The November Titled Arena 960 does a 360 with Bortnyk first, Carlsen seventh

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For the first few millennia, life on this planet made a certain degree of sense. Creatures would eat, reproduce and subsequently die followed by their offspring doing roughly the same. Then, not much more than a hundred years ago, we humans devised a way to harness electricity, that weird stuff originally figured to be used by the Gods to indicate displeasure with us, to emit light, power machines, play video games, and now to communicate with other humans anywhere on earth without anyone leaving their house. Admittedly, not leaving the house has complicated the original eating and mating aspects of multicellular life, but modern makeshift solutions have been devised.

One particularly pointless and strange activity that has increased in popularity due to not leaving one’s house is chess. For us chess players, the miracle of the internet should continually amaze us on a daily basis, for we can now witness the greatest chess player ever play, in real time, for free. In contrast, if we wished to know what, say, Capablanca was up to at the height of his powers in, say, early 1923, we would need to wait over a year for a newspaper report of the 1924 New York Tournament because apparently Capablanca didn’t actually play a single publicly recorded game in 1923. In contrast, Magnus Carlsen has played 467 games on lichess.org alone this year and over ten thousand(!) total on this site.

Though all this may mean we are currently reveling in the glories of Caissa’s new golden age it must be admitted that there are some inherent limitations to the wonders we are witnessing via this magical medium. Carlsen has yet to play a single Classical or even Rapid game on Lichess, and the vast majority of his games (currently 8,944) are of the “bullet” variety. One gets the feeling Capablanca would have probably preferred a regular bullet than to play such a debauched mockery of the Royal Game, but there’s no denying the entertainment value of watching the greatest among us reduced to a mouse-twitching blundering mess.

Speaking of which, the November Titled Arena featured its share of mishaps befalling the cyberspace titans of the chess world, including Magnus Carlsen himself playing as “DrNykterstein“. The eventual winner of the topsy-turvey affair was Grandmaster Oleksandr Bortnyk (“Night-King96“) who has an uncanny knack for winning these events. Most recently, Bortnyk was the victor of the September 1+0 Titled Arena, a time control he is clearly comfortable in given his 76% berserk rate throughout this tournament, allowing him significantly more games (42 total) throughout the two hour contest than many of his illustrious rivals (Carlsen, by contrast, played 33 games).

In any event where a favorite such as Carlsen does not win, it is tempting to rubberneck any and all disasters befalling our hero. Let’s give into that temptation for a moment by looking at few of his most human moments:

https://lichess.org/study/FkRG5wgV/PH1Gw2Ns#73

https://lichess.org/study/FkRG5wgV/Spreg1Ij#1

https://lichess.org/study/FkRG5wgV/zz9GTIjJ#43

It should probably be again mentioned that the above miscues are due in no small part to the prevalence of berserking in these events, thus reducing the stately 3+2 time control of this event into, essentially a “bullet” affair. That said, there were some attractive games in spite of the aforementioned constraints. Here’s Grandmaster Bortnyk creating a nice 960 “miniature”:

https://lichess.org/study/FkRG5wgV/Yzbu0X3c#1

Finally, if readers will forgive the indulgence, here’s, from a sporting perspective, an utterly insignificant game of mine from this event. However, from an entertainment perspective, perhaps it’s worth a mention:

https://lichess.org/study/FkRG5wgV/Ew1gYO6t#1

In any event, congratulations once again to Grandmaster Bortnyk on winning yet another Titled Area. We look forward to seeing him and many more (including Magnus of course, whom we are all deeply indebted to for so often gracing our server) next month for another 1+0 Rumble of the Routers on lichess.org.

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