Happy Fourth of July

So today is a big day. As I’m sure you’re all aware, it’s the Fourth of July — the day we celebrate the final day of the 2022 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament. Today, the whole world watches with bated breath as eight players fight to determine who will play in this year’s world chess championship against Magnus Carlsen.

And, apparently, today is also American Independence Day. Seems like they’ve got a day for everything now.

Anyway, as I was saying, it’s a big day. Ian Nepomniatchi may have already secured 1st place and the right to play against Magnus, but Magnus has suggested he may not actually defend his title this year, which means that the 2nd place finisher would compete. And that’s technically still up for grabs if Hikaru Nakamura loses to Ding Liren.

Seems strange they’d schedule Independence Day on the last day of the Candidates Tournament, though, doesn’t it? Used to be we’d just celebrate the real holidays, like Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the winter solstice, but now we’ve got calendars chock-full of made-up days like “Labor Day” and “Thanksgiving.” They’ve literally made a holiday about working, and another one about saying “please” and “thank you.” Where does it stop? Pretty soon they’re going to make a day for something ridiculous, like not dying in wars.

But back to the most important topic of the day: chess. As we all know, chess is a storied, time-honored competition — from hundreds of years before we ever celebrated this “American Independence” thing, by the way — that, at its highest and most competitive levels, is all about ending the game in a draw.

These eight geniuses — real mavens of intellectual competition — are the best in the world at finding some way to make every game end in a dead-even tie. Nobody’s better, not even themselves. They’ve proved it.

Some morons think competitive games should be about things like “winning,” or “losing,” or “being more watchable than an underwater paint-drying competition.”  I say a truly great game rises above such quaint ideas, awards points for draws, takes multiple hours, and is so riveting that the actual players just get up and leave several times each game.

And what’s that thing we’re supposed to celebrate today again? The American War for Independence? Pretty sure that didn’t end in a draw; just winning and losing. Boooo-ring.

No, in our home we celebrate today with a traditional Candidates Tournament barbecue, and end the day by watching the spectacular Candidates Tournament fireworks light up the night sky.

It’s a great time as a family to reflect on the great freedoms and progress we enjoy, such as the ability to watch a livestream of commentators rattling off board coordinates like a sugared-up kid playing Battleship, or watching a computer’s evaluation bar move slightly up or slightly down, wavering between 49 and 51 percent odds for each player.

Of course, as I’m sure you’re all aware, the final results aren’t going to change in any meaningful way, since Iyan Nerponmnetchy has already won, but maybe Hikari Nakamari or Ding Lerin could possibly, if things happen in a specific way, potentially swap spots. 

Burgers up, kids!

Anyway, I guess I’ll try to find some way to “celebrate” this “holiday” about “winning independence from an overbearing authoritarian nation.” Maybe I can squeeze some token celebration in somewhere between the final inevitable draw and the awkward post-match interviews.

I just hope it doesn’t ruin my Fourth of July. 

This article first appeared in the Duzett Gazette, the really official newsletter of Carl Duzett. Sign up here to get more content like this in your inbox, as well as some other content that isn’t quite like it, but is probably also good.

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