When he went down 1-0 in Game 8, Carlsen said that even worse than the prospect of losing the title was the feeling that Karjakin—then the world No. 9 and objectively a class below Carlsen as a chess player—might be the one to gain it.
It’s rumoured that Vladimir Putin gifted Sergey Karjakin a million-Euro budget for his 2016 World Championship tilt at Carlsen;
This time it’s Carlsen and Caruana for the championship and, as far as I know, none of the uncountable threads of corruption emanating from Russia among many other sources have entangled this match—
it’s not out of the question that Rex Sinquefield has similarly attempted to bankroll the best preparation for Caruana.
Fine. Whatever. It’s still going to be great. This article is a lovely introduction for American sports fans.
The first move sets the tone so that the games take on a vastly different shape—1.e4 generally leads to open positions, while 1.d4 leads to closed positions; one is like batting to a right-handed pitcher, the other like facing a lefty. From the moves that follow, the two types of game have different structures, different characteristics, different feels: 1.e4 is like playing guitar; 1.d4 is like playing piano.
In addition, one terrific quirk of chess is that elite players will often engage other elite players on an ad hoc basis as seconds to help them prepare for a big tournament. For example, world No. 6 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was part of Team Magnus for the 2016 World Championship match—the equivalent of James Harden assisting LeBron James at the NBA Finals. Vladimir Kramnik famously seconded for Garry Kasparov with his successful 1995 World Championship match, and then took the title off him five years later.—Ben Tippett, Deadspin[^1]