Karjakin Applies Pressure in Fifth Draw of World Champs


World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin, Photo Brian C. Glover

New York City, the commercial center of the US bustled around the Fulton Market in expectation of Game 5 of the World Chess Championship. The match remained tied after four incredibly tense games where the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, failed to break the defenses of the challenger, Sergey Karjakin. Before the game, GM Sam Shankland, US Olympiad gold medalist said, “If he (Karjakin) gets a nice edge, until then we’ll start talking. Until, then he’s just suffering one game after another. He’s not going to defend them all forever.” The question on everyone’s mind was: Would Karjakin rebound or would his defenses break?

Karjakin with Black was up to the challenge. In contrast to the previous two games, Karjakin looked like he was much more in form today, ready to defend anything that Carlsen threw at him. In the middle of the game GM Lev Albert commented prophetically, “It certainly goes better for Karjakin because he saved two very bad games.” GM Albert thought that in contrast to popular opinion, Karjakin’s ability to save games 3 and 4 put psychological pressure on Carlsen. At the very least the rest day provided Karjakin the chance to recover from this immense pressure.

In a back and forth game 5, the players eventually agreed to a draw on move 51. This was a much shorter game than the previous two and a sign that Karjakin has rebounded. Carlsen looked visibly distraught and tired in the press conference saying, “I thought I was better and then screwed up. I was lucky not to lose.” Karjakin’s demeanor and comments seemed to be the opposite of the World Champion. When asked how worried he was about his play Karjakin replied, “I’m not worried; I’m just playing.”


World Champion Magnus Carlsen, Photo Brian C. Glover

There is less expectation for Karjakin to win the World Championship. In contrast, all of the pressure is on Carlsen as he prepares to play two Black games in a row. Stay tuned for the Game 6 action tomorrow, Friday 11/18.

Dylan J Quercia is a chess coach and author (see his previous uschess.org article here on Tips for Beginners) and will be writing about rounds five-seven of the World Chess Championship. Find out more about him at https://coachqchess.squarespace.com/


  1. In the 43rd move variation of the 2nd diagram, Karjakin can simply finish with 46…Bc4+ grabbing the queen -+ instead of Qa1?!

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