FIDE: Major Off The Board Blunder!
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'.
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.
(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.
(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).
(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.