Karjakin Takes Lead in World Championship

  avd58492Photo Max Avdeev

The World Chess Championship 2016 game number 8 displayed epic fighting chess.  After seven straight draws, the challenger, Sergey Karjakin, broke the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen’s defenses.

sergeyrd8press3 Sergey Karjakin, Photo Brian C Glover

Near time control both players went under 5 minutes with 7 moves to go. Karjakin even had his clock tick down to under 10 seconds before playing move 40. Carlsen seemed to have been able to force a draw in quite a few positions but his usual ability to squeeze a win out of equal positions failed him.  Carlsen resigned on move 52, and he now trails in a World Championship match for the first time ever.

[pgn] [Event "Carlsen-Karjakin World Championship"] [Date "2016.11.21"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E14"] [WhiteElo "2853"] [BlackElo "2772"] [PlyCount "104"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Norway"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] [WhiteClock "0:17:49"] [BlackClock "0:29:57"] 1. d4 {Mirroring Karjakin's choice!} Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 {A Zukertort. As one grandmaster said, "We only had to wait a 130 years for a Zukertort."} e6 4. Bd3 {The point is that the c-pawn is still very flexible.} c5 5. b3 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Bb2 b6 8. dxc5 {Taking with the b-pawn would be a big mistake as c4! would be promptly played creating weak pawns in Black's camp.} Bxc5 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Qe2 Nbd7 11. c4 dxc4 12. Nxc4 Qe7 {Carlsen has allowed Karjakin to develop painlessly.} 13. a3 a5 14. Nd4 Rfd8 15. Rfd1 Rac8 16. Rac1 Nf8 17. Qe1 Ng6 18. Bf1 {Now White's position looks awkward. His only trumps are the week b5 square and the queenside pawn weakness.} Ng4 {A mistake as Nd2 is better but that is a computer move that humans have trouble finding.} 19. Nb5 Bc6 20. a4 Bd5 21. Bd4 Bxc4 22. Rxc4 Bxd4 23. Rdxd4 Rxc4 24. bxc4 {Strange business, but Carlsen is fighting for a win. But now the white a and c pawns are weak.} Nf6 25. Qd2 Rb8 26. g3 Ne5 27. Bg2 h6 28. f4 Ned7 29. Na7 Qa3 30. Nc6 Rf8 { Possible but leading to a drawish position is...} 31. h3 (31. Rxd7 Nxd7 32. Qxd7 Qxe3+ $13) 31... Nc5 32. Kh2 Nxa4 33. Rd8 g6 34. Qd4 Kg7 35. c5 Rxd8 36. Nxd8 Nxc5 37. Qd6 Qd3 {This move is slightly worse than Qa4! but Karjakin had very little time left.} 38. Nxe6+ fxe6 39. Qe7+ Kg8 40. Qxf6 a4 41. e4 Qd7 42. Qxg6+ Qg7 43. Qe8+ Qf8 {The best defense and now Carlsen begins to have trouble.} 44. Qc6 Qd8 45. f5 a3 46. fxe6 Kg7 {The Black king is optically weak but it is very hard to attack him.} 47. e7 Qxe7 48. Qxb6 Nd3 49. Qa5 Qc5 50. Qa6 Ne5 51. Qe6 h5 52. h4 a2 {The a pawn marches for the win.} 0-1 [/pgn]
magnusrd8a-1Photo Brian Glover

Carlsen stormed out of the press conference before it began. Karjakin obviously exhibited an incredibly pleased demeanor. He was smiling from ear to ear. But, it is clear that he is not counting out Carlsen’s chances. He stressed that this was just one game and anything can still happen in the match.

watchingpress8Audience at the press conference, Photo Brian Glover

There was also serious star power in the house Top U.S. player, Fabiano Caruana, made an appearance, again graciously mingling with chess fans. When asked about Carlsen’s opening choices Caruana said, “It’s a bit tame.” Alongside Caruana was Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a rockstar of science known for the series Cosmos. Tyson, who played the first move today said,  “I just like to watch high performance in humans.” His interest in chess started when his son started playing. He humbly commented that they stopped playing when his son started beating him 29 out of 30 games but traveling around to tournaments gave him a view into the culture of chess.

avd57647Photo Max Avdeev

Tomorrow is a rest day which will give Carlsen some time to strategize. The action will pick up again on Wednesday 11/23 with US Chess coverage from GM Cristian Chirila.