The Excitement for Chess Continues to Build
by GM Eric Hansen
Another big round at the 2016 Candidates Tournament took place on Friday, March 25. With the passing of every round, you can see nerves play a bigger and bigger role in the games. It only helps build our enthusiasm during the Today In Chess show!
Heading into round 12, Anand, Caruana, and Karjakin were leading the pack. All three players have been vulnerable in various stages so no matter how much thought and discussion took place, the fact of the matter was the tournament is still entirely up for grabs. Giri and Aronian have had chances for success throughout the event but both players have struggled with their own demons: Giri somehow has been unable to convert relatively straightforward positions while Aronian has been plagued by an inability to play well at his best level when it counts the most.
For the past week, I've been fully aboard the Fabiano Caruana fan train. I would really like to see an American in a World Championship match since it would hype up the title match this fall in New York. Unfortunately, a big storyline for a lot of people has been the resilient play of former world champion Vishy Anand. A lot of people enjoy seeing the oldest player do well while many are hoping he does not prevail. Chess is in a high growth phase right now and a Carlsen-Anand III would not likely spark a lot of interest.
As for me, my first commentating assignment has been getting more smooth every day. In my opinion, I had a very rocky start but have lately found my stride thanks in large to a very supportive production team and helpful colleagues at the Chess Club. Im slowly but surely getting quite comfortable with camera posture and now the main focus for me is to work on substance and how I deliver it. After each day's shooting, I watch the recorded show and try to consume as much criticism online as I can. Today In Chess has been well-received, making all of us in the cast quite excited and constantly looking for ways to make it better. The calling segments and 'Beyond the Board' have been two big hits which are sure to stay.
Some may ask themselves: How does Hansen gauge the chess show is entertaining? Well, when my parents (who know nothing about chess) call me and tell me they are able to watch the show and actually enjoy it! In my 15 years of playing chess, this is the first time I have heard them say that about chess.
To conclude, all I can say is the last two days of the Candidates Tournament are going to be historical and a finish you would not want to miss. There is still a possibility of a large tie for first where one can only guess how the tiebreaks will play out. Be sure to check out round 13 on Sunday at uschesschamps.org; we are going to be amped up to deliver a fantastic show!