FLASH REPORT: GM Wesley So is the Fischer Random World Champion

So with FIDE officials at the awards ceremony. Photo by Maria Emelianova.

At the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter art museum located close to Oslo, Norway, GM Wesley So became the first World Champion in Fischer Random Chess. So defeated GM Magnus Carlsen by the dominant score of 13.5 to 2.5 in the event that started on October 27 and ended on November 2.

Wesley’s victory, with four wins and only two draws, was so crushing that he clinched the title with six rounds to spare. In fact, the American cruised through the whole final stage of the event without suffering a single loss, showing his supremacy in this new chess variant.

The match’s fate was decided after Wesley won the second through fourth games. Magnus hasn’t lost a game of classical chess since July 2018, representing 101 games. He has been the classical world champion since 2013 and the world number one since 2011, and has also been considered the unofficial Fischer Random champion having won a match in 2018 against GM Hikaru Nakamura. “I just want to congratulate Wesley So, he played a lot better than me,” said the champion after his defeat, before expressing his frustration for his own poor play.

Wesley So, who reached the number two spot in the FIDE world ranking back in 2017, achieves his first official world title in an individual competition—filling a hole in an already brilliant career, with numerous victories in top-level events.

Look for a full report on CLO next week. The official event website is here.

Comments

  1. Congratulation to GM Wesley So !!! You put the USA & Philippines to the map with regards to CHESS & FISCHER RANDOM CHESS !!! As they call it in chess, GM Wesley So is the name of the game of CHESS !!!

    • GM Wesley….congrats….the local boys of san diego (national city),cal. were proud of your achievements, also hand salute to the 1st ever champ of millionaires chess; vegas version…yours truly, the chess balladeer was there on board 2 with your 25 simul chess exhibion…….

  2. Nobody did this before on Magnus, losing a series of games to an opponent. This result creates a legitimate question, is Wesley So better than Magnus Carlsen?

  3. Fischer Random Chess — is not “chess” — and the result shows it.

    The world’s best chess player (World Champion/highest ELO) did not perform well. What does this show? It shows that if you divorce chess positions from the “story line” that arises from the start of the game and remove the opening theory, then it becomes harder for experienced players to find their way in the games.

    This is similar to De Groot’s memory experiments where (chess) experts had greater memory for board positions that represented real game positions — vs. random piece arrangements. Fischer Random Chess is essentially a semi-random piece starting position.

    It is also similar to the advice on how to defeat a stronger player — create a non-theoretical/novel/tactical/wild/unbalanced position.

    This does not take anything away from GM So’s success — but it does show that a “Fischer Random Chess World Championship” is not something to take seriously.

    • i don’t understand your premise. two of the top players in the world qualified for the final. seems to me this disproves your theory of how to defeat stronger players.

    • It is a chess “variant”, but what difference does it make? Both players would be operating under the similar handicap of being divorced from the starting position & openings. If So did better playing this variant that means he is the best Chess 960 player, period. Congratulations to Wesley So on his accomplishment.

  4. My argument is that the contest has nothing to do with classical chess — it is the same as if the two players played gin rummy or Stratego. The outcome is only surprising because the top classical chess player (i.e. World Chess Champion) did not win … and in fact posted a poor score. That becomes less surprising when one realizes that what they competed at was not chess.

    Yes, both players competed under the same conditions…and yes, congratulations to the winner. But again — if they played gin rummy, would you have expected Carlsen to win? The outcome — like the starting board position — is random in this case.

  5. To be blunt about it — not every game or competition involving chess pieces…is chess. There are dozens of chess variants. The classical chess (regular starting position chess) world champion would not be expected to prevail in fairy chess or even postal chess.

    Thus, Fischer Random Chess — while using chess pieces — has little or nothing in common with the form of chess we usually refer to as chess.

    Thus, the element of surprise in the story — that Carlsen did poorly — is misplaced.

  6. Magnus just played bad, same as when he was also suffered a defeat from Ding Liren. Not his time this year and Wesley So played brilliant in this tournament.

  7. There’s no use arguing which one is better. But it is called Fischer Random because the one who named it, also suggested that this way of playing chess makes up for what is the fundamental problem of classical chess: the pre-occupation with opening theories which lead players to churn out memorized lines and sometimes results in boring plays. Of course, there is so much to study and this is somewhat unique for this brand of chess. Fischer Random, however, is not just another chess variant. Because creativity starts at move 1 and careful planning is a must immediately, this has a possibility of even surpassing the attraction of classical chess. This was what Bobby Fischer wanted a long time ago. Players with more natural talent have more chances for success than studious practitioners, especially during this computer age. Just imagine world championships that require more creativity rather than having the back-up of the entourage of seconds and trainers. Imagine the world youth in the last championship round, where a player wins because they are better prepared with the array of seconds Russia can provide. A player from an undeveloped country has better chances of showing their true talent against players with established chess traditions. Even in regular club play, like in my Ashburn Chess Club, I have observed gifted players shine when they have avoided the traps in opening play. Every time, there is something new, and club players won’t be repeating positions consistently. Fischer Random can usher wider interests in chess. I hope to organize a FRchess tournament in the near future.

  8. Fischer Random chess can be a legit variant of chess. Same chess rules applies but only pieces position are different, so in effect nullifies opening theory. What does it indicate of GM So prowess as a chess player? Well, lots of things, he may well be a future contender to the World Chess Crown and may even become a World Champion someday but it strongly indicates that he is a very strong player, it’s like beating the world champion in some end game or semi-endgame positions disregarding the opening where those positions had risen. Because nowadays, opening preparation in classical chess is a very vital component for tournaments at IGM’s level much more, in a World Championship. So we can’t really say that what Wesley accomplished in Fischer Random chess can equate in classical World Chess Championship, but there is a very strong indication.

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