From Donald Duff in New York
Predicting the winner of the 2016 Fide World Chess Championships title match between the defending champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the challenger Serjey Karjakin of Russia is extremely difficult.
However predicting the outcome of the matches is getting to be relatively easy after yet another game ended in a draw.
Yesterday’s game, the seventh of a 12-match series where US1.1m is at stake, ended predictably in a draw after only 33 moves.
To Carlsen’s credit, it seems to be a result that he was hoping and playing for as his choice of defence will show as for the second game he played with the black pieces.
For today’s game eight, Carlsen who has been for most of the match the more attacking player, will have the white pieces and the choice of the first move and he almost guaranteed that the run to draw which is closing in on the record eighth for a world chess championship match is almost at and end.
“It’s quite normal that games end in a draw even when there is a fight but it is unusual that every single game has been drawn but I don’t necessarily think that it will happen from now on but we’ll see.”
Yesterday’s game at the Fulton Market Building South Street Seaport, here in Manhattan, New York was not one of the better games of the series where both players have had their moments missing variations that might have led to a morale-boosting win.
As per the match stipulations, this was the second game in succession that Karjakin had the white pieces but unlike the first three games when he played e4 with the white pieces allowing Carlsen to steer the game into the Ruy Lopez, yesterday Karajakin opted for the Queen’s Gambit playing d4 followed by c4.
However, instead of taking the gambit pawn on c4 which would have allowed white’s pawns to control the centre, Carlsen played the Slav Defence used regularly by Vladimir Kranmik, Vishy Anand and other top players by playing c6 followed by Nf6.
Later, though, he was to accept the gambit pawn by playing dxc4 on move 5 attacking white’s bishop on d3 after Karjakin had neglected playing the more aggressive c5.
The next couple of moves saw the players trying to consolidate their respective positions with white developing the knight on f1 before castling Kingside on move eight while black opted to attack the white bishop on c4 by playing b4 before fianchettoing the bishop on c8 and eventually castling Kingside on move 15.
White’s 17th move Nf6 check was to lead to a flurry of exchanges and when the smoke cleared, white was a pawn up having a rook and bishop and six pawns to black’s rook, bishop and five pawns. However, with the bishops on opposite squares a draw was the most likely result and the players duly agreed to their seventh draw in seven games after 33 moves.
Both players now have three and one half points.
Carlsen admitted afterwards that after Karjakin played Nf6 checking his King, black had no chances of winning.
“When he played Kf6 I had absolutely no chances to win after that I was obviously very happy with a draw,” he said.
Prize money of US$1.1 million is to be split 60-40 between the two players.
At the press conference afterwards both players seemed relaxed.
“The last couple of games have not been too interesting. I’m hoping for something more fighting in the next few games, we’ll see .. obviously the results of these last two games have been decent for me,” said Carlsen.
Asked if there was going to be a decisive game in the match after the many draws, Karjakin said:” No, of course not,” but Carlsen said although the last two games have not been very interesting something has happened in most of the games. Anything can still happen”
Asked if they were ready to play tiebreakers or whether one or the other was still hopeful of winning Carlsen said ”Well if the match is 6-6 then I will be ready to play tiebreak,” to which Karjakin responded with ”and the same.”
Following are the moves:-
d4 d5 c4 c6 Nc3 Nf6 e3 a6 Bd3 dxc4 Bxc4 e6 Nf3 c5 0-0 b5 Be2 Bb7 dxc5 Nc6 Nd2 Bxc5 Nde4 Nxe4 Nxe4 Be7 b3 Nb4 f3 0-0 a3 Rc8 Nf6+ Bxf6 Bxb7 Bxa1 Bxb4 Bf6 Bxf8 Qxd1 Rxd1 Rxf8 Bxa6 b4 Rc1 g6 Rc2 Ra8 Bd3 Rd8 Be2 Kf8 Kf1 Ra8 Bc4 Rc8 Ke2 Ke7 f4 h6 kf3 Rc7 g4 g5 Ke4 Rc8 draw ½ ½