Magnus Carlsen won a very nice game against Levon Aronian on the white side of a Ragozin a couple of years ago, and in a vlog sometime later suggested a better plan for Black. The idea was already known, but became the way for Black to handle the position. As we'll see in my column this week, it's even possible for White to get in trouble in this seemingly ultra-safe system.
Entries in Magnus Carlsen (227)
And did so on tiebreaks over Magnus Carlsen, too! As in the 2015 championship both players were dominant on day 1, but this time both players stayed hot to the very end, and their huge score of 16.5/21 left them two points ahead of their closest pursuers: Daniil Dubov (bronze medalist on tiebreaks), Hikaru Nakamura, and 2015 world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk.
It's noteworthy that Karjakin won their head-to-head game, and it's also interesting that Vassily Ivanchuk defeated Carlsen yet again, though he finished out of the running for medals and couldn't back up his earlier win in the rapid championship.
There's a nice report on day two of the event here, and I'll close with a couple (or maybe four) bits of information: Anna Muzychuk won both the rapid and the blitz events in the concurrent ladies' event(s), and the 2017 World Rapid and Blitz titles are to be contested in July, in Munich, Germany.
Magnus Carlsen finished in style with a beautiful queen sac, putting away the very game challenger to win the playoff 3-1 and the match overall by a 9-7 score. Sergey Karjakin had to take extra chances to try to win with Black, and while it backfired it was the right strategy. (The game, with my notes, is here.)
Congratulations to Carlsen on the win and Karjakin for making a tremendous fight of it. He had his chances in the match, and if he had spotted his opportunities in games 9 and 10 he would almost certainly have been the champion. But Carlsen missed opportunities too, and in the end his dominance in the rapid portion made him the deserved winner of the match.
Psychological advantage or not, Sergey Karjakin didn't make enough good moves in game 15 to keep the balance (or take the lead). It was another Ruy, but this one took a sharp turn early on. Karjakin chose the wrong plan with 18.Ne4 and 20.f3. He got a bit of a reprieve when Carlsen played 29...Bxf6 rather than 29...gxf6, when Black would add the g-file to his attacking assets. Still, his position remained difficult after 30...e4, and as usual he was very short of time. His 36.Qe1 was the losing move, practically speaking, as the way to hold equality on move 37 was impossible without a computer's help. He didn't find the right move there, and his 38th move was an outright blunder, losing on the spot.
So Karjakin must win the last game with Black to keep the match going; not likely, but if anything is clear about him it's that he is a great fighter.
The game, with my analysis, is here.
Wow. Sergey Karjakin was lost on the board and had a colossal disadvantage on the clock, and still Magnus Carlsen couldn't win. A fantastic draw by Karjakin to keep the scores level. Quick analysis, here.
Sergey Karjakin had White, it was another Ruy Lopez, and it was another draw. Here's the game, with notes.
Right here. (HT: Ervin M.) Two quick remarks, in passing. First, it would be nice if chess writers would take a pass on remarks like this:
The live event has an atmosphere unlike any other sport contest, because almost all of the spectators divide their attention between the game and computers — in their phones or on the video monitors around the venue — that could beat the two players. Only Mr. Carlsen and Mr. Karjakin rely on unaugmented human intelligence.
Yes, well...it has been almost 20 years since Deeper Blue beat Kasparov, so can we stop pretending that the superiority of chess engines is either new or interesting? Also, neither Carlsen nor Karjakin is relying on "unaugmented human intelligence" for the first 15-20 moves (give or take). In fact, their reliance on technology at that point in the game is far deeper than that of any of the spectators. Still further, spectators benefit from technology in other games and sports too: in poker viewers are treated to objective probabilities, while in baseball fans (and managers) can drown in a sea of statistics. The way that information interacts with the participants is different in all these events, but chess is not an outlier when it comes to the influence of computer-based information and assistance.
Second, the piece closes with a strange quotation from Carlsen about the tiebreak: “I think it’s 50-50. Either I win or he wins.” Perhaps he was just being a little careless in his speech by equating two possible outcomes with a figure that suggests that the outcomes were equally likely, but if not it's either a little bit of gamesmanship or a compliment to Karjakin. With Karjakin having played so effectively thus far, it's probably more of the latter than the former, though I still believe that Carlsen in his heart of hearts thinks he's the favorite.
It isn't clear how hard Magnus Carlsen was going to try for a win today, but he achieved absolutely nothing in the opening - a Berlin - and he and Sergey Karjakin drew very quickly and without a shred of difficulty. Almost all the pieces came off, they made it to the minimum number of moves required - 30 - and called it a draw. (The thriller can be replayed here.)
So on Wednesday it will be time for a playoff: a best of four rapid games, followed by increasingly fast time controls, if necessary.
Today's game was short but well-played and full of content, and for the ninth time in the match a draw. Once again the game was a Ruy, and once again Sergey Karjakin failed to achieve anything substantive with the white pieces. With 17...c4 Magnus Carlsen showed that he wanted more than the slightly less active side of an equal position, and with 19...d5! gave Karjakin some problems to solve. And he did: he successfully navigated all the tactics, and in the end the perpetual check was forced for both sides.
Tomorrow is another rest day, and on Monday the classical portion of the match comes to an end with game 12; Carlsen will have white. If either player wins it, he wins the match; if not, there's another rest day followed by rapid (and if necessary, blitz) tiebreaks to determine the champion. In the meantime, my analysis of game 11 is here.