Carlsen vs Karjakin: The Movies?

Carlsen vs Karjakin: The Movies?

| 16 | Fun & Trivia

What if each of the 16 Carlsen-Karjakin world championship games were made into a movie, or into one compilation of vignettes like "New York Stories," "Four Rooms," or "Paris, Je T'aime"?

Which director should take the lead on each game?

Here are my picks. Yes, you will disagree. Yes, you've seen more movies than I have. You, you will be apoplectic that I "forgot" a legendary director. But let's have some fun and put your picks in the comments!

Game 1:

The understated beginning to the match didn't have huge fireworks, but it did show much character development. You could see the beginnings of a great few weeks. Both players exuded their styles that would continue for most of the match. The viewer was being poked, not bludgeoned, to appreciate the action.

Sounds like a job for Jeff Nichols.

Game 2:

If you take the three phases of the game, then blend them together, and add the futility of lack of finality with the ending repetition, you have a plot primed for Alejandro Gonazalez Inarritu. Cue the melodic Argentinian guitar.

Game 3:

If you don't go to the movies to see quality, but instead just want action, you already know who's directing game three. It's time for some "Bayhem" as Michael Bay choreographs the huge final battle scene.

Just like game three, Carlsen's fight seemed to go on forever before both armies laid down their guns.

Game 4:

A really, really long game that ended without much satisfaction, but you got the feeling was difficult for everyone involved? An auteur that often directs movies about gangsters or unsavory characters? Well, Carlsen was pretty salty after not winning this one. Brian de Palma directs.

Game 5:

Carlsen has a wonderful position but is a victim of his own foibles when he comically forgets to write down a move. He panics and thinks he is hurting no one with the random move 41. Kg2, but his actions bring himself down.
Who else loves main characters who are succeeding but then victimize themselves, often in some haphazard way? Woody Allen does.
Game 6:

Tons of pieces creating tension and threats everywhere, only to have many captures in rapid succession and the game ending with barely anything alive? Quentin Tarantino would be proud to offer his services.

Game 7:

Seven draws in a row? It's funny, even if you can't always explain why. The Coen brothers direct.
Game 8:

Why the mysterious 24. bxc4? Did the game really end that way? The subtlety of 51...h5! And of course, with Black winning, surely a film noir. Who is this mystery man leading the championship? David Lynch is the only choice for this one.

Game 9:

Karjakin could have protected his lead with more solid play, but surprises everyone with one of his only attacking games. If successful, the match essentially is over. No one expected this type of game from him.

If you're looking for a director with movie styles all over the map, who can surprise you at any moment, you're looking for Wes Anderson.


Game 10:

You know it's going to go on for a while. Even when it is over, you think, "That was great, but he could have made it an hour shorter." All the topics are weighty. Basically, Oliver Stone bought the rights as soon as the game ended.

Game 11:

Despite the lack of a winner, Carlsen was praised for the very creative idea 18...c3, 19...d4!? He took an everyday position and made it interesting. He saw unique patterns where others didn't. Sounds a lot like Darren Aronofsky to me.
Game 12:

You schedule your entire day to make sure you watch the deciding game, but you really have no idea what you're going to get. It could be the most illuminating spectacle with visceral emotions, or it could just be some short meditation with scenic landscapes. In short, it's a Werner Herzog film.

Tiebreak Game 1

The ninth(!) Ruy Lopez didn't teach us anything new, and everyone sighed when it happened. Though not an indictment of his earlier work, I researched what number the "Fast and the Furious" franchise was up to. OK, they are only at eight, but close enough. F. Gary Gray gets the dubious distinction.

Tiebreak Game 2

So many phases of the game. Middlegame chicanery. The amazing effort for Karjakin to find so many defensive resources. The nervousness of both players' time dwindling. Humanity seemingly at stake. Even when the battle ended, you knew there was more. Sounds like one part of a trilogy, so for this one, Peter Jackson gets the nod.

Tiebreak Game 3

We're going to need someone who knows how to build the drama but almost always pleases the crowd at the end. A director who puts the hero through adversity but ensures his survival. Step right up, Steven Spielberg.

Tiebreak Game 4

You know there's going to be a twist, you just don't know what it is. Cue Bruce Willis as Carlsen, and the director who's made last-minute surprises his entire career. M. Night Shyamalan directs this one (from back early in his career, when it was still exciting). Shyamalan insists the credits roll right after Qh6+.

So, let me know, who are your choices?

[Note: this article originally appeared in similar form as a blog.]

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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