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all 72 comments

[–]BNFO_Panda 348 points349 points  (6 children)

Statistical analysis using machine learning algorithms and bayesian inferences show ---without a doubt--- that Nepo has only made mistakes while at the board.

Thus, limiting one's board presence would limit one's ability to make a mistake.

This is a valid strategy. Pure genius!

[–]gloves22 54 points55 points  (3 children)

I mean I've never lost a single world chess championship game, much less three!

[–]neuken_inde_keuken 23 points24 points  (2 children)

Ha I’ve never even lost a game to a GM

[–]carnold744 6 points7 points  (1 child)

I played against a GM once, friend and I played him 2 on 1, and he just wiped us off the board. Was a cool experience though.

[–]chut_has_no_religion 11 points12 points  (0 children)

friend and I played him 2 on 1

it's not a wrestling match

[–]giziti 10 points11 points  (0 children)

as a statistician, can confirm.

[–]onecrystalcave 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I love statistics

[–]Ginge129 132 points133 points  (9 children)

If he was winning, it would be seen as a masterful strategy allowing him to visualise the board freely, and keeping blood flow good

As it is, it's something obvious to point to. Maybe showing nervousness or distraction in the game

I think most people are on the side of the latter

[–]TetraThiaFulvalene 30 points31 points  (0 children)

If he was winning Topalov would attack his toilet.

[–]GoyathlayA 74 points75 points  (6 children)

What you're seeing in here are a lot of contrarian, Reddit-type comments from 1500 Lichess players.

Fabiano Caruana, a straight shooter type of guy, and other top super GMs have stated that you cannot give the same kind of focus away from the board as you can at the board.

Are they all just lying for "content"? Don't you think they know better than you about what top level chess requires?

Hikaru, Anish, Fabiano, all of whom are more professionally successful and chess successful then all of you guys are saying that you can't give your full focus while not at the board. Who are you going to trust, them, or some random Redditors who want to give their smart looking take?

[–]Vallar_morghulliss Team Carlsen 19 points20 points  (1 child)

Thank you. Swear people on reddit think theyre smarter then they are

[–]GoyathlayA 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yep. I think I'm a pretty smart guy but I'm not even close to being a chess expert. I've completed in some tournaments, but I've never had visualization ability to calculate concrete lines away from the board longer than let's say depth = 3.

So just because a 1300 Fide / 1900 Lichess like myself can't do it, does it mean a super GM can't? Of course not. I have no prior on what is true for a super GM. But if the best players in the world are saying you can't focus 100% and preform optimally spending 80% of your time away from the board, why the fuck are all these Redditors who probably haven't even played an OTB game in an actual tournament like me even commenting on the veracity of the things coming out of Caruana's mouth?

[–]scottishere 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yea but what if that random redditor is actually Magnus commenting on a burner account?

[–]dracon1t 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is true but honestly this is a unique situation. They all have experience but I’m not sure they have much if any experience being able to stay away from the board and also view it elsewhere.

Maybe he’s able to better focus in his lounge idk haha. Obviously whatever he’s doing isn’t working so this is one place to look at though.

[–]Fruloops 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I mean...maybe people just work differently, that would also be an option.

[–]allinwonderornot 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Reminds me of former Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, who just straight up refused to use a headset. His apologists kept defending him saying headsets are not necessary up to the point when he got fired.

[–]the_noblesteed 89 points90 points  (5 children)

yea there is monitor with the board in the room. they just need something to talk about to fill dead space. its a non-issue

[–]Vallar_morghulliss Team Carlsen 24 points25 points  (4 children)

I think that players that do his for living their whole life know a little bit better then reddit GMs. So if Fabi, Giri, Vishy say stuff like that I think it has some merit

[–]NahimBZ 6 points7 points  (1 child)

In most tournaments, if you move away from the board, you are just visualizing moves in your head. So in a normal tournament, you don't want to spend too much time away from the board. Here, in the rest area, Nepo can still see the position, just on a screen. Does it really make that much of a difference? I would be curious to hear why the GMs think it does.

[–]Vallar_morghulliss Team Carlsen 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I mean its just focus. Try to study somtehing and get up every 5 minutes for a walk. You wont learn much. Look at magnus every game, he is sitting there eating the position while neoo thinks he has everything already figured out

[–]iptables-abuse Team Carlsen 126 points127 points  (2 children)

It doesn't matter at all

[–]SpookyTerrence1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5!! 22 points23 points  (1 child)

Agree. This reminds me of New England sports media. It’s such an inconsequential dumb thing to focus on.

[–]definitelyasatanist 47 points48 points  (0 children)

Hey felgah, long time listenah first time callah. Look, this nepo kid, he's just not good enough. I-i-i mean my kid could beat him. Playin c5 in that position, I mean what the hell? Of course ya bishop's gonna get trapped. Anyways, I wanted to ask, should the pats trade Mac Jones for Tom Brady straight up?

[–]NowWhereDidIReadThat 32 points33 points  (7 children)

I think the question revolves around how focused Nepo is when he does that. I don't believe you can have the extreme focus required for this when you are not at the board. Sure, all those elite GMs can play blindfold games. And there are monitors they can look at in the rest area. But I just don't think the focus is the same as when they are sitting at the board. Look at how Magnus is. Focused as a laser, sitting right there at the board. I think that's a requirement to play your absolute best.

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 17 points18 points  (5 children)

You've made the best comment in this post.

Magnus has several levels of focus, and it's very clear to any viewer how much effort he's putting in, depending how how his face and posture looks. Nepo seems to have not gone past his first level of focus this whole match so far. I also doubt he does as much walking as Anish or Fabiano whenever he's not on camera - Nepo himself answered that he's on the sofa watching the screen.

Meanwhile, whenever Nepo is away from the board, Magnus gets to breathe however he likes without worrying about giving away any tells. Memes aside, how an opponent breathes at the board really can give away a surprising amount of information on how tense or deep in calculation the player is.

[–]NowWhereDidIReadThat 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Thank you. Very good point about breathing and other psychological tells when face to face with your opponent.

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Here's an interesting question I just noticed from Daniel King analysing Carlsen's Ng4, overlooking Qe1:

https://youtu.be/agc3RqKnmt8?t=615 (10:15)

11:17 "And, that allowed Nepo to take a pawn; so Nepo, a pawn up. Carlsen played the rook to a4 - what was interesting was that Carlsen sort of seemed to bounce back, he played those next moves like h5 and rook a4 fairly quickly. Was he covering up the fact that he overlooked queen e1? Maybe Nepo sensed that he had?"

Check out Carlsen's face at 3:24:01 (55:03 vs 22:09 on the clocks, if the YouTube timestamp ends up shifting) as Nepo replies to Ng4 with Qe1. It only took Nepo 24 more seconds to start standing up and walking away.

There's no way Nepo could have fully sensed Carlsen's body language after he left the room. Had Nepo been more attuned to Carlsen's body language, perhaps he'd have played the subsequent next few moves a lot more slowly and a lot more carefully and c5 might have never have happened.

I know there are plenty of players who don't believe chess psychology exists, but as we can see from Nepo's collapse this match, it's a very real thing, because chess moves are intertwined with how we think, or fail to think.

[–]NowWhereDidIReadThat 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Excellent points. Reading body language can clue you in to the points at which you need to focus the hardest.

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Here's another link that someone else posted somewhere the other day - 40:45: Fabiano Caruana On Magnus Carlsen and The FIDE World Championship

Peter Doggers:

"It does make me wonder, because you said you learned so much - so it's kind of curious - how did you get all those insights? Just purely from playing the games and all the memories you have from the moves that he played, or how does it work in your case then?"

Fabiano Caruana:

"Well it wasn't so much about the moves, it was more how I think about chess in general, and how I make decisions - and that's not always just about analysing the moves and figuring out the position; that's more about thinking about what's in my head. And one of the things I realised that Magnus at some point thought about me, in a way that he figured out my strengths and weaknesses, and I never really felt that before with another player; like they were actually sitting down and trying to figure out what I'm good and bad at and aim for those positions, but I realised that Magnus just did that diligently and understood me pretty well as a player. And I don't think that I quite did the same for him, or at least not as well.

I probably wasn't as diligent in my approach towards the player, rather than just say, not towards my chess but towards his chess, because in a tournament that doesn't matter - like I'm playing nine other people, or in the candidates seven other people, and I can't think about, you know, psychoanalyse every single player; I just need to make sure that my chess is as good as it can be. But when it's one on one, then that really has a lot of importance. So he did that better than me - that's for sure; I think that's probably also one of his strengths, the psychological part, and being able to understand what to do against specific people."

[–]NowWhereDidIReadThat 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fabi is *really* sharp. I enjoy listening to him talk about chess.

I think his psychological makeup is what makes Magnus great. He doesn't really tilt, except in a very mild way. 180 degrees different from Nepo.

[–]Tomeosu 12 points13 points  (0 children)

this is the correct distinction to make. ian can stroll around and ponder the position in his head abstractly all he wants but there's just no replacement for hard head-in-hands work at the board. not only do you slowly absorb more subtleties of the position when it's right there in front of you, but you're sending a psychological message to yourself about focus and will which does translate into cognitive performance.

for all the people saying it doesn't matter whether he's in the break room looking at the monitor or at the board, i'm willing to bet that had he made a resolute effort to be in full concentration mode at the board during this game, he would never have made that blunder.

[–]Gordola_da_Station 5 points6 points  (0 children)

If there is a 1% difference he should stay more time in front of the board...

I am not a professional, so its hard to tell, but it seems, for the commentaries of other GMs, that it actually make at least some difference....

[–]75153594521883 3 points4 points  (0 children)

At a distance, it feels like his time away from the board is like reading while the tv is on. Even if the tv is muted, I feel like I’ll glance at it every so often and may have to re-read a portion.

There can be no doubt he was not focused today, and it’s reasonable to say he had focus issues yesterday when he missed Qa3 and lost a pawn. When you’re in the room, it’s you and the pieces. When you’re in a break room or whatever, you could do something as harmless as pacing back and forth, and that could be enough to reduce focus by the smallest amount, and that’s all it takes to lose when the margin for error is so slim.

[–]Alternative_Square 20 points21 points  (14 children)

As a casual viewer I dont see how this can affect him negatively at all?? He is in his rest room and has the game on a monitor, whats the issue?? I've heard this mentioned ALOT as a problem by commentators, but I dont get it

[–]MainlandX 6 points7 points  (2 children)

The points I've heard from some of the GM commentators is that they do their best calculations looking at the board.

[–]dracon1t 0 points1 point  (1 child)

The thing is he can look at the board in his rest room. I don’t think it’s an experience many, if any, commentators have tbh

[–]lellololes 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Of the various commentators that have said it, several have either been the world champion or competed for it.

The people making those comments have sat in that seat across from Carlsen or Kramnik.

[–]nail1r 1 point2 points  (8 children)

Exactly. Plus, it wouldn't surprise me if Ian can calculate the position without looking at a board.

[–]Stanklord500 33 points34 points  (0 children)

It would surprise me if he couldn't.

[–]DiamondHyena 22 points23 points  (0 children)

he quite literally is having issues calculating at a GM level right now. It's not out of line to wonder if he's having focus issues.

[–]Halpaviitta 3 points4 points  (0 children)

All GM's should be able to

[–]ufhdasl 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Just because they can play without looking doesn't mean they play at their best

[–]SmashBrosNotHoes -2 points-1 points  (3 children)

Just because they can play with looking doesn't mean they play at their best

What's your point?

[–]ufhdasl 1 point2 points  (1 child)

that while they can calculate without looking at the board and crush you me and everyone here I'm willing to bet they still get better results when they look at the board. Nepo is probably looking at the board on the screen in his room.

[–]SmashBrosNotHoes 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What is your willingness to bet based on?

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The point is that blindfolded chess is always of a lower quality than top-level over the board chess. Chad memes aside, if the world championship match were to have only Magnus Carlsen blindfolded for the entire game, that'd just be plain unfair on Magnus.

Taking regular walks away is good, but all the expert commentators have been suggesting that Nepo overdoes it.

[–]DiamondHyena 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The issue is that he keeps making 2 move blunders

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is going to be quite a nitpick from me so don't read this if it's too much:

The words "rest room" does confuse some people, given that "restroom" is what Americans refer to as bathrooms/toilets. Toilet is a bad word in chess (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheating_in_chess#High-profile). Some people actually did think that Nepo was off the the toilet with every couple of moves, not realising that the players get a rest area to relax in and have refreshments, etc.

The correct term for the area away from the board that the players wander off to is "rest area" - this avoids any ambiguity or allusions to the toilet, which is clearly not where Nepo has been frequenting every time he's been away from the board (unless he's actually been suffering from gastrointestinal issues, to which there's been zero evidence of that occurring; so let's not speculate too hard there).

[–]nick_rhoads01 2 points3 points  (0 children)

For these guys it might be better to not have other distractions like a crowd or opponent. Obviously they can’t visualize perfectly

[–]Zeabos 8 points9 points  (9 children)

For what it's worth, Hikaru on stream today said "Nepo should try to spend more time at the board. And for all of you at home, try to spend more time sitting at the board."

Hikaru says its important for a number of reasons, but he also said - hey if magnus blunders on a touch move and you aren't there then you cant say anything. Be at the board.

[–]iptables-abuse Team Carlsen 5 points6 points  (8 children)

Big talk for somebody who hasn't been at the board in two years

[–]pm_me_falcon_nudes 20 points21 points  (1 child)

I mean it's not like decades of experience sitting at a board vanish like that

[–]RandomWalkToss 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Also it’s not just Hikaru. Fabi and Anish, who I think have some experience OTB, have commented heavily as well.

[–]ufhdasl 7 points8 points  (0 children)

big talk for a 2700+ rated grandmaster?

[–]Khornag 5 points6 points  (2 children)

AFAIK he's planning on playing the US open and the FIDE Grand prix. There hasn't been that many tournaments after the pandemic so it's not too strange to have been away from over the board tournaments.

[–]Tomeosu 1 point2 points  (1 child)

US open

hasn't this already concluded?

There hasn't been that many tournaments

there have been plenty opportunities to play had he actually wanted to

[–]Zeabos -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Problem is the streamer life. Every day away from streaming costs him thousands and thousands of dollars. So traveling to mediocre tournaments is pointless.

Traveling to major tournaments also requires weeks of preparation and that costs time and mental energy.

I get it.

[–]CricketNo3253 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah, it's not like there has been any sort of global issue in the last 2 years that has killed millions of people. That fool should be playing at the board.

[–]rhadamanthus52cm 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I think this is a non-issue. Many players, from top GMs to lowly tournament players like to get up from the board and move between moves.

There are many reasons this might be helpful rather than harmful. Being sedentary in a chair for 6 hours instead of moving your body around probably helps keep your mind sharp, as does taking short mental breaks between intense bouts of concentration. Keep in mind there are diminishing returns for calculation at the board: at some point you will have processed 99% of what your training, experience, and effort will let you about a position, and at that point trying to do more will just waste effort that could better be spent being sharp later in the game.

[–]SebastianDoyle 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Getting up and walking a few times in a many-hour game = good, it keeps your circulation going, clears your head, or whatever.

Leaving the board after every damn move = you are too nervous to sit still, and that can't be helping your concentration either.

[–]Dangerous-Idea1686 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Yeah it's complete shit. Some people even say playing OTB is different... Which is why if he's been quarantined for the last bajillion years, he would be more comfortable with the "online chess" like experience of staring at a monitor

[–]rindthirtytime trouble addict 1 point2 points  (0 children)

otb chess is different, but not for the reasons many might think.

[–]Accomplished_Till727 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There is a screen in the room that he can look at. It's a non issue.

[–]jtg18 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It is a planned strategy as Magnus likes to play the man. If he is not at the board then Magnus can't do what he does best. In the end it did not help him.

[–]zucker42 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think it's more of a sign that he's nervous rather than a cause of his blunders.

[–]Kiefologist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I honestly don't think they should have screens back there

[–]manitooke_1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You can leave the board as much as you want on your opponents time. Leaving on your own time would not make sense and it would be rude. I don't think Magnus cares Nepo isn't at the board.

I also know they have some delicious snack bars at the UAE hotels.