FIDE WCCM Game 6: The World Champion Escapes. Print
Wednesday, 14 November 2018 00:00

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FIDE WCCM Game 6: The World Champion Escapes.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12    Score   
 Carlsen  alt ½ ½ ½ ½  ½  ½              3
 Caruana  alt ½ ½  ½   ½ ½   ½             3

Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion, was on the ropes in Game 6 of the title match in London. But in a long endgame, Fabiano Caruana, the challenger, could find no way to break down Carlsen’s defenses and he was finally able to escape with a draw.

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The result left the match tied the halfway point at three points apiece; all six games in the contest have ended in draws.

The best-of-12 game match has a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point. The first player to reach 6.5 points is declared the winner. (If the match should be tied after 12 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breakers and the winner of the match would receive 55 percent of the prize fund).

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In Game 6, Carlsen, who is from Norway, had White and started with 1 e4. It was Carlsen’s third game with White and, in all three games, he has chosen a different opening move. Caruana, who is American, replied 1 … e5 and after Carlsen continued 2 Nf3, Caruana chose the Petroff, or Russian, Defense. That was not a surprise as Caruana had employed the defense with great success when he won the Candidates tournament in Berlin earlier this year to qualify for the title match. 

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The game continued down an obscure branch of the Petroff that Carlsen had doubtless studied carefully. Caruana demonstrated he also was well prepared as he navigated some of the intricacies with no problem.

After 15 moves, the position was symmetrical and the game seemed headed for a draw, which also was no surprise, as the Petroff has long had a reputation of being drawish. The game continued, however, partly because there is a rule in the match that games must be at least 30 moves, and also because neither player had any interest in agreeing to an early peace.

On Move 22, Carlsen made what turned out to be a small, but subtle error by positioning his light-squared bishop on a file that could be opened. Caruana was able to gain time to develop his rooks by attacking the bishop and that allowed him to take over the initiative.

Carlsen was in no immediate danger, but Caruana had nagging pressure against White’s position. By Move 34, the players had reached an endgame in which each had his bishop pair and a knight and a set of six pawns.

Just after the first time control at Move 40, Carlsen made another small error and was forced to trade one of his remaining pieces for three of Caruana’s pawns. Nominally, that is about an even trade, but, at the tail end of the sequence, Caruana was able to win another of Carlsen’s pawns.

Carlsen was clearly in trouble, but Caruana only had two pawns left and if Carlsen could trade them, the game would be a draw. The exchange of one pawn was impossible to prevent, but Carlsen could not easily get to the second. Computer evaluations showed a clear edge for Caruana.

Computers do not understand endgames very well, however. And Carlsen is one of the greatest endgame virtuoso’s in history. He found a plan that involved sacrificing his last queenside pawn to allow his king to infiltrate Caruana’s king side. Though Carlsen’s king now had almost no room to maneuver, it could support the advance of his h pawn if Caruana tried to go after Carlsen’s f pawn to clear the path for his own remaining f pawn.

For nearly 20 moves, Caruana tried to outflank Carlsen, but it was not possible. Carlsen had built a fortress. The game was drawn on Move 80, after six-and-a-half hours of play. A curious facet of the match is that Black has had equal chances or an edge in every one of the games; neither player’s strategy with White has been effective.

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FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 is also supported by PhosAgro, a leading chemical company as the Official Strategic Partner; Kaspersky Lab as the Official Cybersecurity Partner; PRYTEK as Technology Transfer Partner; S.T. Dupont as Official Writing Instrument; Isklar as the official mineral water of the Championship Match; Unibet as the Official Betting Partner.

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Game 7 is on Sunday at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.

Caruana will once again have Black. The way that the match has unfolded, that may be an advantage.

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Game 4: The Defense Holds Again

Game 4 of the World Championship on Tuesday ended as the first three had – with a draw. It was also the shortest game of the match, lasting 34 moves and three hours.

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As in Game 3, neither player made any obvious or big error. Indeed, Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, who had White, chose the English (1 c4), an opening that generally does not put much pressure on Black. After Fabiano Caruana, the American challenger, replied with 1 … e5 (essentially the Sicilian Defense with colors reversed), he had little trouble developing his pieces or establishing equal chances.

By Move 20, the queens, both sets of knights and the light-squared bishops had all been exchanged and though there was some imbalance in the pawn structure, neither player had particularly good prospects for a breakthrough. They agreed to a draw soon after.

The match now is tied at two points apiece.

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The match is best-of-12 games with a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point. The first player to reach 6.5 points will be the winner. (If the match should be tied after 12 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breaker games.)

The match is organized under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, the game’s governing body, and World Chess, the official organizer of the World Championship cycle.

The venue for the event is in central London at the College in Holborn, an historic, Victorian-style building. Fans can watch online at Worldchess.com, the official site of the championship.

The match’s sponsors include PhosAgro, a giant Russian-based international fertilizer company; Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top information security companies; S.T. Depont, a leading French luxury goods manufacturer; Prytek, a Russian venture capital company specializing in technology and financial services; and Unibet, an online gambling operator that is in more than 100 countries.

After a great deal of excitement in Game 1, which lasted 115 moves and which Caruana nearly lost, the match has settled down, with neither player having any significant winning chances in the last three games.

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That is not really a surprise.

The players in World Championship matches are always incredibly well prepared and they are also reluctant to take big risks because falling behind in such a match is very dangerous.

Carlsen and Caruana are also fairly evenly matched, judging both by their rankings, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and the difference in their ratings – three points, which is only a whisker.

As the match progresses, the tension will mount. Normally, that would favor the champion, who not only has more match experience, but also would have an advantage in the tie-breakers, as they are played at faster time controls, at which he excels and at which Caruana is not nearly as proficient.

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However, in the 2016 title match against Sergey Karjakin of Russia, it was Carlsen who cracked first as he lost his patience and overpressed in Game 8, eventually losing. He had to fight back in Game 10 to tie the match before prevailing in the tie-breakers. Has Carlsen learned from that experience? Time will tell.

Wednesday is a rest day. The match resumes with Game 5 on Thursday at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.

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Game 3: An error-free day.

After three games of the World Championship, neither player has made a dent in the other’s armor. All the games have ended in draws.

CC 1

On Monday, in Game 3, Fabiano Caruana, the American challenger, had White for the second time in the match and, for the second time, he opened with 1 e4. As he had in Game 1, Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion from Norway, replied with the Sicilian Defense (1 … c5) and Caruana again replied with the Rossolimo Variation (3 Bb5). The players repeated the same first five moves before Carlsen deviated first by moving his queen instead of his king knight.

The change was subtle and did not result in any major shift in the dynamic balance of the position. Indeed, unlike in the first game, when Caruana got into trouble, in this game he was never in any real danger. But neither was Carlsen. As the game proceeded and pieces and pawns were gradually exchanged, chances remained equal as neither player made any mistake.

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In the end, Caruana sacrificed his remaining piece, a knight, to eliminate the last pawn that Carlsen had any chance to promote to a queen. With no winning chances for either side, the players agreed to a draw after 49 moves.

The match now is tied at 1.5 points apiece.

The match is best-of-12 games with a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point. The first player to reach 6.5 points will be the winner. (If the match should be tied after 12 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breaker games.)

CC 3

The match is organized under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, the game’s governing body, and World Chess, the official organizer of the World Championship cycle.

The venue for the event is in central London at the College in Holborn, an historic, Victorian-style building. Fans can watch online at Worldchess.com, the official site of the championship.

The match’s sponsors include PhosAgro, a giant Russian-based international fertilizer company; Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top information security companies; S.T. Depont, a leading French luxury goods manufacturer; Prytek, a Russian venture capital company specializing in technology and financial services; and Unibet, an online gambling operator that is in more than 100 countries.

Though the match is only three games old, one theme has already emerged: Black is having no trouble equalizing out of the opening. (Indeed, the player with Black has, if anything, had an advantage in each game.)

In this respect, Caruana may already be a bit worried about his match strategy as he has avoided mixing things up with Carlsen on the White side of a Sicilian Defense by playing 3 d4, the most popular third move. Though the Rossolimo Variation (3 Bb5) certainly holds dangers for Black, it may be necessary for Caruana to enter the myriad complications of the main lines of the Sicilian after 3 d4 if he hopes to crack Carlsen’s defense.

Or Caruana may have to resort to a different first move altogether, such as 1 d4. His opening choice in Game 5, when he again has White will be very interesting.

CC 4

In the meantime, there is Game 4, which is Tuesday at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.

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Game 2: A Fair Result

Two games into the World Championship and neither player in the title match has managed to score a win, but both have now been under pressure.

Saturday, in Game 2, Fabiano Caruana, the American challenger, who had Black, emerged from the opening with a small but distinct advantage because the pawns of Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, were far advanced and difficult to defend. But Carlsen was able to force an endgame in which each player only had a rook and all the remaining pawns were on one side of the board, making Carlsen’s defensive task much easier.

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After the first time control and 49 moves, the players agreed to the draw.

The match is tied at a point apiece.

The best-of-12 game match has a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point. The first player to reach 6.5 points is declared the winner. (If the match should be tied after 12 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breakers and the winner of the match would receive 55 percent of the prize fund.)

The match is organized under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, the game’s governing body, and World Chess, the official organizer of the World Championship cycle.

The venue for the event is in central London at The College in Holborn, an historic, Victorian-style building. Fans can watch online at Worldchess.com, the official site of the championship.

The match’s sponsors include PhosAgro, a giant, Russian-based international fertilizer company; Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top information security companies; S.T. Dupont, a leading French luxury goods manufacturer; Prytek, a Russian venture capital company specializing in technology and financial services; and Unibet, an online gambling operator that operates in more than 100 countries.

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The opening in Game 2 was a Queen’s Gambit Declined, with Carlsen choosing to play 5 Bf4 rather than the slightly more traditional 5 Bg5. It is an opening that he has used before and with great success, so it could not have been a surprise to Caruana.

Indeed, with 6 … c5, Caruana attacked Carlsen’s center. This is a known and sharp line , but Caruana proved better prepared with Carlsen consuming much time in solving new problems. Caruana soon established an edge by breaking up Carlsen’s queen side pawns.

A series of exchanges followed that saddled Carlsen with broken pawns on the kingside and a far advanced, but weak d pawn that would inevitably fall. But the reduced material, and Carlsen’s lead in development, allowed him to avoid real trouble.

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Though Caruana had an extra pawn, he agreed to a draw after 49 moves. He probably saw no reason to try to repeat the 115-move marathon of Game 1, when Carlsen had an extra pawn and tried to squeeze out a victory in a position that offered no real hope for success.

There is a rest day on Sunday before the match resumes with Game 3 on Monday at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.

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Game 1: A Near Miss for Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion, nearly got the perfect result – a win – on Friday in Game 1 of his title match against Fabiano Caruana. But at several critical moments, Carlsen missed his best moves, allowing Caruana to eke out a draw.

Though the result was a disappointment for Carlsen, it was anything but that for fans. The game stretched 115 moves and nearly six hours before the players split the point.

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Carlsen, 27, who is from Norway, is making his third title defense, having captured the crown in 2013, when he beat Viswanathan Anand of India. Caruana, 26, who is American, is playing his first match for the title. Carlsen is ranked No. 1 in the world, while Caruana is No. 2. It is the first time since 1990, when Garry Kasparov faced Anatoly Karpov, that Nos. 1 and 2 have faced off for the undisputed title. The match, which is being held in central London at The College in Holborn, an historic, Victorian-style building, is organized under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, the game’s governing body, and World Chess, the official organizer of the World Championship cycle.

The match is being televised on Worldchess.com, the official site of the championship.

The best-of-12 game match has a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point. The first player to reach 6.5 points is declared the winner. (If the match should be tied after 12 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breakers and the winner of the match would receive 55 percent of the prize fund.)

The match’s sponsors include PhosAgro, a giant, Russian-based international fertilizer company; Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top information security companies; S.T. Dupont, a leading French luxury goods manufacturer; Prytek, a Russian venture capital company specializing in technology and financial services; and Unibet, an online gambling operator that operates in more than 100 countries.

The match has received worldwide media exposure, with articles in The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and ESPN, among others.

Carlsen and Caruana are well acquainted, having played each other at classical, or slow, time controls almost three dozen times. They know each other’s style; they have no secrets. But, in World Championship matches, where the pressure is at the highest level, every small edge counts, and so anything a player can do to surprise his opponent is significant. Other than playing psychological games, or resorting to gamesmanship, which neither Carlsen or Caruana is known to do, the only real way to surprise the opponent is with opening strategy and opening choices.

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In Round 1, the edge almost certainly went to Carlsen. Against 1 e4 by Caruana, who had White, Carlsen chose the Sicilian Defense, perhaps the most double-edged reply. It has not been a standard part of Carlsen's repertoire for some time and is a provocative choice in such a high-stakes match.

(The opening choice may also indicate that Carlsen prepared for the match with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, a noted Sicilian expert, who is a month older than Carlsen. The members of each player’s team of seconds is usually a well-guarded secret because it can tip the opponent off about the pre-match preparation.)

After Carlsen played 2… Nc6, perhaps indicating perhaps that he wanted to enter the Sveshnikov Variation, Caruana countered with 3 Bb5 -- the Rossolimo Variation, which Anand used against Boris Gelfand during their 2012 title match. Caruana’s opening choice was possibly meant to avoid the maze of complications of the Sveshnikov, but it backfired as Carlsen gradually took control.

As the first time-control approached on Move 40, Caruana's time was dwindling rapidly and his position was under pressure as Carlsen managed to open up the file in front of Caruana’s king. Caruana decided that his best chance lay in a flight of his king to the other side of the board, but, according to the various computer engines analyzing the position, that was a mistake. Carlsen could have then swung his queen to the other side of the board and picked off one or two of Caruana’s pawns. In the endgame, his queenside pawns, supported by his dark-square bishop, would have been dangerous, if not lethal. The computers evaluated Carlsen having a strategic advantage of the equivalent of about two pawns – more than enough to be decisive at this level of competition.

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But Carlsen did not see the strategy and continued to concentrate on the kingside. On his 40th move, he made a fateful decision – he exchanged his dangerous passed f pawn for Caruana’s c pawn. Though Carlsen retained an advantage, it was now minimal.

After the further exchange of Caruana’s knight for Carlsen’s bishop, as well as a pair of pawns, the players ended up in a rook-and-pawn endgame where Carlsen’s chances to win were insufficient, despite having an extra pawn. Carlsen, as is his habit, continued to press for another 60 moves before he agreed to a draw. It was one of the longest games in World Championship history, eclipsed by one of 124 moves in 1978 between Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi, and another of 122 moves between Carlsen and Anand in 2014.

Game 2 is Saturday and starts at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12    Score   
 Carlsen  alt ½                       0.5
 Caruana  alt ½                       0.5


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Opening Ceremony of FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018

The official opening ceremony of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 was held on November 8th at a prestigious red-carpet event at the iconic Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK.

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Guests from all over the world, including Woody Harrelson, Hou Yifan, Judit Polgar descended onto London for the glittering evening, hosted by British television presenter, George Lamb. Entertainment included a modern contemporary dance between two men featuring the unity and struggle of two strong characters, like in the game of chess, and a breath-taking performance by the talented Stephen Ridley – a young charismatic pianist, composer and singer.

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The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the competitors, Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Fabiano Caruana of USA. The Chief Arbiter of the Match Stepahne Escafre conducted the ceremony of the drawing of lots. Magnus Carlsen will have the black pieces in the first game. The first move of the World Chess Championship match will be played on November 9th, at 3 pm local time.

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President of FIDE, Arkady Dvorkovich, CEO of World Chess, Ilya Merenzon, as well as Vice President and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Chess Federation, CEO of PhosAgro, Andrey Guryev, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab, Aldo del Bo, CEO of S.T. Dupont, Alain Crevet joined the players on the stage.

Taking place from 9-28 November, the world’s most esteemed chess tournament consists of a 12-game Match, avidly followed and analysed by a global audience of hundreds of millions of chess fans, which will see current World Chess Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, defend his title against US challenger, Fabiano Carlsen. No player born in the United States has won or even competed for a World Championship since Bobby Fischer in 1972, so all eyes will be on the two players. Those following the games online will also be catered for; they will be able to watch the moves for free on worldchess.com/london, the official broadcasting platform. They can also sign up for a $20 premium account, giving fans access to multi-camera views, commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, the opportunity to ask questions during press conferences and more.

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The last World Championship match, held in New York, in 2016, enjoyed record-breaking coverage with the total audience for the whole event topping 1.5 billion people.

Leading partners supporting the Championship Match 2018 include:

PhosAgro, a leading chemical company as the Official Strategic Partner
Kaspersky Lab as World Chess and FIDE’s Official Cybersecurity Partner
PRYTEK as Technology Transfer Partner
S.T. Dupont as Official Writing Instrument
Isklar as the official mineral water of the Championship Match
Unibet as the Official Betting Partner
Beluga as the Official VIP Partner

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