Wednesday, October 20

Double bongcloud: why grandmasters are playing the worst move in chess | Chess

TOA no-nonsense match during Monday’s preliminary leg of the $ 200,000 Magnus Carlsen Invitational left a pair of grandmasters in stitching as it threw one of the strangest and least effective openings in chess into the mainstream.

Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States had already qualified for the knockout phase of the competition with one match to play between them. Carlsen, the top ranked player in the world and reigning world champion, started the dead rubber normally by moving his king’s pawn with the common 1 e4. Nakamura, the five-time US champion and current world No. 18, reflected this with 1… e4. And then all hell broke loose.

Carlsen advanced his king one space into the space where his pawn had started. The self-destructive opening (2 Ke2) is known as the bong cloud for one simple reason: you’d have to be high to your guts to think it’s a good idea.

The wink and wink movement immediately sent Nakamura, who has been a visible bong cloud champion in recent years, into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Naturally, the American followed suit with 2 … Ke7, which scored the first double bongcloud ever played in a major tournament and your official entry into chess theory (i.e.Bongcloud Countergambit: Hotbox Variation).

“Do not do this!” shouted Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko from the comment booth, watching in disbelief as the friendly rivals quickly settled for a replay tie after six moves. “Is this called a bongcloud? Yes? It was kind of like a cloud business. This from Ke2-Ke7. Definitely don’t try it at home. Guys, forget about that. “

The double bong cloud enters chess theory.

Why is the bong cloud so bad? On the one hand, he manages to break practically every principle he was taught about chess openings from day one: he doesn’t fight for the center, leaves the king exposed, and wastes his time, all while eliminating the possibility of castling. Y managing to prevent the development of the bishop and the queen. Even the worst openings tend to have some redeeming quality. The bong cloud, not so much.

What makes it fun (well, not for everyone) is the idea that two of the best players on the planet would use such a pure opening in their defiance of conventional wisdom.

This bongcloud has been a cult favorite in chess circles since the dawn of the internet, a popularity that only feeds on that of Bobby Fischer. rumored opening rollout in its alleged series of games with Nigel Short at the Internet Chess Club in 2000. But his origins as a memes goes back to Andrew Fabbro’s underground book Earn with Bongcloud, a perfect parody of chess opening manuals and the heavy, purple language that fills its pages.

That’s not to say, like, say, Michael Chang’s hidden service against Ivan Lendl at the 1989 French Open, there is no place for him at the elite level. Carlsen i used it last october in the first game of a final rapid chess victory over American grandmaster Wesley So, who confessed its psychological effects afterwards: “It’s hard to forget the game when someone plays f3 and Kf2 and just crushes you. That is so humiliating. “

Then later: “If you lose a game against 1 f3 and 2 Kf2, it is very draining psychologically.”

Of course, it is Nakamura who has become the player most associated with the bongcloud. The 33-year-old most recently won a quick game using it against American grandmaster Jeffery Xiong last year during the $ 250,000 27-round Rapid and Blitz in St Louis. Is even broadcast a series of speedrun where you tried to reach a rating of 3000 with a new account using only bongcloud.

The combined visibility, culminating in Monday’s viral moment, has raised a dark meme that opens from underground. As of Wednesday, it was added to the opening databases at lichess and

Chess will return to Serious Business once again in the coming months. The eight-candidate tournament to determine Carlsen’s challenger at this year’s world chess championship. will resume in April in Yekaterinburg after last year’s abrupt suspension. Then in November, Carlsen will embark on his fourth title defense since 2013. The stratospheric stakes of those events almost exclude scenes like Monday’s, which as commentator Tania Sachdev put it amid Monday’s delusion, is a pity. After all, it is just a game.

“It’s kind of nice,” Sachdev said, “to see these two players laugh like this.”

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