Here we go! The first surprise of the day: Carlsen, who is marshaling the white pieces, is wearing a black suit jacket after thus far having corresponded the color to the pieces he’s been playing. And the second: Carlsen opens with 1. e4 and Nepomniachtchi plays into another Petrov (1. … e5 2. Nf3 Nf6). Does the Russian challenger’s decision to play this solid, drawish opening amount to a white flag of surrender?
There was a spot of controversy shortly before Nepomniachtchi’s collapse yesterday. Carlsen touched his knight on his 18th move before playing 18. … h6 in apparent violation of the touch-move rule.
The champion was not pleased when a Norwegian journalist brought it up at the post-game presser, saying any violation was in letter and not in spirit. “Not this again,” he said. “This happens in every single world championship match. Clearly some pieces are adjusted and it’s with no intent to move. Do better.”
A quick refresher on the format for this world championship match. It will consist of 14 classical games with each player awarded one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. Whoever reaches seven and a half points first will be declared the champion. (Carlsen leads 6-3 over Nepomniachtchi after Tuesday’s third win.)
The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. Players cannot agree to a draw before black’s 40th move.
If the match is tied after 14 games, tie-breaks will be played on the final day in the following order:
• Best of four rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
• If still tied, they will play up to five mini-matches of two blitz games (five minutes for each player with a three-second increment).
• If all five mini-matches are drawn, one sudden-death ‘Armageddon’ match will be played where White receives five minutes and Black receives four minutes. Both players will receive a three-second increment after the 60th move. In the case of a draw, Black will be declared the winner.
Notably, Carlsen’s second and third title defenses both came down to tiebreakers. But many believe the increased length of this year’s match (from 12 to 14 games) and the stylistic matchup at hand promises a decisive result in regulation.
Hello and welcome back for the 10th game of the World Chess Championship. The overall score in the showdown between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi is 6-3 to Carlsen after the Norwegian’s breakthrough wins in Game 6, Game 8 and Game 9.
Before yesterday, Nepomniachtchi was attempting to become only the third player in the recognised 135-year history of world championship matchplay to win after trailing by two or more points. The others were Max Euwe, who rallied from 5-2 down against Alexander Alekhine before winning 15½-14½ in 1935, and Bobby Fischer, who was down 2-0 to Boris Spassky before winning 12½-8½ in 1972.
The task is that much taller after Tuesday’s shocking turn of events: when the Russian challenger made an extraordinary blunder in the middlegame (27. c5??) that cost him a bishop and immediately pointed Carlsen towards a straightforward win in just under four hours.
“Pressure gets to everybody,” the 31-year-old Carlsen said afterwards. “As I said before, no style points awarded. I’ll take it. It was a tough game in which I was under pressure both on the board and on the clock. Just to turn it around like that was unexpected.”
For anyone just coming aboard, Carlsen, who turned 31 last week, has been at No 1 in the Fide rankings for 10 straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he dethroned Vishy Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, also 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April.
The best-of-14-games match is taking place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre with the winner earning a 60% share of the €2m ($2.26m) prize fund if the match ends in regulation (or 55% if it’s decided by tie-break games).
We’re about 40 minutes from today’s first move with Carlsen set to marshal the white pieces.