WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 – LONDON
Magnus Carlsen v Fabiano Caruana
(Ichess.net & Guardian reports)
World Championship 2018 Game 7: No Wins In Sight
Game seven of the World Chess Championship Match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana again ended in a draw. It’s was the seventh draw out of seven games.
Now, there are only five classical games left. That said, the tension rises as the costs for a mistake increase for both players. If anyone loses a game, there are not many games left to bounce back and level the standings. Will one of the two players crack under pressure?
On the one hand, one could argue that Magnus’ experience in World Championship Matches might start to count now. In his last match against Sergey Karjakin, Magnus had a similar match situation.
The players made seven draws in a row and in game eight, Magnus, playing White, pressed too hard for a win and lost. Back then, he urgently needed to win one of the remaining four games which was not an easy task against the “Minister of Defense”. It seems like he learned his lesson and does not lose his objectivity to easy any more.
On the other hand, it also has to be noted that the trend of the match slightly favors Fabiano. He not only had the upper hand in most of the opening battles so far, but also managed to easily hold his two games with Black in round six and seven. Not only that, he was even not far away from winning game six with Black. Out of the remaining five games, Fabiano has White three times.
Coming back to game seven, it was interesting to see which opening Magnus would go for. In his three games with White before, he neither got an edge with 1.d4, nor with 1.c4 or 1.e4.
In game seven, he did not continue the row of opening moves and played 1.f4, but went for1.d4 again. Fabiano repeated the Queen’s Gambit Declined from game two where he comfortably managed to draw with Black. After nine moves, we saw the same position on the board as in game two.
Here, Carlsen deviated first with 10.Nd2 (Magnus played 10.Rd1 in game two). Yet, it was Caruana who had the real surprise in store. He went for the very rare 10…Qd8!? and answered Magnus’ 11.Nb3 with the novelty 11…Bb6!
Magnus had to think for quite a while to make his next moves and did not obtain any advantage whatsoever. Again, the opening duel went to Team Caruana.
After that, Fabiano had little problems to secure the draw with Black. After 40 moves, he claimed a threefold repetition in an equal endgame.
World Championship 2018 Game 6: Fabiano Close To Winning With Black (Ichess.net)
In round six, Magnus Carlsen had the White pieces again. In his first two games with White, he neither got an advantage with 1.d4 nor 1.c4. Logically, he switched his opening choice again and went for 1.e4.
This finally set the stage for the Petroff Defense – the opening which was expected to be seen when Magnus goes for 1.e4 as Fabiano experimented a lot with this opening in recent years.
The whole chess world was excited to see what Magnus’ team had worked out against the Petroff Defense – the opening which was frequently played with Black to draw before Kramnik popularized the Berlin Wall in his World Championship Match against Garry Kasparov in 2000.
It came as a slight disappointment that Magnus went for a relatively harmless sideline with 4.Nd3. Fabiano was excellently prepared to meet this move and even came up with a novelty as early as move 7. The players soon reached an equal position and nobody expected to see any fireworks in this game.
Yet, it was Fabiano Caruana who made the game a bit more spicy in the middlegame. Magnus played a bit carelessly and Fabiano got a slight edge. Magnus finally sacrificed a piece for a couple of pawns and tried to hold an endgame with a very non-standard material imbalance.
He succeeded and the game ended in a draw after 6,5 hours of play and 80 moves in total. Yet, it has to be mentioned that the world’s best super-computers pointed out that Fabiano had a forced mate in 36 at some point. However, as all commentators and Super-GMs watching agreed, the variation pointed out by the engines was almost impossible spot for a human being in a practical game.
In any event, Fabiano had no problems to hold the position with Black in the first of Magnus’ two games with White in a row.
World Championship 2018 Game 5: The Sicilian Rossolimo In The Spotlight Again (Ichess.net)
In round five, Fabiano Caruana had the White pieces. While Magnus has mixed up his opening choice with White so far from (1.d4 to 1.c4), Fabiano stuck to his guns and played 1.e4 in both his games with White.
In both games, Magnus replied with 1…c5 and we saw a Sicilian Rossolimo. In his first game with White, Fabiano got nothing out of the opening and even lost track in the early middlegame which left him with a position that was very tough to defend. In his second game with White, Fabiano got a little edge after the opening, but did not continue in the most challenging way.
Before round five, there was a lot of guessing over what Fabiano would play this time with the White pieces. Interestingly, he did not change his approach and played 1.e4 again. Magnus didn’t change his opening response either and we were to see a third Sicilian Rossolimo in the match.
This time, Fabiano refrained from capturing on c6 and went for a very aggressive line with an early b2-b4 instead. As he blitzed out his moves until move 12, it seemed like he was really well prepared. Yet, as Magnus confirmed in the press conference after the game, the World Champion was also booked up. It took him a little more time to make the first moves, but he found a convincing way to equalize.
The game soon transposed into a roughly equal endgame. If anyone had a very slight edge and could have pressed for more, it was Magnus. Fabiano, in turn, continued with precise moves which finally lead to a draw in 34 moves.
Today’s Game 4 was the shortest and most straightforward game of the match so far at 34 moves in less than three hours. The overall score remains level at two points apiece ahead of Wednesday’s rest day. Play will resume on Thursday with Caruana playing as white for Game 5.
Carlsen and Caruana play to third straight draw in World Chess Championship
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana played to a third straight draw on Monday in the third game of their world championship showdown in London, though the balance of the best-of-12-games match continues to tip slightly in the Norwegian champion’s favor.
Caruana, playing with the white pieces, started with the same 1. e4 as Friday’s opening game and Carlsen again responded with the Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian Defence.
The American challenger earned a promising position out of the opening, playing with confidence and initiative. But they went level on position after Caruana’s inaccuracy following a rook exchange (17. Qb4) and the American was made to defend diligently for the remainder against the dogged Norwegian champion to escape with a draw after 49 moves and four and a quarter hours.
Caruana and Carlsen are tied 1½-1½ with a slight advantage to the champion, who has five games with white remaining compared to four for the challenger. If the players are still tied after the 12 scheduled classical games, Carlsen, who is also the world’s top-rated rapid and blitz player, would be a heavy favorite to prevail in the tie-breaker, which consist of a series of games under shorter time controls.
Carlsen, 27, has been ranked No 1 for eight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he defeated Viswanathan Anand for the title in 2013. He’s making his third defense of the world championship against the 26-year-old Caruana, the world No 2, who is the first American-born player to compete for the world title since Bobby Fischer in 1972.
The World Championship began yesterday in London, and we finally got to see Caruana sit down to take on the mighty Magnus.
We were not disappointed.
Caruana was given the white pieces in the first game, meaning he will also have white in the last game of the match. Carlsen will have white twice in a row in round 6 and 7.
Usually the first game of a World Championship tends to be calm and often ends in a quick draw. This match, however, was very different!
Magnus couldn’t care less that he had black, or that he was facing an extremely dangerous opponent. He went on the attack straight away, sacrificing a pawn to expose Fabiano’s king.
Carlsen built up a winning position in the middlegame, but missed several chances to secure an early win. Instead, we got a fascinating 115 move and seven hour endgame draw.
Click here to replay the game with my analysis and commentary.