Getting your kids eating better with the “Key Principal”


The Key Principal

Let’s begin with an inexorable principal about children: young children, ages 2-5, are fascinated by keys. That is just the way it is, it’s not taught to children, or suggested to them in anyway. Yet the overwhelming majority of children have a seething fascination in their parent’s key-chain. It’s beautifully human, and perhaps the greatest evidence that we are not living in a computer simulation. Something this peculiar and lovely could only be the truth.

Why do young children love keys? Keys are not intrinsically interesting in any particular way. Children have no use for them, no benefit can be had from them. Keys do not behoove children. Yet the keys must be explored.

I believe children are fascinated by keys because keys belong to adults. It sounds overly analogistic to say, but keys are the keys to another world that children are so innately eager to explore.

This is annoying for adults. Children shouldn’t really be playing with keys, they’re not incredibly safe, and it will be very annoying when the child secretly puts the keys under the couch then forgets about it.

Which brings us to the central dynamic, the perpetual motor: kids want keys, parents hide keys, kids want keys more, parents hide keys more elaborately, kids get better at searching, and so on and so on.

Then the parent goes out and buys something like these:

Image a dad coming home with these. He high fives his wife, “the key battle is over!” He proudly exclaims as he slams these toy keys on the counter. “These toy keys will surely satiate our child’s love of keys.”

But this father’s confidence quickly crumbles. When the child wakes up from their nap the parents proudly present them with their new toy: keys! The child does not appreciate the keys, and immediately drops them on the floor. The child doesn’t want toy keys, the child wants the parent’s keys. And this is why every family has a cheesy set of toy keys that no one ever plays with.

Use curiosity, don’t fight it

What is the Key Principal? Children are fascinated by the adult world and are attracted to what is forbidden to them, hence their fascination with keys.

What is the solution? Get a spare set of keys that is identical to your keys and leave it around. Seriously, go to your hardware store and make a spare set of keys, use the same key rings and other paraphernalia that your key set has. Then casually leave it around your home as you would you own keys.

Problem Solved.

Now is this a little dangerous? Yes, extra caution needs to be had. Keys are not ideal toys. Wall sockets need to be covered. You need to key proof your home and make sure there is nothing dangerous for your child to shove a key into. This is very important. Monitor your child’s key time to make sure they’re not destroying anything or hurting themselves, especially at first.

This is the most important part that most parents miss: do not give your children the ringer set of keys or they will not want them. The fact that the children should not have the keys is the crucial ingredient in the allure of the keys.

Wrapping the ‘ringer’ set of keys in a present and giving it to the child on their birthday defeats the whole purpose. These keys cannot be given, only discovered. These keys cannot belong to the child, if they do, the child will not want them.

This is exactly what my family did and it was beautiful. My daughter has spent hours exploring this ‘ringer’ set of keys while the ‘real’ keys stayed safe in my pocket.

Applying the “Key Principle” to food

How do we get our children to eat better? It’s another perennial parenting battle: parent wants child to eat vegetables, child refuses, parent begs, child physically around in the chair, and so on.

Remember the “Key Principal”: children are fascinated by the grown-up world and what is forbidden to them. This paradigm lies dormant in most children like a volcano waiting to erupt. Use the volcano, don’t fight the volcano.

Here is how I use “The Key Principal” with my daughter in regards to food: last night my daughter quickly ate her whole dinner of chicken nuggets and green beans and declared she wanted even more food. Great! My wife and I were eating sausages with baked squash. My wife tried cutting up some squash, while talking about how yummy it was, and put it on my daughter’s plate. My daughter picked up the squash and put it back on my wife’s plate saying she didn’t want it.

Make the dinner like your keys: I silently cut up some sausage and squash on my plate into bit sized pieces, and moved it to the part of my plate closest to my daughter. Then I said to my wife, “She can’t have any of my dinner, this is Daddy’s dinner, and I’m very hungry.”

My daughter immediately reached for my plate, picked up a piece of sausage, which she’d never tried before, and ate it. I reacted in a playful guffaw, “Oh no! I can’t believe you just ate my dinner!” To which she laughed, chewed, and reached for a slice of squash, and quickly ate that too. She ended up eating a whole sausage and couple pieces of squash.

Magic. But all I did was treat my food like my keys: something grown-up, precious, and not for children. Using these principals made my daughter need to have my food.

What would you say?

Parenting is improvisation. We rarely have time to sit down and think about what we should say to our children. So let’s practice! Let’s begin to think of some scenarios and how we might use the “Key Principle” to use our children’s curiosity, not fight against it.


Your child is sick, and you walk into a doctor’s office with her. Your daughter will need to sit in the intimidating patient’s chair.

What do you say?

2016 WCC, Tie-Breaks: The Elegant End

Is the current World Championship format good for spectators?

In any chess match or tournament there will be draws. This World Championship we saw 12 games. Games 1,2,5,7,9 and 11 were “normal” length draws. Games 3 and 4 were marathon draws. Games 8 and 10 were decisive. The frustrating games for spectators were 6 and 12. Both draws were very short, and neither player really tried to win, especially Game 12. Game 12 lasted 35 minutes, and it was clear from the beginning both players wanted to go to tie breaks.

Intentional draws or “Grandmaster Draws” are a bit like an “intentional walk” in baseball. A big hitter comes up to the plate, and the pitcher decides to throw deliberately bad pitches in order to let the big hitter on base so the pitcher can face a less talented hitter afterwards. But baseball doesn’t have entire games where a team says: “we don’t want to face the Yankees, they’re too tough. We’re gonna not try in this game, so we can save our strength to go face the Milwaukee Brewers.”

I don’t know if it’s possible to get rid of “grandmaster draws.” Tournament organizers certainly try. The players are contractually obligated to play till move 30 (Game 12 lasted exactly 30 moves). But the key concept is: it’s hard to force people to fight each other, when either one, or both of them, don’t want to.

I’ve heard two interesting suggestions. The old World Championship format was: you have to beat the champion to become the champion. Meaning, the challenger must be ahead after 12 games to win. If it’s a tie, the champion retains his title. The advantage of this format is that someone is always ahead, and someone is always behind. Someone always wants to fight.

The other suggestion I heard last night from my friend Jerome is: If the players draw their classical game, they play a rapid game. If they draw the rapid game, they play a blitz game. If they draw the blitz game, they play a blitz armageddon game. That way there is a decision every day. If you’re a spectator, you will see a decision. The potential downside of this idea is the potential for some very late nights. I also don’t know how good the chess quality would be coming out of marathon draws, like Games 3 and 4. Just a couple of ideas I’ve heard. But let us get to why we are here.

This is it

Take a deep breath. Seriously do it. Turn off your phone and go in a quiet room. Now take five deep breaths and count down from 10: breathe in 10, breathe out 9, breathe in 8, breathe out 7 and so on.

This is why we play chess. Tie breaks, World Championship, Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin all tied up: this is epic. Appreciate the historic moment. Appreciate the effort by these young men. Appreciate the technology that allows you to see the moves from your mom’s basement. Enjoy being alive to see this historic moment.

Tie-Break Game 1

Click here for Game 1

Karjakin put his king pawn to work in the first game, Carlsen lead the game into the familiar classical Ruy Lopez. The game was a 37 move draw. Karjakin’s pieces never got past white’s 5th rank, with the exception of 19.Bxe6. This match showed Karjkain’s incredible defensive prowess, but you are not going to be World Champion if you barley get your pieces past the board’s equator!

Tie-Break Game 2

Click here for Game 2

Now it’s Magnus’ turn with the white pieces. Magnus is just coming off of his blitz championship against Hikaru Nakamura. Perhaps that was just a warm-up.

Here’s the first key position from Game 2, black to move.


Karjakin decides to target e4. After 18…bxa4 19.Rxa4 Bxe3 20. Bxe3 Rxa4 21. Qxa4 Nxe4. The point, all previous exchanges were to draw the queen away from the e pawn. How would you continue for white?


22. Rc1, pinning the c6 pawn …Bd5 23. b5 cxb5 24. Qxe4! Qxc1 25. Qxd5!. Carlsen just won a bishop and a knight for a rook and a pawn, the computer giving him a slight edge.

At this point I got really excited and ran into the spectator’s hall to try to get Karjain resigning on film.

Had I learned nothing this match? Poor, eager, stupid Tyler. I took about 52 30-second videos. I saw the players shake hands, but who won? What happened? Here’s the final position on Game 2.


Stalemate. Does Karjakin have Silman’s Endgame book under the table!? I mean seriously! Karjakin has used every trick in the book to steal wins from Carlsen. How did Karjakin bring this about?


g5! Another insane save. I urge you to look at the whole game in the above study.

Game 3

I was extremely worried for Carlsen. He tilted hard after Game 5, and we all saw what happened after game 8. Before the match it was unclear if Carlsen has any weaknesses. Now it’s clear, Carlsen’s greatest weakness is his own emotions. Would he be able to hold it together after another heartbreaking draw?

Click here for Game 3

Another Ruy Lopez. On Carlsen’s 30th move he unleashed e4, sacrificing a pawn, but opening the a1-h8 diagonal and potentially freeing the e5 square for his queen. This sacrifice activated all of Carlsen’s pieces, and forced Karjakin in to doing what he does best: not losing!


Karjain took a fatal misstep on his 38th move of the 3rd game. In the above position he played Rxc7. Rb1 was required, harassing the queen, if then Qc2, then Rc1. Carlsen played 39. Ra1, and the game ended. The f1 bishop will quickly fall, along with the rest of white’s position.



Carlsen leads for the first time in the match- Courtesy of World Chess
Game 4

Click here for Game 4

Now Karjakin is in the must win situation. Would we finally see a new opening or some aggression?


When Karjakin played 1…c5 there was a burst of applause in the spectators hall. The sicilian is the most versatile, flexible, and widely played opening in response to 1.e4. Many have pined for Karjakin to take up this strategy sooner in the match.


Carlsen’s 5.f3 is very much in line with the opening strategy he’s used this entire match: not really best, but equal, let’s play chess. For the record 5.Nc3 is about 50 times more common.

This game saw Karjakin turn into a desperate attacker. He tried to chip away at Carlsen’ position from the wings of the board by exchanging his a and h pawns. He tried doubling his rooks on the a file. But now it’s was Carlsen’s turn to build a fortress.


Go ahead Karjakin, move past the 5th rank, see what happens.

Karjakin tried sacrificing the exchange, on move 34, but his time was too low, and his pieces too few. Karjkain’s last 15 moves or so were made with less than 2 minutes on his clock.
Carlsen ended the 2016 World Chess Championship in the most elegant way possible, can you find white’s final move?


The final move of the World Chess Championship was Qh6+!! If king captures Rh8#, if pawn captures, then Rf7#.

Carlsen wins rapid tie-breaks by a score of 3-1, becomes the 3-Time World Chess Champion.

The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Carlsen as he came out for the press conference.

Carlsen’s first words in the press conference were to thank Karjakin for the amazing match and Karjain received a huge ovation from the NYC crowd.

Carlsen thanked many people in his acceptence speach. The most touching moment was when Carlsen explained how central his father is to his success.


A very proud father- Courtesy of World Chess

Final thoughts on the match

At the beginning of the match everyone’s worst fear was a Carlsen blowout. No drama, no excitement, just a beatdown. What we got was three weeks of accumulating suspense around the chessboard. Books will be written about Karjakin’s defenses. We saw Magnus Carlsen frustrated in Game 5, and an outburst of emotion after his Game 8 loss. It was looking very much like Karjakin would join Donald Trump and the Chicago Cubs as the unlikely underdogs of 2016.

On Thanksgiving Karjakin made, what he called, the biggest mistake of the match. He could have easily secured a draw with 20…Nxf2, but missed the drawing line of 21…Nh4+. With that draw Carlsen would have had to win either Game 11 or 12 just to stay alive in the match. But Karjakin played 20…d5??, allowing Carlsen to continue, and later win the game. Carlsen even admitted if this had gone different, we very easily could have a different World Champion.

Thank you for reading

This was my first time covering a chess match and part of me is worried no match will ever live up to this one. I live in Brooklyn, so I took the train 20 minutes to the venue, watched Carlsen and Karjakin play. Then tweeted and wrote articles about what I saw. The response I got on twitter was incredible, so thank you everyone for your likes and retweets. Thanks to the tens of thousands of readers on lichess, redditors, and whomever else found my words.

Thanks to my wife travelling solo with our baby this Thanksgiving, allowing me to pursue my dream with my full attention. Thanks to arex, Nojoke, Clarkey and thoughtful readers who kindly pointed out ***ahem*** a couple typos. This was truly ‘high steaks’ work we all did!

Thanks thanks of course to Thibault for making, and having me as “Head of Media”!

It was such an honor to join the official World Chess broadcast not once but twice! Thanks to the World Chess Team for having me.


Tyler with the Queen of Chess Judit Polgar!


I love chess and New York with my whole heart. So although this was a lot of work, it was a true pleasure, even when I snapped and stopped caring about chess for two hours. I would love to cover chess events in the future, so if that is something you’d like to see, let me and lichess know! For now, this is Tyler Schwartz for lichess signing off!


About the Author

Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.

2016 WCC, Game 12: A Toothless 35 Minute Draw

Does either player want tie breaks?

I’ve been through 12 press conferences with Carlsen and Karjakin over the past three weeks. Many questions have been answered with: “I just play chess.” It’s a little frustrating trying to understand the mindset of the players, their strategies, their preferences when all we get is: “I just play chess.”

But oversimplified answers aren’t uncommon in chess. I once paid $40 for a chess lesson. The whole lesson consisted of me playing a game with the teacher in silence. At the end of the lesson I said, “what can I do to improve?” The teacher responded, “Make better moves!” He grabbed his money and left. He was simple and right.

I also took a lesson with the hilarious GM Ben Finegold. He said if I wanted to improve I had to “stop making mistakes.” That was his main advice! Again simple, and correct.

Would either player try to end this match today?

So I’m going to stop speculating. I’m going to stop predicting. Let’s watch history unfold.

Game 12


Let’s be friends today- Photo Courtesy of World Chess

Click here for Game 12

Game 12 was the shortest draw of the match. Carlsen and Karjakin only played as many moves as they were contractually obligated to. It turns out both players wanted the tie-breaks.

Here’s my key moment of the Game:


Magnus uncorked his most shocking novelty of the match. On move 10, a hush fell over lower Manhattan at the brilliance of the move. Here’s the position. What would you play as white?

In Game 3, Carlsen faced the same mind-bendingly tough decision: Where should I move my rook? Let’s discuss the rook’s options on the e file. e8 seems pretty bad as Karjakin could capture the rook with three of his own pieces. Which piece would be best to capture the rook? I’d say the rook- get that puppy on a open file. e7 doesn’t seem great either, although now Karjakin can capture the rook with only 2 pieces, queen takes rook seems best. e6, TERRIBLE! Black can take with either pawn, fxe6 seems best as it opens the file for black’s rook. e4 is the best option discussed so far, but still seems losing, as black can capture the rook with his knight. e3 seems excellent, although the rook is easily attacked by black’s dark squared bishop. e2! This is the breakthough from Game 3, did Carlsen move the rook to e1 next move? Yes, yes he did? Which is why I’m giving 10.Re1!! Simply brilliant! Carlsen shows us the evolving nature of his opening repertoire. He was able to move the rook to e1 in just one move. What a day to be alive! The only question I have is: Was Re1 found over the board? Or was is prepared at home?


Ok all, see you Wednesday!

About the author

Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.

2016 WCC, Game 11: Karjakin’s Last Try with White

Fatigue is clearly taking its toll

There is no way to know how this match is affecting Carlsen and Karjakin. The games are physically and emotionally grating. Three of the games have gone over six hours. The constant calculation and lack of human interaction is a heavy burden. Carlsen has mentioned the games “spinning around and around” in his head during rest days. He also mentioned “finally being able to relax” before Game 11, implying that relaxing has been difficult for him this match. How did Carlsen relax? A massage and a walk. Carlsen is always in favor of less rest days. Perhaps he wants a more rigorous schedule because he finds more comfort on the chessboard than away from it. Karjakin has mentioned fatigue being a factor. But other than being understandably discouraged after his Game 10 loss, and his Game 10 errors, he hasn’t shown it.

I want to report that I’ve seen Carlsen communicating with his manager Espen Agdestein during press conferences. Carlsen will look to stage left and Agdestein will gently pat his wrist. Sometimes people point at their watch meaning “hurry up!” Agdestein is not doing that. He looks more like a 3rd base coach telling Carlsen not to steal 2nd base. I do not want to speculate what the wrist pat means, or why it is necessary for Carlsen to communicate mid press conference. I’m simply reporting something that I saw.

Tyler on TV

I was honored to spend around 20 minutes in the World Chess Broadcast studio. I talked a lot about Chess at 3, got some good plugs in, and gave my thoughts on the match so far.


Game 11

Click here for Game 11


You’re almost there Magnus! Photo Courtesy of World Chess

Game 11 saw another Ruy Lopez. It was a Game 2 replica until Carlsen played 9…Be6 instead of Game 2’s Na5. The knights and light squared bishops were off the board by move 14. How many pawns were there? I’ll give you a hint: How many water bottles are on Carlsen and Karjakin’s table? The answer to both questions is: 16.


Never a shortage of water for Carlsen and Karjakin- Photo Courtesy of World Chess

In this Championship the dynamic moments have happened in the endgames. So when the pieces quickly come off the board it’s a bit difficult to tell if it’s going to be quick draw, or one player has a particular endgame where they think they have an advantage.

Over this match I’ve noticed Magnus uses the knight as his endgame weapon of choice. Games 1, 3, 4, and the all important Game 10 have seen Carlsen choose the knight for the endgame. Would Carlsen be able to push for a win without a knight?

Carlsen is always fighting and trying to make imbalances in any position, here is an example from Game 11.


Most players would approach this position from this point of view: I have the black pieces today, most of the pieces are off the board, exd3 leads to a relatively easy draw, I should take it, and save my energy for tomorrow. Carlsen chose not to take, but instead create a passed pawn with 24…e3. This keeps the pressure on Karjakin to defend, and gives him more opportunities to make mistakes.

Both players maneuvered their queens, traded rooks, and Karjakin was able to force a draw by perpetual check on move 34.

We are all tied at 5.5 a piece going into Game 12. Carlsen and Karjakin battle for chess immortality on Monday.

About the Author
Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.

2016 WCC, Game 10: The Beautiful Struggle

How did Carlsen and Karjakin get here?

Trying to predict how Carlsen will handle this must-win situation is difficult because he’s never been in this situation before. Carlsen never trailed in either World Championship Match with Anand, and this is Karjakin’s first World Championship match, so it’s difficult to say how the pressure, and high steaks are affecting him.

What we can look at is how the players got here: the Candidates Tournament. Carlsen’s journey to the World Chess Championship was odd. In the 2013 Candidates Tournament Carlsen was tied with Vladimir Kramnik going into the last round, but Carlsen had better tie-breaks. It was a “win and in” for Carlsen. It was a “must outscore Carlsen” for Kramnik. Carlsen got into time trouble in his game against Svidler, misjudged Svidler’s attack, and lost. Fortunately for Carlsen, Ivanchuk was also outplaying Kramnik. Both Carlsen and Kramnik resigned within minutes of each other, and Carlsen limped into the World Championship.

In the last round of the 2016 Candidates Tournament, Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana were tied neck and neck. Karjakin had better tie-breaks, so Caruana was in the must-win situation. It also just so happened that Karjakin and Caruana were playing each other in the final round. We discussed this game in the lichess preview article, where Karjakin’s strategy was to let Caruana desperately attack him. Karjakin ended the game with a devastating rook sacrifice that took advantage of Caruana’s lack of king safety. Karjakin kicked in the door to the World Championship and said something really cool like, “I’m here to play chess and drink vodka, and I’m all out of vodka.”

Each player’s last game of their respective Candidates Tournament found them in similar position to their pre-game-10 situation. Carlsen fell into time trouble and lost. Karjakin used his opponent’s desperation against them and won when he didn’t need to.

Game 10

Click here for Game 10

Carlsen didn’t change his modest opening strategy for Game 10. Carlsen chose the Ruy Lopez with 4.d3, responding to Karjakin’s 3…Nf6. The opening move that had that special ‘Magnus Touch’ was 6.Bg5 diverging from 6.0-0 which is 15 times more popular. Carlsen completely departed from anything seen in the lichess opening explorer by move 10. If you’re just joining the match, this is what Carlsen wants from the opening: a fresh position where he’s equal and can hopefully outplay his opponent. This strategy got Carlsen as close to a win as you can get in Game 3, Karjakin played perhaps the best defense of his life to save the draw.


Karjakin, staunch defender– Courtesy of World Chess

The Weirdest Moment of The Match

Imagine you’re in the backseat of a car with two people up front. The driver absolutely hates apples, while the passenger loves apples more than anything on earth. You are really confused when you see the driver take a right on a road where there is a huge sign reading “Apple Orchard.” He hates apples, why did he take this turn? Then you see the apple orchard in the distance. Is the passenger going to injure himself jumping from the window of a moving car? Will he demand the driver pull over? What’s going to happen? Your surprise continues as the car drives right by the orchard without either person saying a word.

This is how spectators felt watching both players make their 20th move.


Carlsen is the driver, Karjakin is the passenger, and apples are draws. Carlsen plays 20.Nd2 giving Karjakin 20…Nxf2+ with many chances for a perpetual check. The most clear follow up would be 21.Kg2 Nh4+. Carlsen would then have the choice of moving his King to 22.g1, allowing 22…Nh3+ with a perpetual check or 22.gxh4 Qg6+ with the advantage to Karjakin. Instead, Karjakin played d5 ignoring the drawing chances that 20…Nxf2 gives.

Fatigue is setting in for both players. Carlsen said he thought the game was going to be over after he played 20.Nd2. Karjakin confessed he didn’t see the drawing and/or winning line after Nh4+. After 25…Rf7 all the dust had settled from the ‘apple orchard incident.’ Both players had two rooks, a knight, all their pawns, two doubled pawns for Karjakin, and their kings. But Karjakin’s position has a lot of targets for Carlsen to hone in on.

The most annoying square of the match for Carlsen is…

f4. Games 1 and 4 featured Carlsen pushing protected pawns to f4. In Game 1 Carlsen made the move with a white pawn. In Game 4 he made it with a black pawn. Both moves were criticized for the same reason: f4 simplified the position and made Karjakin’s defense easier by giving him less opportunities to make mistakes.

I had this fact in my back pocket and intended to keep it there as it’s ultimately arbitrary. But it’s too relevant to Game 10 not to share it, look at Carlsen’s 51st move.


f4 would totally spoil this position for white. It would cut off the rooks course of d4,f4,f6 giving Karjakin one less threat to worry about. Carlsen played f3, putting the pawn on a square where it’s protected by the a3 rook, it says no, no, no to the knight on h6, and keeps the rooks line of attack open on the kingside.

Would Carlsen actually win?

The long-suffering and brutal positional nature of these games is so unbelievably subjective. Yes, Carlsen had an edge just like in Games 3 and 4. When the games are happening I am a chess agnostic. Carlsen had approximately a 2 pawn edge, and World Chess had him at 75% to win. My heart stopped beating when Carlsen made his 62nd move.


62. Rxg6 was recommended, and after the rook exchange at d3, Carlsen’s lead grows. Kingscrusher shows us in his analysis above, the problem with Nd5 is white will eventually have to trade his e-pawn for black’s d-pawn. In the Rxg6 line, white is able to hold his e-pawn while still securing black’s d-pawn. The players were entering their 6th hour of play.

How did it end?

On the 72nd move of Game 10, Magnus Carlsen activated his final piece, his king. 72.Kf3 began a king march that would leave Karjakin’s rook no safe squares on the h-file. Carlsen’s last 4 moves were king moves, ending on f6. Karjakin has no magical drawing plans this time and he resigned on move 75.


After the game Karjakin gave interviews, he arrived at the press conference early and he waited for Carlsen. He answered questions and follow-up questions as well. Karjakin is a class act. How did Karjakin look? I would say he had a 1,000 yard stare, typically seen on someone who has spent too much time at war.

Carlsen looked like the Carlsen we’re all used to.


So Karjakin can be beat — Photo Courtesy of World Chess

Two more games in regulation!

About the Author:
Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.

2016 WCC, Game 9: Karjakin Stays Aggressive!

Will Carlsen’s strategy change?

During Game 8, GM Fabiano Caruana described Carlsen’s opening strategy: “It’s a bit tame, he probably just wants to get a position where he feels he can outplay him (Karjakin). I mean he’s not really better, but he has chances for some pressure.” I believe, to end up in positions where Carlsen is “not really better” Carlsen has played moves which are “not really best”.

Here are some examples so far this match of Carlsen playing these “not really best” moves in the openings. Game 1: Trompowsky, never before seen in WCC play. From that game 6.Bb5 is found only 4 games in the lichess opening explorer. Game 3: Berlin Defense, 10.Re2, 11.Re1. Lichess opening explorer had 425 Games of white’s 10th move, only 1 played 10.Re2. Only 1 other example of Game 5’s 6.b4. In Game 7 with the black pieces Carlsen played 10…Nc6, only 2 other examples in the lichess opening explorer. In Game 8, Carlsen’s first loss, there were no positions in the lichess opening explorer after just 8 moves.

So far this style, which worked so effectively against Anand, is not working on Karjakin. Will Carlsen make a change? Will he shift to long complicated lines? Will he double down on this style and play 1.b3? Whatever he does, his back is getting closer to the wall. Four more games in regulation, Carlsen is down a game.

The Game 8 Press Conference

I got the chance to talk with Andrew Murray-Watson, Communications Director for World Chess, and he confirmed that Magnus went out early to the press conference on his own will. Magnus was told he could go out early if he wishes, or he could wait for Karjakin to finish his interviews. Carlsen chose to go out solo, and chose to leave early. This ends my curiosity over the incident, Carlsen was out of line.

Update: Carlsen revealed in the Game 9 Press Conference that he is appealing FIDE’s ruling. A process that takes less than 48 hours.
Game 9


Photo Courtesy of World Chess

Click Here for Game 9

Game 9 saw the most rapidly played opening so far in the match. No real Magnus “not really best moves”. The game followed 2009 Nakamura v Kasimdzhanov until black’s 21st move. Mildly curious moment happened just 2 moves later as Carlsen thought over 15 minutes on his move following Ra6.


A curious spot for Carlsen to spend so much time when he was clearly in preparation just a couple moves earlier, and no strange moves in between. Carlsen would run into time trouble later in the game with only 2 minutes on his clock when he reached move 40. If Carlsen wants to beat Karjakin, time management is an area that could be improved.

A cool moment came on white’s 34th move. White to play, what would you play?


If this were a basic puzzle the move Ba4 seems great! White will win the rook for a bishop. The move was a trap. Here’s why 34…Rxa4 35.Qxa4 Qf5! 36.Qxb5 Qxf3+ 37. Kg1 Qd1+ with a perpetual coming. Karjakin did not play Ba4, and recited the above line the post game press conference. This position shows Karjakin is playing very well, and he is playing for the win.

Time a factor again

Carlsen had two minutes left on his clock when he played 38.Ne7. Bd8 was more accurate. Take a look at this decision for Karjakin. How would you continue as white, and take your time, Karjakin spent 30 minutes on this move.


This position will be discussed for a long time. Stockfish recommends 39.Bxf7 Kxf7 40. Qc4+ Kg7 41. d5! Nf5 which was what happened in the game. It was the most exciting and critical moment of the game. Luckily GM Maurice Ashley was in the press room. I asked him, “you think Karjakin will take on f7? “No,” GM Ashley replied, “he’ll play Qb3 it’s easier.” GM Susan Polgar agreed.


In the end Karjakin played the move that sent exited whoops echoing around the hall. Everyone thought, “Would this be it?” Will Karjakin win Game 9, and cripple Carlsen’s chances of defending his title?

When the dust settled this is the endgame the players were left with. Karjakin maneuvered until move 73, when the players decided Game 9 would end in a draw.


A good defense by Carlsen, which will give him some much needed momentum for tomorrow. Three more games to go, Carlsen has white for two of them. What will Carlsen use tomorrow with the white pieces? Lichess will be there.

About the Author

Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.

2016 WCC, Game 8: Time Trouble Causes Chaos

With five games remaining in regulation, I wanted to posit two areas in which Karjakin may have an advantage over Carlsen.

The somewhat lax match schedule

Before the match began, the general consensus was that Carlsen is the better chess player.. The match started with Carlsen’s Elo at 2853, and Karjakin’s at 2772. If Carlsen and Karjakin played 1,000 games Magnus should come out on top. The longer the match, the more likely Carlsen’s advantages will over take Karjakin. The shorter the match, the more volatile the results become, and the better Karjakin’s chances become.

Carlsen has complained a couple of times about the rhythm of: gameday, gameday, rest day. Carlsen would prefer to play at least three days in a row. Apparently Carlsen doesn’t need much rest and the match would be more in his favor if there was less recovery time.

The dates of the last 3 games are: Thursday the 24th, Saturday the 26th, and Monday the 28th. That’s a rest day between each game, rest time that Karjakin needs more than Carlsen. Advantage Karjakin.

The remaining game’s colors

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll make this short: Karjakin had 3 games as black in the last 5 games. He wins more often with the black pieces. We talked about it in the Introduction Article. Then I ranted about it in the Game 7 Article because everyone kept saying how excited they were for Karjakin to have two games in a row with white. Karjakin has more games with black than white, advantage Karjakin.

Thoughts from US chess champion GM Fabiano Caruana


Here’s a transcript from a conversation a couple of journalists and myself shared with Fabiano Caruana today:

Journalist: What do you think of his (Carlsen’s) opening choices so far?

Caruana: “It’s a bit tame, he probably just wants to get a position where he feels he can outplay him. I mean he’s not really better, but he has chances for some pressure.

Journalist: Do you have different way you would be handling these opening moves by Magnus? (Looking at Game 8 move 6)

Caruana: “I think the way Karjakin plays is pretty much – I don’t know if he really prepared this – but he’s playing very logical moves. The only thing I would do different than Karjakin is try to put more pressure with white. But for black I think he is handling it pretty well. ”

Game 8

Click here for Game 8

Double blunders in time trouble

Up to Carlsen’s 35th move, everyone and their mother was complaining about what was sure to be the 8th draw in a row.


Both players had less than 2 minutes on their clock with 5 moves to make. Then Carlsen played c5, instead of the recommended Ne5.

All of the sudden engines are in Karjakin’s favor, but would he have the time to capitalize on Carlsen’s blunder? Karjain did make a mistake and explained why he did so in the post game press conference. Here’s Karjakin’s return blunder (the moves Rxd8,Nxd8,Nxc5,Qd6 have been played since last position)


Karjakin played Qd3 instead of Qa4. To see why Qd3 is a mistake we’ll have to continue the game a bit, all of these moves Karjakin said he calculated: Nxe6+, fxe6, Qe7+, Kg8, Qxf6. Just for fun, can you calculate white’s move that makes Qd3 not ideal?


The move is e4, the move Carlsen played in the game. The move cuts off the black queen’s guard of the g6 square. Now Karjakin had to play Qd7, and lose his g6 pawn.

These are the kind of calculations going through Karjakin’s head in extreme time pressure. Kudos to Sergey for being able to communicate his annotations so clearly in the notoriously hazy post game state.

Carlsen falls


Photo Courtesy of World Chess

I’ll make the same suggestion I did in game 3: set aside at least 30 minutes in a quiet place and go over this game with Kingscrusher and other lichess commentators to appreciate this game better than I can communicate here. With that said let’s look at the blunder that gave Karjain the lead in the 2016 World Chess Championship.


White’s ideal move was Qa6, keeping an eye on black’s “a” pawn. h5 is a blunder because it doesn’t coralle black’s a pawn and gives Karjakin’s knight the g4 square. Now black is able to play a2 and use the a pawn as bait. If white takes the pawn immediately with the queen then: 53…Ng4+ 54.Kh3 Qg1, white is sadly forced to 55.Bf3 Nf2+ 56.Qxf2. If Carlsen instead moves 53.Qa6 then Karjakin plays 53…Qd4, and his attack transposes into the previously state line.

Was Carlsen lost before he moved h5? Karjakin says yes, after 50…Ne5 the game is won.


Post Game Drama

Here is Carlsen resigning Game 8

The big question on everyone’s mind is: Did Magnus skip the press conference? This isn’t just an mildy interesting ethical question, Carlsen forfeits 10% of his winnings if he skips any press conferences as outlined in the player’s contracts. What’s the answer: Kind of. First of all he blew past Kaja Marie Snare, in his post-game interview. Not a great look. Seconds later Carlsen came to take his seat, but he was alone on stage. What ensued was a very awkward minute where Magnus writhed at the pain of his loss in front of a silent crowd.

A fan in back shouted, “don’t worry Magnus you’ll get him!” Carlsen definitely heard him, but the words didn’t change the mood. Magnus waited about a minute then stormed off.

Here’s the question I don’t know the answer to that is central for deciding if Carlsen was out of line. Was Carlsen told to go out when he did, or did he just storm out before everyone was ready? If Carlsen was told to go out and left hanging, then I give Carlsen a pass, and a shame on you to whomever told him to go out so early. You have t oassume if someone loses such an important game they’ll be upset, and the last thing you should do is make them wait alone in front of the press. On the other hand if Magnus rushed out before Karjakin, Anastasia, and the rest of the crew was ready for him, then yes, Carlsen missed the conference, he should behave better, and he should be penalized.

FIDE releases a statement: Carlsen will be fined for missing the Game 8 press conference.

How will Carlsen respond to this heartbreaking loss? We find out Wednesday.


2016 WCC, Game 7: Karjakin Puts d4 to Work

A Quick Rant Before we Begin

Before the second half of the 2016 World Chess Championship begins, I feel the need to rant. Here’s a conversation I’ve had at least 10 times over the past week.

Random GM: “I’m really excited for Karjakin to have the white pieces 2 games in a row, I think that’s his best chance to get a win.”
Me: “Carlsen and Karjakin played 47 times before this match. Karjakin won 11 of those games. 9 of those wins were with the black pieces, only 2 with the white.”
Random GM: “Yea but a lot of those were blitz and rapid games where there’s more volatility, so I wouldn’t pay too much attention to that.”
Me: “I also did a survey of Karjakin’s games against other Super GMs, and out of 323 games, 55% percent of Karjakin’s wins were with the black pieces. You should be most excited for Magnus to have the white pieces for 2 games, statistically that’s when Karjakin has the best chance to win.”
Random GM: “That’s a really interesting opinion.”

***End hypothetical conversation based on true events, begin rant***

Hey Random GM come over, here I have something I want to show you. You see this chess score sheet, see at the top where you write you name, and the date, and all that stuff? Don’t pay attention to that for a second, I want you to look at all these funny little symbols on the side of each column. Those are called numbers. I know you’ve only had to write numbers one through 8, but there are more numbers. Here look at the score sheet again, this scoresheet goes up to 60. That’s a really big number, but numbers go even higher than 60. We don’t have time to talk about how high numbers go, I want to tell you about what numbers do. Numbers represent this other thing called: reality. Reality is where I spend some of my time. I was spending time in reality when I tallied up Karjakin’s scores, and found he wins more often when he has the black pieces against these GMs. That is not an opinion, I’m relaying a fact.

So I invite everyone who is excited for Karjakin to have the white pieces to come join me in this great place called Factland! Let’s take a tour: Alaska is America’s most eastern and western state, Pierce Brosnan was both the heaviest and the lightest James Bond, and “unthaw” is the opposite of “unthaw.” (Source) Karjakin wins against Carlsen and many other GMs more with the black pieces.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Now, who is ready for Karjakin to win with the white pieces and make me look like a total idiot?

Game 7

Click here for Game 7

In our Game 6 Report we speculated 1.d4 from Karjakin. Karjakin must be one of our readers because that’s what he played! But seriously, the reason we predicted that was because some of Karjakin’s seconds, Vladamir Potkin, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are predominantly 1.d4 players. Carlsen chose the Slav and we saw Game 7 steer the 2016 World Championship into new waters.


Photo Courtesy of Agon

Carlsen at his most Carlsen-y


One Water Bottle for Every Pawn, Photo Coutesy of Agon

Carlsen continues his strategy of playing opening novelties. These novelties create equality over the board, and forces Karjakin out of preperation. Here’s how Carlsen did this today. This position is before Carlsen’s 10th move. I’ll give you the lichess opening explorer statistics as well.

Carlsen played 10…Nc6. Karjakin thought for over 10 minutes, and played the equally strange 11. Nd2. At the post game press conference, Karjakin revealed that his original intention behind Nd2 was for the knight to go to b3, hitting the c5 bishop. After further calculation, Karjakin didn’t want Carlsen’s bishop to come to d6, eyeing his kingside. So he improvised and played the knight to e4. This is another great example of what moves like Nc6 from Carlsen does, making his opponents uncomfortable and giving them opportunities to make blunders.

Karjakin’s Big Chance that Actually Wasn’t

Here is the position before Karjakin’s 16th move. Carlsen just played Rc8. If you were in Karjakin’s shoes what would you play?


Karjakin started off with Nf6+ a discovered attack on the b7 bishop. For the next 10 moves both player’s bishops dashed across the board, quickly clearing off piece after piece, like a child trying to clean up all their toys before dad gets home. You know how dad can get. After the dust settled the players were left with this position.


My initial reaction, shared by many, was: great, another opposite color bishop ending, looks like we’re heading to yet another draw. But then, wait! Karjakin will win at least the a-pawn, is that enough to win? Karjakin does have a light squared bishop that matches the a-pawn’s destination color. At this point, everyone emotionally prepared for watch Karjakin squeeze Carlsen for hours and hours.

Karjakin ‘squeezed’ Carlsen for 40 minutes, before agreeing to a draw. Here’s the final position.


Here are some of the reasons why Karjakin agreed to a draw. If the rooks come off it’s really difficult for Karjakin to win. Carlsen is more than happy to shuffle his rook between c7 and c8, ready to hop to the d-file and be exchanged for it’s white counterpart. Karjakin has also been very cautious with the white pieces, and agreeing to a draw here certainly is just that. Karjakin could also simply want to save his energy for a more important moment in the match.

Five more games in regulation. Tomorrow I’ll share with you two ways in which Karjakin has the advantage.


2016 WCC, Game 6: Magnus Tries the Marshall Gambit

Would Magnus’ Frustration Induce Aggressive Play?

This match has not been going as planned for Magnus Carlsen. The strategies he used to win his title from Anand simply aren’t working against Karjakin. Carlsen circumvented Anand’s notoriously brilliant opening preparation with simple openings that produced equality. From an equal position Carlsen was able to use his youthful energy to wear Anand down. Carlsen is employing a similar strategy against Karjakin, and so far it has not worked. Carlsen has come damn close to a win, but Carlsen must feel like he’s playing tennis with a brick wall. The Game 5 Press Conference saw an understandably frustrated Magnus Carlsen struggle through questions about the game. Would Game 6 be the tipping point? Will Carlsen come out guns blazing? Or will Carlsen be over aggressive, playing right into Karjakin’s Hands? Or will it be the quickest draw of the match?

Let’s See….

Game 6

Click here for Game 6

Murray Campbell makes the first move, Mr. Campbell was on the team that built Deep Blue


Photo Courtesy of World Chess

The quickest draw of the match. A bit strange as Carlsen choose an aggressive sort of Marshall Gambit. The Spectators area, cafe, and media center were definitely buzzing following Carlsen’s stubborn f6, then f5. Both moves were made very quickly, implying this is a Magnus ‘home recipe’. Everyone thought Carlsen was looking to pick a fight. But then Carlsen initiated mass exchanges on his 23rd move which resulted in the dreaded opposite color bishop ending. The remaining rooks came off two moves later. The game probably would have ended in a draw earlier but the player’s contract stipulates that draws cannot be agreed to earlier than move 30. The players did two moves better and agreed to a draw on move 32. I didn’t even have time to buy a cheese box.

If I could use one word to describe the atmosphere it would be relief. The match has been extremely tense so far, and now everyone gets 46 hours of rest.

Final Thought from First Half of WCC

Here’s what I can tell you from being around Carlsen and Karjakin for the past week. Karjakin’s and Carlsen’s body language have drastically changed. When Sergey Karjakin arrived before the first game he seemed extremely nervous and stuttered badly through questions. On the other hand, Carlsen was Carlsen, confident, funny, detached in a cool sort of way. I picture Magnus getting into a cab and when the cab driver asks “where to?” Magnus quips, “eh, doesn’t matter… just drive.”

Cut to Friday, November 19th. Carlsen and Karjakin just completed their sixth draw. A reporter asked, “What is important to do on a rest day?” Carlsen answered first, “it’s important to do exactly that, rest,” and “it’s not easy to rest because your head’s still spinning from the games.” The crowd turns to Karjakin, “Maybe it’s important not to drink alcohol.” Prompting a healthy laugh from the crowd.

My, how the attitudes have changed. Carlsen seems stressed and Karjakin does not.

We are halfway through, I cannot wait to see how this match ends! Karjakin has the white pieces on Sunday. Which player will crack first? Many around here are speculating 1.d4 from Sergey. We will see you then!


2016 WCC, Game 5: Carlsen is Losing Patience

An Endurance Clinic

Games 3 and 4 lasted a combined 172 moves adding up to around 13 hours of mental torture. You have to love the effort of both players. Look at Carlsen in Game 4 wandering all over the board with his king trying to find anyway to break into Karjakin’s fortress. And Karjakin in Game 3, finding the incredible idea of sacrificing his bishop to secure the draw. It’s almost unfair to the games to describe them in such an abbreviated way, so if you haven’t seen the games, click on the links and let lichess’ best players, led by Kingscrusher show you just how brilliant those games are.

Everyone has been impressed by the endurance of Games 3 and 4, but what’s the most impressive feat of chess endurance of all time? The 1984 World Championship between Kasparov and Karpov. No question. The match had innocent sounding terms: the first player to win 6 games is World Champion. Simple, easy to understand, but completely impractical match rules that would lead to a total disaster.

Karpov won 4 out of the first 9 games, and it appeared this would be a quick match. Games 10 to 26 were all drawn. Let that sink in for a moment. Karpov won game 27 and now held a commanding 5-0 lead. 4 more draws. Kasparov won game 32. Kasparov played 31 chess games, didn’t win a single one, and still had fight left in him to win game 32! 14 draws followed. Then Kasparov won games 47 and 48. The match score was 5-3 Karpov but because of the momentum of the match, many felt Garry Kasparov was the favorite to win!

It was at this point FIDE President Florencio Campomanes called off the match despite the objections of both players. Karpov had lost 22 pounds since the beginning of the match while Kasparov’s health had not waned. The match was called off and a rematch was scheduled with more reasonable terms. Karpov retained his title.

So while we’re all watching Carlsen and Karjakin spar over the next week and half, let us keep the 1984 WCC Match in our minds and remember: 4 draws is nothing, the 1984 match had 2 streaks of draws longer than this whole match.

Will an endgame coincidence bloom into a pattern?

Carlsen has played the white pieces twice so far in the match. Both games featured Carlsen pulling the game to a similar endgame: Carlsen having a knight and rook, Karjakin having a dark-squared bishop and rook. Is this significant? Has Carlsen spent the last months studying this type of endgame? I don’t know. It’s only 2 games, and way too small of a sample size to glean any insights. But if he does it again, that will make 3 games in a row, and I think we can say yes: Magnus has been studying this type of endgame in his lair.

What exactly is Karjakin’s plan?

I feel like Karjakin is most brilliant when Stockfish’s evaluation of his position is -1.4. Look at Game 4; Karjakin is playing white, he’s developing a nice kingside attack, and decides to trade his e-pawn for Carlsen’s h-pawn. This dubious decision gives Carlsen a slight edge. But that’s the thing: Karjakin performes best when Carlsen has a slight advantage. So when Carlsen has the edge, Karjakin really has the advantage. I have to be careful or I might go on an insane 25 minute rant about cheese, milk, and over the dangerous effects of overhydration.

But seriously, Karjakin just cannot lose! Here’s the last (and only) time Karjakin’s beaten Carlsen in a classical game. The game features an innaccuracy from Carlsen on move 18, Karjakin capitalized on the mistake, and converted that advantage to a win. For Karjakin to win Carlsen will have to do something he hasn’t really done so far this match: make a mistake.

The players are rested, both players have their color they win the most with, we have some of the best lichess players doing commentary, all systems go, set for Game 5 take off in 3…2…1

Game 5

Click here for Game 5

Carlsen opened with the Giuoco Pianissimo for his third game as white. The Giuoco Pianissimo hasn’t been seen in World Championship level play in 35 years. Karpov was the last to try it against Korchnoi, both resulted in a draws.

Carlsen then chose a little-played variation of the Giuoco Piano by pushing his queenside pawns to a4 and b4. Some speculated this is over-extending, and exactly what you should avoid doing against an amazing defender like Karjakin. I disagree, I believe Magnus keeps doing the same thing: making second and third-tier opening moves because he gets ‘fresh’ positions.

For the complete game annotation please consult the lichess streamers’ study above. But let’s look at the position that might give Karjakin a sleepless night…


Bishops of opposite colors, somewhere between a the middle and endgame. Karjakin just brilliantly sacrificed his d5 pawn, as his bishop will be much more effective on the square. This is Karjakin’s chance! He’s in the driver’s seat!

Karjakin gave a really clear answer (unlike Carlsen) as to why he didn’t play the winning move. I’ll try to relay it as clear as I can. The best (and possibly winning) sequence is …Rh8, Qe4, Qh6, Kf1, then Qh1


Karjakin said he didn’t see Qa1, and instead planned Rd8. Rd8 would have been countered by Rf1. This insight from Karjakin gave us a clear picture of what kind of things are going on in his mind, and how deep he is calculating these positions. The game is not over after Qa1 by any means. But this insight from Karjakin was very illuminating, so thanks Sergey!

I want to look at this game through the lens of the post game press conference, which was the most telling press conference yet. Game 5 was a draw, the first in which Karjakin had winning chances, but Magnus saved the draw. Yet Magnus was in a very bad mood at the press conference.

On the other hand Karjakin was smiling from ear to ear, he even announced a new partnership that will supply him with computers. When Anastasia Karlovich, World Chess Federation Press Officer, asked Carlsen to go over his game Carlsen quickly pulled up the position after black’s 23rd move and said “Of course I have a better position, he has no ideas!”

This has been an incredibly tough match, so I have to give both players a pass on their post-match behavior. With that said, I think both players’ attitudes convey the same message: neither imagined the match would be going like this.