He has to make sure that he can control his nerves in the first few games. No matter how much one prepares, it is very hard to stay calm in a situation this important.

Both Magnus and Fabiano are tough fighters with strong will to win. This match will come down to the players’ nerves. The one who can control his emotion better will have the best chance to win.

In conclusion, I give a small edge to Magnus only because of his World Championship experience. / GM Susan Polgar

3:30 CET

What was the first classical game between Caruana and Carlsen at a big forum? That was back in 2010 when the two met in Crous 2010 (later to be renamed Tata Steel). The game was commented live by IM Miodrag Perunovic and you can replay it here with commentary. With this short note we will make a few hours pause in our live blog. See you in a while with the fresh news from London’s 2018 WCC match Carlsen – Caruana!

3:00 CET

Carlsen choosing the black pieces to start with (photo by the talented Niki Riga). This means that in the middle of the match Carlsen will have two consecutive whites, while Caruana will be the one to have the white pieces advantage in game 12.

Carlsen - Caruana

2:30 CET

The disaster of global interest in chess provoked by Agon’s broadcast policy is a given. We will talk about this a lot today and in the next days by providing specific facts and figures from the first Carlsen – Anand match in Chennai compared to today’s situation. A good example what happens is today’s press conference of the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen and the challenger Fabiano Caruana. Up to this moment, many hours after the end of the press conference, the official video by @theworldchess Facebook page is seen less than 10 000 times. This is magnitudes less than any other previous World Chess Championship, although this event has all the ingredients to break records.

On the other hand, the press conference was a huge success, mainly due to the lively style of communication with the journalists by the two players.

On a question by Al Jazeera whether their profiles and age make chess cool, Carlsen said, “Personally I have found chess the coolest thing in the world since I was age 8 or so. It’s always been that way.”

Fabiano was reminded he is playing against the Motzart in Chess, to which Caruana replied, “My musical tastes lay outside the classical music, I would like to be someone in another cathegory like hip hop or rock.”

Asked if he feels he is playing not only for himself, but for America, Caruana was honest, “Of course I would like to share it with America, but I play as individual, on the board chess players are on their own. Still, I am proud to represent the US in the highest honor of chess.”

2:00 CET

All the recent success and steady career growth of Fabiano Caruana led to one major question. Has America found its new Bobby Fischer? US media jumped on the topic right away. The NY Times published an article by Pia Peterson “Searching for the Next Bobby Fischer, the U.S. Finds Fabi”, followed by Sean Gregory’s article in Time, “This Kid From Brooklyn Could Return America to Chess Dominance for the First Time Since Bobby Fischer”.

One of the best sum-ups of the coming match is by Edouard Guihaire (AFP, Yahoo), who says, “Norway’s Magnus Carlsen will seek to cement his reputation as history’s greatest chess player on Friday when he launches a defence of his crown against the first US title contender since Bobby Fischer in 1972. […] Americans have not had a chess hero since Fischer stunned Soviet champion Boris Spassky in an epic series in 1972 that epitomised the Cold War rivalry between the two superpowers. Now, US media is fascinated with the possibility of the chess title coming home nearly 50 years later.”

1:45 CET

Exactly the small length of the match is Carlsen’s biggest concern at the moment. He repeatedly admitted that he is not in his best form and that a wrong step could throw the match in any direction. At the same time Fabiano Caruana is at his best ever – with 2832 ELO he is just 3 points behind Carlsen, while this year’s chess performance of the US player, excluding his first tournament of the year, is only eclipsed by Ding Liren’s amazing record run.

In January, Caruana finished 11th with a score of 5/13 at the Tata Steel Masters tournament, which was a disaster by any standard for a player of his rank. But already in March he won the Candidates Tournament 2018 with a score of 9/14, thus winning the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship 2018 in London in November 2018. From 31 March to 9 April, Caruana competed in the Grenke Chess Classic 2018 where he won the event with a score of 6½/9, a point ahead of runner-up and future WCC oponent Carlsen. With this result he moved to No. 2 in the live world rankings, a position that he defended and solidified in future events even getting a chance for a shot at the first place before the match. From 17 to 30 April, he competed in 2018 U.S. Chess Championship, placing second with 8/11. In June, he won the sixth edition of Norway Chess 2018, finishing clear first with a score of 5/8 (+3–1=4), despite having lost to Carlsen in the first round. In August, he jointly won the Sinquefield Cup 2018 with Carlsen and Aronian.

1:35 CET

Carlsen – Caruana 2018 is a short match, maximum 12 classical games. The time control for the games is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 1. If the match is tied after 12 games, tie breaks will be played starting with best of 4 rapid games (25 minutes + 10 seconds), followed by up to five pairs of blitz games and if needed an Armageddon

1:15 CET

Just a reminder that today the Carlsen – Caruana match first game is not the only major chess event going on. You can follow Tata Steel Chess India first edition with Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Pentala Harikrishna, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Nihal Sarin, and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu here with analysis and the World Women Chess Championship knockouts here with analysis

0:30 CET

So far Magnus Carlsen has played in 3 World Championships, in all of them successfully. In all opening games of the matches, the score was a draw. The only time Carlsen started with the black pieces was against Anand in 2014. The game finished in a 48 moves draw. You can replay the game with commentary by GM Chritian Bauer here

0:00 CET

Today was the official drawing of lots for the match. Carlsen drew the black pieces at the opening ceremony and Fabiano Caruana will start with the white pieces in game 1. The draw rate in head to head games where Caruana is white vs Carlsen is relatively low, only 50%. From the 16 official classical games they played 8 finished in a draw, with 5 wins for Carlsen and 3 wins for Caruana.

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