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World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Challenger Fabiano Caruana of the U.S. will be playing a 12-game chess match to determine who will be the World Chess Champion.
In case of a 6-6 tie, the World Chess Championship title will be decided by a tiebreak of two rapid games of 25'+10", followed by two 5'+3" blitz games. Armageddon will be the final game if the dead lock could not be broken.
The match will be played in London from November 9-28, 2018, with a prize fund of over 1 million euros.
Caruana - Carlsen
Simply incredible! Carlsen refused to budge in spite of nearly losing game 8. 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 🤔
4 Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Nb8 9. a4 So far a repeat of game 8
9...Be7 10. Be2 O-O 11. O-O Nd7 Caruana is cranking out moves at lightning speed.
12 b4 A deviation from game 8 which Caruana played 12. Bd2. Once again, Carlsen allowed Caruana to unleash his home prep. I am still confused about Carlsen's unwillingness to change his opening in spite of nearly losing before.
If Carlsen loses this match, his fans can question his strategy. It is like facing Caruana alone was not fulfilling enough. He wants to face Caruana+Stockfish+SuperComputer+TeamOfSeconds.
12...a613. Na3 I still do not understand Carlsen's ideas. He clearly played so much better, and have much more comfortable positions, when he took Caruana out of his home preparation. So why continue to go to the Lion's den and poke at the Lion? 🦁
13...a5 14. bxa5 Rxa5 15. Nc4 Carlsen is OK in this position. The problem is it is so concrete, which is not Carlsen's strength, and Caruana is clearly in his preparation. So it is like fighting with your hands tied.
15...Ra8 16. Be3 Now I expect 16...f5 is expected 17. a5 f4 18. Bb6 Qe8 += Caruana is slightly better.
We saw the same kind of stubborness from Kasparov, one of the greatest players ever, against Kramnik's Berlin. It did not work out so well. So I am really confused about what Carlsen is trying to prove?
16...f5 17. a5 f4 Just as expected. Now the Bishop will go to b6.
If Carlsen wins this match, I have to say that he is one brave "hombre" for his willingness (or stubborness) to take Caruana's deep home preparation head on without fear! So he is either really brave or really crazy! We will see in the next 3 games! 🤣
18 Bb6 Qe8 is the only logical move. 18...Nxb6 is not as good. 🤣
Some players, like me, prefer to go around the brick wall in front of them, while others, like Carlsen, like to punch a hole through it. Power to him! That is why most guys do not have long nails :)
One of the drawbacks for Caruana is because he is so well prepared, and covered so many lines, it is hard to remember everything. This is why sometimes you see a long pause to try to recall the analysis. 🤔♟️This happens to all GMs from time to time. Hard to remember everything!
19 Ra3 This is so unexpected! Now Carlsen can try 19...Qg6 followed by Nf6 threatening e4 then Kingside attack!
19...Qg6 Carlsen is cautiously playing this move. He is thinking to himself what is the trick? Why is Caruana allowing me counter-attacking opportunity?
Well, the plan for Carlsen is pretty clear. The idea is Nf6, e4, and trying to do something on the Kingside. I am not sure what is Caruana's plan with 19. Ra3, especially when there are no square for the Rook in the Kingside. That was a curious move for me. I guess we just have to sit back and see.
20 Bc7 There is a very interesting idea which may prove to be problematic for Caruana! 20...b5! 21. axb6 Rxa3 22. Nxa3 Nc5 Black will have a very strong attack with Bh3 coming!
If Carlsen plays 20...b5 and win, it may go down as one of the bravest and most daring moves in World Championship history. But if it does not work, he will have to move from Norway to Sweden or something.
20...e4 This is good too. I guess Carlsen is not as crazy as me.
21 Kh1 This is a very important move, to get the King away from the potential pin on the g file.
Sorry for my sense of humor! Sometimes my Hungarian humor is hard to understand! :)
21...b5 Now if 22. Nb6 Nxb6 23. Bxb6 b4 24. Rb3 Bf6 and we have a very dynamic game.
I still think 20...b5 would be a bit stronger because the White King would still be on g1 with the potential pin threat of the g file. But one move later is still better than sitting and waiting.
If 22. axb6? then Rxa3 23. Nxa3 f3! And Black is cruising along and a big ooops for white!
So I think 22. Nb6 is the only decent option for Caruana here.
22. Nb6 Nxb6 23. Bxb6 Now 23...b4 24. Rb3 Bf6 as I pointed out earlier will give Carlsen excellent play.
Oh oh! Carlsen blundered! 23...Qg5 giving up the b5 pawn is too premature and it does not work. White can simply take it, followed by Re1 to clear the f1 square for the Bishop to retreat to defend g2 pawn. Black has nothing. Oooops!
All Norwegian fans are praying that Caruana will not take the bluff and not play Bxb5! 🤔♟️
I can understand Caruana's cautiousness before taking. He does not know if Carlsen has something up his sleeves or not. It does look scary with the Kingside attack, but a pawn is a pawn. It is NOT over as Black still has plenty of play left. Maybe too scary for Caruana to take?🤔
Caruana took the bluff and not take on b5**. 24. g3**
So now we know that Carlsen is also a poker master, since he publicly said he likes playing poker with his friends!
This is the most crucial game so far for both players. It can go either way, and a loss by either may be very costly. The biggest problem for both Carlsen and Caruana is the clock in a very complicated position. So we may see things decided by time pressure! ♟️Hang on to your seats!
Carlsen should not allow Bxb5 again. So b4 is important!
24...b4 I want to differentiate the merit of the position versus the practical aspect of the position. While technically White "may" be OK, in reality, it is very difficult to play as white because of the strong Kingside attack. Because of this, Carlsen may have better chances.
But of course with little time, either player can make horrific blunders. So very far from finality! Very exciting for the fans though! 👏
I did not like 24. g3 at all. It creates all sorts of problems for Caruana. It allows multiple threats such as f3 and Bh3. Black eventually can bring the Rook to f6 then h6. Too many problems! Too hard to fend off everything!
This is why I tried to explain and many fans simply refuse to believe. When players are in immense pressure, they start to see things that are not there. Nerves can play tricks in humans' minds. If Caruana is playing a 2000 player, he would not hesitate to capture on b5.
25 Rb3 Bh3 26. Rg1 f3 White is still OK, but it does look scary. Caruana is defending very well so far. He is one tough cookie! 😆
27 Bf1 So now if 27...Bxf1 28. Qxf1 Qxd5 29. Rxb4 White has a passed a pawn, but Black has a lot of pressure on the King. Likely holdable for white providing no more mistakes.
27...Bxf1 28. Qxf1 Qxd5 29. Rxb4 Now Black wants to put his Queen on e6 to keep the Qh3 threat going while clearing the square for d5. Even the position is somewhat equal, I still prefer Black, easier to play, especially with limited time.
29...Qe6 30. Rb5 Here is the deal. Black should try to trade Bishops but keep other pieces on. That would make it more difficult for Caruana because of the King on h1 and g2 mate threat.
This is where strong understanding of the position is important. Black wants to trade Bishops and keep everything else on the board. Let's see if Carlsen would do the same.
30...Bd8 31. Qe1 Bxb6 32. axb6 Rab8 33.Qe3 Again, technically speaking, the position is equal. But for humans, it is easier to play Black, much less dangerous.
With the Bishop on the board, white can control the g1-a7 diagonal, harder for black to attack, potentially with d4, e4, e3 at some points.
33...Qc4 34. Rb2 Rb7 This game will probably end in a draw. But it is a surprisingly comfortable game for Carlsen after the near disaster in game 8.
35 Rd1 Qe2 Caruana is still fine but he has to remain patient and accurate.
36. Re1 Qxe3 37. Rxe3 d5 This is a very important few moves for Caruana before making the time control. He is not out of the woods yet. He needs h4 to avoid back rank problem. There are a still a few danger left 🤣
38 h4 Of course Caruana found it. He is not #2 in the world for no reason. This is why this match has 9 draws so far. These guys are good!
38...Rc8 39. Ra3 Kf7 40. Kh2 Ke6 Both sides made time control.
41 g4 The game will still likely head to a draw.
41...Rc6 and now it is important for white to defend with 42. Ra6 and not Rb3.
42 Ra6 And Caruana found it again. Very strong defender!
42...Ke5 43. Kg3 The White King needs to be active. White cannot allow Black to roam free without any consequence.
43...h6 44. h5 One option for Carlsen is to play g5 to try to block the White King in.
So here is the news. The position is objectively equal. But Black is the one pushing, and White is under pressure to be extremely accurate, The White King lacks mobility. The compensation is white has pawn on b6.
44...Kd4? I can't believe this. Did he lose patience again? Kd4 does nothing but create problems for himself. This is a complete gamble and he better hopes that it will not backfire.
And of course Caruana found it 45. Rb5 and now Carlsen needs to sac a pawn hoping to hold 45... e3 46. Ra4+ Ke5 47. fxe3 Rbxb6 48. Rxb6 Rxb6 49. Kxf3 This is simply an unforced error on Carlsen's part.
I am sure now Carlsen realizes that he is in deep trouble. And he has to be so accurate hoping to hold. This is what happens when you have a player in bad form.
Carlsen now has 3 huge problems: 1) His position is bad 2) Caruana smells blood 3) The clock is his enemy. He has to try to put out the fire he created himself for no reason.
Many fans also questioned Carlsen's strategy of spending so much energy on rest days for soccer. Caruana is younger than him. He is fit. He is hungry. We will see if Carlsen is correct with his game plan or not. We will see! ⚽️♟️
45... Rd6 46. Ra4+ Ke5 47. Rab4 Ke6 White can play c4 and after a series of trades, white will end up with a pawn up R + 3 Ps vs R + 2 Ps on the Kingside.
48. c4 dxc4 49. Rxc4 Rdxb6 50. Rxe4+ Kf7 51. Rf5+ Rf6 52. Rxf6+ Kxf6 53. Kxf3 Kf7 As I predicted, it will be 3 vs 2 on the Kingside. Carlsen found the best way to hold.
54 Kg3 and Caruana offered a draw pawn up. He will not bother testing Carlsen's endgame skill.