Tuesday 21 April 2015

Carlsen's Legacy

Even though he is still a young man, I think Magnus Carlsen is going to leave a significant legacy behind him. Looking at his tournament games for the last 4 or 5 years, this legacy may well be that he rendered opening theory unimportant. It seems that in tournaments (less so than matches) his choice of openings is driven by a desire not to be put into any opening category, while aiming to reach a middle game where he can play interesting moves. In the Shamkir event his last to games were a Dutch Stonewall (this could be called unfashionable) and a g6 Ruy Lopez (certainly unusual).
On one level it is almost a throwback to the Larsen strategy of losing 1 game to win 2 (as opposed to drawing all 3), although in Carlsen's case it is more draw 1 game to win 2. And whether this is a conscious decision of Carlsen's, but it is also as if he is the 'Anti-Kasparov', rejecting the Kasparov approach of finding a concrete evaluation for every opening he plays.
Of course you have to be a rare talent to pull this off, but Carlsen seems to be fine so far. And one group of people happy with his approach, book publishers. For now almost every opening book published can include a game by Carlsen, and in most cases, a game he wins.

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