FIDE WCCM: Tie-break Print
Thursday, 29 November 2018 00:00
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World Chess Championship - tie-break

Magnus Carlsen retained his title of world chess champion after defeating the challenger, Fabiano Caruana, in a tie-break. The twelve classical games of the match were all drawn, but the Norwegian made no mistake in the 4-game rapid-play match, emphatically winning the first three games so that further play was unnecessary.


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Afterwards, Carlsen exclaimed, 'I am very happy, I felt like I had a really good day at work today. Everything went perfectly.'

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Caruana was fulsome in his praise for his opponent:  'It wasn't a good day for me and Magnus played very well, so all credit to him for that. I had a very bad start unfortunately.'

Carlsen played White in the first game and through a tricky opening move order quickly achieved a good position. Though Caruana fought back, he was always on the brink of defeat and here, when both players were down to their final couple of minutes, he made the fatal error.

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Carlsen-Caruana, tie-break game 1, position after 37 Rc7

Caruana played 37...Kxe4 and it appeared that he was heading towards a draw. But Carlsen responded with the subtle 38 Re7+!! (38 Rxg7 would only draw) 38...Kxf5 39 Rxg7, followed by Rg5 and capturing the h-pawn gave him two connected passed pawns and a winning position.

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Only 10 minutes were allotted between games, a very short time in which to recover, and Caruana failed to find his feet again in game 2.

Looking to hit back straight away, he took on Carlsen's Sicilian Sveshnikov again and as in their previous encounters a tense position arose.

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Caruana-Carlsen, tie-break game 2, position after 25...e4

Carlsen threatens to bring the knight into e5, and Caruana should have prevented this with 26 Bd4. Instead he pushed on with 26 c7 and was surprised by the piece sacrifice 26...Bxc7 27 Nxc7 Ne5. The combination of loose pieces and the precarious position of the king was too much and Caruana resigned a couple of moves later.

Coming back from 2-0 would be a momentous task, particularly when Carlsen, with White, chose to play like a rock, claiming the centre and developing harmoniously. Caruana finally wriggled free, but by that stage Carlsen had succeeded in exchanging pieces. In attempting to avoid the draw the challenger's position went downhill and Carlsen did not put a foot wrong, gaining a second queen and effectively ending the game.

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Carlsen-Caruana, tie-break game 3, final position after 51 Qg4

This was an impressive tie-break performance from Carlsen who played practically and without committing any major tactical errors.

There had been some criticism of Magnus Carlsen after he had agreed a draw in a superior position in game 12 to force a tie-break, but this convincing victory justified his match strategy.

In his victory speech at the awards ceremony, the world champion spoke strongly:

'One of the things that I have never done very well is listen to other people's advice, I have always gone my own way, and that's what I did this time as well. I did what I thought was the best, both practical and sporting decisions, and it's brought me this trophy today' – Magnus Carlsen

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(Daniel King)


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Relief and Pragmatism

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After 31 moves of game 12, Magnus Carlsen offered a draw which was accepted by Fabiano Caruana. All 12 classical games have now been drawn - a result unprecedented in world championship history - and the players head for a tie-break on Wednesday.

The game started promisingly with a repeat of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Instead of 8...Nb8 that was seen in previous games here in London, Carlsen had done his homework and quickly went for 8...Ne7, a line that has always had a tricky, if less reliable, reputation than the other knight move.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 8...Ne7

The challenger had obviously anticipated the move and, at least initially, continued playing quickly.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 12...h5

This move might have thrown Caruana to some extent. In a recent game at the Batumi Olympiad, Kramnik-Roganovic had continued instead 12...a6. The world champion had researched well.

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At this point the challenger showed his mettle by spurning a draw by repetition, an indication that he wanted to have the match settled today. But he consumed more and more time in trying to figure out a middlegame strategy, while the world champion continued moving quickly. At one point Carlsen had a time advantage of around 50 minutes.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 22...Bg6

The stakes were raised when Caruana decided to castle queenside. With kings on opposite sides of the board there were greater chances for both sides to attack.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 25 f4

Here Carlsen had a tremendous opportunity to open up the queenside with 25...b5. Instead he went for 25...a5, but that gave the challenger time to find his feet and after a few moves the position stabilised.

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King R12 5

Caruana-Carlsen, position after 31...Ra8

With the well-placed knight on c5 and protected passed pawn on e4, Black still had the better chances, so it came as a surprise when Carlsen offered a draw which Caruana, quite understandably, accepted.

Carlsen revealed afterwards that his intention before the game started was to hold the draw and head for the tie-breaks, and therefore he was not in the right mind-set to take any risks and play for the win.

'Everybody could see that I wasn't necessarily going for the maximum, I just wanted a position that was completely safe where I could put some pressure. If a draw hadn't been a satisfactory result, obviously I would have approached it differently.'

Speaking about the final position, Caruana declared,'I was a bit surprised by the draw offer...I can never be better here and I don't really have any active ideas. If anything Black is better but I thought I was over the worst of it. It was much more dangerous a few moves ago.'

Later on he admitted, 'I'm mainly relieved because I thought it was quite close today, I was very worried during the game.'

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After the press conference the players drew lots to determine the colours for the tie-break on Wednesday. Magnus Carlsen will have White in the first game. Four games with the time limit 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move will be played. If the match is still tied, then a pair of blitz games will be played with the time control 5 minutes + 2 seconds increment. If scores are still even then another two blitz games will be played up to a maximum of 5 x2. If the players are still deadlocked then an Armageddon blitz game will be played to finally determine the winner.

(Daniel King)

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FIDE WCCM Game 12 review:Just a prelude

World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Challenger Fabiano Caruana have been hitting hard in the first ten games of the match, but game 11 proved to be something of a disappointment for spectators. After a steady opening, the world champion chose to simplify into an endgame where he held a symbolic advantage, but the challenger was able to draw with ease. We can see this game as just a prelude to the real battle to come in game 12.

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Carlsen opened with his e-pawn and Caruana went for his favourite Petroff Defence. The World Champion went for the topical 5 Nc3 variation which the players had contested in Saint Louis in the summer.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 5 Nc3

The challenger has played this variation on several occasions this year and clearly felt very comfortable, playing his moves with speed. The question was, what new idea did the world champion have in mind?

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 11...Be6

All this had been seen before, for instance in the game Karjakin-Harikrishna (and others) which had continued 12 Bg5. Instead Carlsen deviated with 12 Kb1.

There is no doubt that White has the more comfortable position as he has better development and better scope for his pieces. Nevertheless, Caruana was obviously well prepared and he continued playing quickly, responding with 12...Qa5 which practically forces White to go into an endgame.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 14...h6

White could consider 15 h3 or 15 Bc3 here which both keep the tension. Instead, Carlsen went for 15 Nh4, a tricky move, but Caruana met it with precise calculation, and the result was more simplification.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 24...b6

Black has to take care because all his queenside pawns are on the same colour as White's bishop. Caruana solved the problem by giving up one of his pawns, gaining time for his king to enter into the centre.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 33 g3

In such opposite-coloured bishop endgames with regular pawn structures, the extra pawn should not be enough to force a win. Carlsen tried of course, but accurate defence from Caruana brought about a draw.

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Carlsen-Caruana, final position after 55...Bc2

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Here a draw was agreed. If 56 Kxf7 Bxf5 holds the kingside; likewise 56 fxg6 fxg6.

Afterwards Carlsen admitted, 'I was hoping to press a little bit but I don't think there was anything real...obviously the drawing margin is very high.'

In game 12, the final classical game, the challenger, Fabiano Caruana, has the advantage of the white pieces. When asked about his prospects, the challenger declared, 'It's going to be a tough game. At this point the tension is at its peak.'

(Daniel King)
 
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FIDE WCCM Game 10 review: Wild

Game 10 of the World Chess Championship was a wild struggle with both players going for the win. But in spite of their best efforts, neither player could land a clean punch and the game ended in a draw after five and a half hours play.

Fabiano Caruana was once again ready to take on Carlsen's Sicilian Sveshnikov and introduced an aggressive new idea on move 12.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 12 b4


Carlsen had to fight fire with fire. To counter White's queenside action, he advanced his kingside pawns to attack Caruana's king.

The position exploded on all sides of the board. The world champion produced a remarkable idea on move 21.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 21...b5


Carlsen: 'I thought for so long and I wasn't sure about it, but I thought just go for it and up the stakes even more. Either you win the game or you get mated.'

If the pawn is taken en passant, White's pieces would be dragged offside giving Black the chance to attack on the kingside. Prudently, Caruana declined with 22 Nb6 and stabilised his kingside.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 29 Rxb4


Carlsen's kingside attack has been stopped and the play has switched to the centre and the queenside. Caruana's passed pawn was matched by Carlsen's central pawn majority.


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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 35...Qe2

With this last move, Carlsen set a clever trap. If 36 Qb3+ Kh8 37 c4 appears to trap Black's queen, but 37...Rxb6! turns the tables.

Caruana was surprised by the queen move, but regained his equanimity and went into an equal endgame.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 47...Ke6

The position is balanced. Neither side can make significant progress and after simplifications a theoretically drawn endgame was reached.
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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 54 Kg3


Although Caruana has an extra pawn, he decided not to test the world champion's defensive technique, and a draw was agreed.

This was a tremendous fight which could have gone either way, but the players matched each other's skill, and a draw was a fair result.

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Caruana: 'It's the type of game I expected from this line, very very double-edged....Black takes very clear risks because he is going for an attack and he is sort of going all in; and of course I am getting attacked so I could potentially get mated.'

Carlsen: 'I think it was just a case of too complicated and too much at stake, that was the main thing here. I think I could have played better many times. I think both of us made many mistakes.'

The world champion was being too harsh on himself. Although there were a few inaccuracies - that's inevitable in a game of this complexity - in fact there were no blunders and the standard of play was very high.

With two games to go, the situation is still even and still tense, but the possibility of a rapid-play tie-break after 12 classical games looms larger.


(Daniel King)


 
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FIDE WCCM Game 9 review: Compromise, Defence and Frustration

The deadlock continues at the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana as the ninth game was drawn after 56 moves.

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The world champion found a new idea in the opening which unsettled Caruana. After consuming much time, the challenger made a practical decision to simplify the position, even if he stood slightly worse. Carlsen attempted a kingside assault, but with accurate defence Caruana blocked it out and a draw was inevitable.

The first surprise came as the players reached the board: Magnus Carlsen had a plaster above a swollen right eye, the result of a collision on the football pitch. It did not seem to affect his play.

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The world champion played the English opening, repeating the variation from game 4. Carlsen was the first to deviate with 9 Bg5, a line not favoured by the computers, but a very human-looking move as it slightly weakened Caruana's kingside.

King r9 1Carlsen-Caruana, position after 9 Bg5

If the idea was partly to bring the challenger out of his opening preparation, then it succeeded.

Caruana felt uncomfortable, and he took the fundamental decision to exchange off his centrally placed bishop for a knight, clarifying the position, but accepting a permanent, if slight, disadvantage.

King r9 2Carlsen-Caruana, position just before 17...Bxf3

This was criticised by many commentators, but Caruana understood that it gave him a well-defined defensive task instead of facing the uncertainty of an unclear middlegame which Carlsen would have rehearsed.

Carlsen admitted after the game that he had 'mixed feelings' when this exchange was made. On the one hand he was the only one with any serious winning chances; on the other, the drawing margin increased with the presence of opposite-coloured bishops.

Normally, this is exactly the kind of position that Carlsen excels in, squeezing the life out of his opponents in marathon games. But he rushed his kingside assault.

King r9 3Carlsen-Caruana, position after 25 h5

Advancing the h-pawn brings about a crisis: if White is able to play Kg2 and Rh1 then Black's position would be unpleasant, but Caruana defended excellently, making the bold decision to take the pawn, even if it damaged his kingside pawn structure.

King r9 4Carlsen-Caruana, after 27...h4

A few moves later Caruana was able to return the pawn, opening up Carlsen's king. At that point the world champion could no longer entertain thoughts of attack and had to exchange pieces. The inevitable result was a draw in an endgame with opposite-coloured bishops.

King r9 5Carlsen-Caruana, final position

Nine games played, nine games drawn. After the game Caruana was content: his defensive decision-making had proved successful. Carlsen was clearly dissatisfied. Having achieved a decent position he rushed his kingside assault and, frustratingly for him, the game burned out to a draw.

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There are three games still to play in this 12-game match, but unless one of the players comes up with something special, we are heading for a rapid-play tie-break.

(Daniel King)

 
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FIDE WCCM Game 8 review: Fire and Fizzle

The eighth game of the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana caught fire but then burned out quickly, ending in a draw after 38 moves.

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The challenger had the better of the opening, sacrificed a pawn and appeared to be ready for an assault on the champion's king, but then at a crucial moment hesitated, giving his opponent time to defend. The attack faded, and the opportunity had gone. Carlsen declared that he was 'relieved', while Caruana was 'a little bit disappointed'.

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The game started promisingly with Caruana going for an open Sicilian rather than 3 Bb5. Carlsen played the notorious Sveshnikov Variation, named after the Russian Grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov which has a reputation for leading to unbalanced and dynamic positions. The game did not disappoint.

king r8 1Caruana-Carlsen, position after 7 Nd5

Instead of playing into the main lines of 7 Bg5, the challenger opted for a more strategic approach that nevertheless kept the tension in the position. 7 Nd5 is an old move, but has not been researched in as much detail as other options. It turned out to be a shrewd choice.

A position arose where Caruana had clamped Carlsen's queenside, and to gain counterplay the champion had to attack on the kingside by advancing the pawns in front of his king. An extremely double-edged situation.

king r8 2Caruana-Carlsen, position after 21 c5

The position reached a climax when the challenger broke through the middle of the board with a pawn sacrifice.

king r8 3Caruana-Carlsen, position after 23...Bd6

The bishop on c3 rakes across the board in front of Black's king, and here 24 Qh5 or 24 Nc4 are both promising. Instead the challenger hesitated with 24 h3, preventing the advance of the g-pawn, but giving the champion the time to defend with 24...Qe8-g6 – a manoeuvre that Caruana admitted he had underestimated.

The moment had passed. After a few more moves the challenger could find nothing better than to exchange down into an endgame with opposite-coloured bishops.

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Caruana-Carlsen, position after 38 Rg5

Here the players agreed to a draw as more pawns were about to be exchanged.

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'At some point I thought I had a very promising position, but I didn't quite see exactly which moment I had something very good.' Caruana

'This was a tough game. He was the one who had all the chances, so I am happy to have survived it.' Carlsen

The match remains deadlocked with eight draws in eight games. The players have a rest day before going into game 9 on Wednesday.

(Daniel King)
 
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Game 7: Preparation and Frustration

The seventh game of the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana was drawn in 40 moves.

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Carlsen had the white pieces and repeated the Bf4 Queen's Gambit Declined from game 2, but was surprised by an unusual early retreat of the queen by Caruana. Fearing preparation, the world champion did not want to risk too much, played solidly, and the challenger had little difficulty in equalising the position.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 10...Qa5-d8

A few moves before, Caruana had played the queen out to a5, which is the standard theoretical continuation. But returning to the starting square after a couple of moves is unexpected and unusual. The justification is that White's knight move to d2 is also a retreat, and must also redeploy.

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If White is to exploit this unusual idea then Rd1 or even castling queenside should be tried. The way that Carlsen played, he felt he had only one real opportunity to unbalance the position and play for a win.


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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 14...Ne5

Here the world champion castled, collected the pawn on c4 – and the position drifted towards equality.

'Castling is essentially an admission that the position is equal', the world champion admitted.

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Instead, after the game, both players mentioned that they had been considering 15 Nce4 Bd7 16 Qc3 Nxe4 17 Nxe4 f6 18 Qxe5 fxg5 with a very unbalanced position. Carlsen felt that the two bishops should give Black adequate play, and his judgement was probably correct. There is also the computer suggestion 18...Bc6 which gives dangerous counterplay.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 22 Qxd1

Carlsen's unwillingness to unbalance the position allowed Caruana easy development and the opportunity to exchange pieces. In such a dry position, and with the players demonstrating excellent technique, a draw was the inevitable outcome.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 40 Kf2

Caruana declared his intention to retreat the bishop to a6 which would repeat the position for the third time. Draw.

This was a game with tense moments, but the balance was never significantly disturbed.

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The challenger commented on the series of seven draws:

'After the first game, the games have been pretty tight, we haven't really given many chances to one another, and there haven't been huge mistakes or anything, so it's kind of natural that a lot of the games will end peacefully.' Fabiano Caruana

The world champion was obviously frustrated with the course of the game:

'After the last game I feel like I got away with murder so in that sense it's easier to be calm about a draw today. I'm not loving it but I'm not in any sort of panic mode either....I'm not at all thrilled about my play today but life goes on.' - Magnus Carlsen

Fabiano Caruana has come through two consecutive games with the black pieces with ease. For the final five games he has three whites compared to Carlsen's two. Advantage to the challenger?

(Daniel King)



Game 6: Long, strong, miraculous.

The World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana remains deadlocked with six draws in six games. The lack of decisive results is not through want of trying. The sixth game went to 80 moves and lasted six and a half hours before the players agreed a draw, having eliminated most of the pieces from the board.

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Magnus Carlsen opened with 1e4 (switching from 1 d4 and 1 c4 that we saw in his previous games with the white pieces) and Fabiano played his trusty Petroff. The World Champion played a tricky side line, but the challenger also knew the line well and an equal endgame arose.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 21...c5


With his last move, striking against the centre, it was quite clear that the challenger had no difficulties, and at this moment the world champion should have thought about steering the game towards a draw. But Carlsen said that with White 'You always feel like you have more room for error', and he carried out what he described as the classic positional manoeuvre, bringing the bishop round to b3 starting with 22 Bc2.

This was too slow, allowing Caruana to build an attack on the queenside.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 29...Nc4

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The position was still tenable for the world champion, but after a further series of inaccuracies, he had to give up a piece in the hope that challenger had too few pawns to force a win.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 48 g4

Although White has three pawns for the piece, it is impossible to hold onto them, and the only chance for a draw lay in constructing a fortress on the kingside.

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Carlsen-Caruana, position after 68 Bc4

While the players were spinning their pieces around in circles to no great effect, the Norwegian super computer Sesse announced a mate in 30 moves on a couple of occasions. Here for example, 68...Bh4 is apparently a winning move – but this is way beyond human comprehension, certainly when playing against the clock and after so many hours play.

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Caruana couldn't break down Carlsen's position, and after 80 moves a draw was agreed.

After the game, both players were amazed to learn of the miraculous winning chance. Caruana took it in his stride: 'Near the end, I thought it was a fortress...it was a bit of an accidental.

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We are now half-way through the match: 12 classical games are scheduled, and it is still too close to call.

(Daniel King)

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Game 5: Thrust and Parry

Round 5 1
The fifth game of the World Championship match had an exciting start, but burnt out to a draw after 34 moves.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made the ceremonial opening move for Fabiano Caruana, and the American challenger used encyclopaedic opening knowledge to offer a gambit pawn to Magnus Carlsen in a rare line of the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian. The world champion took his time at first, clearly adjusting to the unusual circumstances, but the confident way in which he dealt with this attempted opening ambush leads one to suspect that he was merely recollecting analysis.

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Caruana-Carlsen (position after 6 b4)

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That's the little explosion that Caruana had prepared. In fact the idea is quite old (curiously, the assistant arbiter at the match, Nana Alexandria, had played this in the Soviet women's championship in 1969) and Carlsen himself had faced the gambit when still a teenager in 2005. Then he had played 6...cxb4. Today he went for the more unusual 6...Nxb4, suggesting that he too had researched this line.

King 9

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 10 Bxa1)

Back in 1969, Alexandria's opponent had taken on b4, allowing the e5 pawn to be captured. Carlsen's response, 10...d6, was stronger, holding his centre together. Caruana rejected a line that would have given him a symbolic structural advantage and tested his opponent with a new move.

King 10

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 12 Qe2)

The position is tricky, but Carlsen deftly handled the complications with 12...b4 13 Qc4 Qa5 14 exd6 Be6!

King 11

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 14...Be6)

Caruana had to go into the endgame with 15 Qc7, and that spelled the end of White's initiative.

King 12

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 21...Rd8)

Although the challenger has an extra pawn, in fact he has to be careful as Carlsen threatens the pawns on b4 and d3. However, an accurately calculated sequence of checks liquidated pieces, activated his rook and removed any thoughts of Carlsen trying to win the game.

King 13

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 29 Kf1)

White's rook on the seventh rank ties down the knight and guarantees the draw. Carlsen took no chances, withdrawing his king from a slightly vulnerable position, but in the process returning the extra pawn.

King 14

Caruana-Carlsen (position after 34 g4+)

Here Caruana offered a draw, and there was no reason for Carlsen to decline.

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Afterwards the challenger said that, 'This line is really interesting and if Black is cooperative it can also get very exciting, but Magnus knew the line quite well and I think played in a very logical way'. While admitting that the endgame wasn't much fun, 'I never thought I was worse'.

Carlsen thought that only he could be better in the endgame, but couldn't find a way to push for a win. 'If there is a way at all to play for the advantage, the path is very narrow.'

After five games – five draws. It's still all square in the match. Carlsen now plays with two white's over the next two games which gives him a chance to put pressure on the challenger.

(Daniel King)


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Game 4: Correct on the board, but a blunder off

The fourth game of the world chess championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabio Caruana was drawn in 34 moves. The challenger played with the black pieces and had little difficulty in neutralising the world champion's initiative - which was a source of frustration to Carlsen: 'It was a bit disappointing, I thought I was clearly better after the opening'.

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The challenger, Caruana, certainly seemed happier with his play after the game. 'I never really felt that my position was in much danger.'

Carlsen opened with 1 c4 – a different first move to his previous game with the white pieces and the game went into a kind of reversed Sicilian.

King 5 (position after 6...Bc5)

Bringing out the bishop is the fashionable way of playing the position (6...Nb6 is the standard move) and Caruana has some experience of this line with both colours.

Perhaps the most important moment of the game came after 14 moves when Carlsen had to make a big strategic decision.

King 6 (position after 14...c6)

The logical continuation of White's play is to push forward with the minority pawn attack, 15 b5, but the world champion was dissatisfied with this option: 'I spent a lot of time here...but it didn't seem to work very well.'

Then again, he also wasn't entirely happy with his move 15 Re1, allowing Caruana to play 15...Bd7 preventing White's pawn break.

Carlsen admitted, 'When I'm allowing ...Bd7 it's half a draw offer. After that the position is very dry and very equal.'

Piece exchanges quickly led into an endgame in which neither side managed to break into the other's position.

'I felt the ending was more or less balanced from the beginning' (Caruana).

King 7(position after 34 Rbc1)

Here Carlsen offered a draw which was accepted by Caruana. Black could take the pawn on b4 and the position would liquidate into a drawn rook and pawn endgame.

Perhaps the most startling news of the day was that St Louis Chess Club, a supporter of Fabiano Caruana, had posted a video of the challenger's training camp showing a computer screen with opening lines under consideration. Although the video was quickly removed, the information was already in the public domain.

After the game, Fabiano Caruana declined to comment on the matter. It remains to be seen whether the incident proves to be a distraction or just an embarrassment.

Four games played, and four draws made. Wednesday is a rest day. Game 5 will be played on Thursday 15th November at 15.00 in London.


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Game 3: A Missed Opportunity and Sturdy Defence

The third game of the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana ended in a draw after 49 moves. At first glance this seemed like a pacific affair, but there was plenty going on beneath the surface and in the press conference neither player was particularly satisfied with their play.

King PIC 1
Against the challenger's 1 e4, Carlsen repeated the opening of the first day, a Sicilian, and once again the Rossolimo variation appeared on the board. Fabiano Caruana was the first to deviate from game 1, castling on the sixth move rather than playing 6 h3.

1
(position after 6 0-0)

Magnus appeared unphased and continued quickly with the subtle 6...Qc7, not committing his kingside pieces. The first really big decision came at move 9 when Carlsen offered a pawn.

2
(position after 9...0-0)

Perhaps concerned about a quick kingside initiative, Caruana declined the pawn sacrifice and continued to develop steadily. In stark contrast to game 1, play was concentrated on the queenside, well away from the players' kings. This was turning into a heavy-weight strategic struggle.

In order to speed up his development and coordinate his pieces, Carlsen decided to simplify the position, exchanging pieces and pawns. With hindsight this might not have been the best decision, although Caruana had just one moment to exploit the shortcomings in Black's position.

3
(position after 14...Rxa5)

Here, the challenger could have played 15 Rxa5 Qxa5 16 Bd2 Qc7 17 Qa1, and White's control of files on the queenside and his compact pawn structure would give him a pleasant basis on which to conduct the middlegame.

Instead, he played 15 Bd2, overlooking that the rook could simply return,15...Raa8, and Black keeps control over the files on the queenside. 'It was a bit of a blackout', admitted Caruana after the game.

The challenger appreciated that he had no advantage and decided to exchange pieces bringing the game closer to a draw. But he had under-estimated Carlsen's position.

4
(position after 37 Kd1)

Carlsen was pressing all over the board, using his slight space advantage – as we have seem him do on so many occasions in the past.

Caruana showed his best qualities at this moment, not panicking, but trusting in the solidity of his position, and he expertly steered the game towards a draw by exchanging pawns and then giving up his knight to reach a theoretically drawn position.

5
(position after 49 exf5)

White's king steps into the corner on h1, and it is impossible to drive it away.

When asked after the game whether he was satisified with the outcome of the opening, Carlsen laconically replied 'Nope', and went on to describe how the position would have been unpleasant to play if Caruana had found the right continuation.

After three games the match score is still even, game 4 takes place on Tuesday at 15.00 in London.
 
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Game 2 of the World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana was drawn in 49 moves.

Carlsen started the game solidly by playing 1 d4. A Queen's Gambit Declined appeared on the board with the World Champion trying out the complex Bf4 variation. Fabiano Caruana played an unusual line and was clearly more familiar with the opening as Carlsen consumed valuable time at the board. After Carlsen's 17th move Caruana still had 1 hour and 32 minutes on the clock while Carlsen had just 39 minutes. At that point the World Champion decided to compromise, allowing exchanges that left a simpler and drier position on the board. Although Carlsen had the slightly inferior position, he held the ensuing endgame comfortably.

King PIC 2
The first surprise came for Carlsen with 10...Rd8.

King 1
Caruana explained afterwards that this is an old move that has fallen out of fashion: 'I was kind of excited to try this out'.

Magnus admitted in the press conference that his main thought on seeing this move was 'Oh s**t!'

The critical response is 11 Nd2, but fearing some deep preparation, Carlsen preferred unpretentious development with 11 Be2. His position was quite playable, but he underestimated a couple of Caruana's moves, fell behind on the clock, and that influenced his decision when it came to the critical juncture at move 17.

King 2

Here Carlsen had the chance to make a temporary piece sacrifice with 17 Nxf7, leading to highly complex positions. But given that Caruana was probably still following a prepared line, the World Champion decided to err on the side of caution.

'I thought at this point there was way better equity in playing it safe and trying to secure a draw' - Carlsen.

Caruana confirmed that he was still in his opening preparation: 'I knew this position was okay for Black...'

After Carlsen's safe move, pieces were exchanged, ultimately leading to a rook and pawn endgame where Caruana had an extra pawn, but no real winning chances and a draw was quickly agreed after three hours play.

After two games the match score remains level. The third game takes place on Monday at 15.00 in London.


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