Nakamura-Carlsen Fischer Random Chess Tied After Day 1
The unofficial Fischer random (chess960) world championship match between "reigning champion" Hikaru Nakamura and "challenger" Magnus Carlsen started with two draws. In the first half of the match the games count double and so the score is 2-2.
After a hiatus of 8.5 years, Fischer random at the highest level finally returned to the chess arena. Nakamura defeated Levon Aronian in the last edition of the annual Mainz in 2009, but then the tournament ceased to exist.
Today the tradition was picked up again.
The organizers dubbed their match the "unofficial world championship," and therefore Nakamura's invitation was logical—as was Carlsen's. After all, we're talking about Norwegian organizers!
Chess is big in Norway, as long as Carlsen is involved. And so, on the day when the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang were opened, national broadcaster NRK had a five-hour live show focused on just one table, two chairs, two players and a chess set.
@frchesscom) February 9, 2018
But this time, it was all a bit different for the Norwegian viewers. Not only were the players in a museum (surrounded by photos of Dag Alveng, Norway's most famous photographer), but they were also playing a different kind of chess.
Half an hour before the start of game one, the position of the pieces was decided randomly by computer. Fifteen minutes before the start, Carlsen and Nakamura were told about it. After winning the drawing of lots yesterday, it was the Norwegian who played as White, with little time to prepare.
@ChessClassic) February 9, 2018
This first game of the match was rather timid, as the players quickly reached a symmetrical pawn structure, and as early as move 23, only four bishops were still on the board.
Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg makes Carlsen's first move. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
After the first game, there were about 1.5 hours until the second. This meant that both players had more time to prepare the (same) position, and this time Nakamura got to play it with the white pieces.
@TarjeiJS) February 9, 2018
Only in chess960 do you get to see a white rook on d4 after three moves, which is what happened! Soon after, Nakamura's other rook developed via h3, and the American player continued energetically. On move 21 he missed an excellent chance to maybe take the lead in the match.
Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov
"I thought I played reasonably well," said Nakamura afterward. "In the first game, I wasn't really happy with my opening play. But again, it was the first game; you don't really have time to prepare, not just prepare, but you don't even have time to feel the position that much."
The American GM also revealed that he had played some Fischer random games the night before and even in the morning. He used his own account, so don't be surprised if he shows up on Chess.com tomorrow again!
Our friends from @PolarGlobal confirmed: there was a tiny glitch in the system, which showed @MagnusCarlsen’s heart rate wrong sometimes, but it’s been already fixed! Great news! Tomorrow we will also bring the heart rate monitor to our show at https://t.co/nLKXgTClXL! #frchess pic.twitter.com/1APLKPBLLR— Nakamura vs Carlsen ( @frchesscom) February 9, 2018
On Norwegian television, the fans could also keep an eye on the heart rates of the players. For the next four days, the Chess.com live broadcast will (most probably) also have access to this data.
The Nakamura-Carlsen Fischer random match will see three more days of two long games, and on the final day the two will play eight faster games. The (impressive) prize fund is just under $200,000.
You can follow the match on the official website, Twitch.tv/chess or Chess.com/TV each day starting from 4:50 p.m. CET (10:50 a.m. Eastern, 7:50 a.m. Pacific) with commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf.
Nakamura-Carlsen 960 Fischer Random Match, Day 1 | Part 1.
Nakamura-Carlsen 960 Fischer Random Match, Day 1 | Part 2.
Carlsen and Nakamura play next to a photo of Bobby Fischer's tombstone. Their table has been made of the same marble as the tombstone. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The players agree to a draw in game one... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
...and exchange some variations at the board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Jøran Aulin-Jansson with Anna Rudolf in the studio. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Chief arbiter Hans Olav Lahlum at the start of game two. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Nakamura and Carlsen interviewed by NRK. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.