A quick refresher on the format. 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. (Both Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi are on two points apiece after Friday’s Game 1, Saturday’s Game 2, Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4)
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. A draw claim before then is only permitted through the arbiter, if threefold repetition occurs (as occurred in Game 4).
If the match is tied after 14 games, tie-breaks will be played on the final day (16 December) 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 fifth game of the World Chess Championship. The overall score in the showdown between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai remains level at 2-all following draws in Game 1, Game 2, Game 3 and Game 4 with 10 scheduled contests remaining.
The first three games were fighting encounters notable for Carlsen making early material sacrifices in exchange for long-term initiative, demanding extraordinary accuracy from the Russian challenger for him to emerge with a result. Yesterday? Not so much. Carlsen failed to get his teeth into Nepomniachtchi’s Petrov with the rare 18. Nh4!? and the affair fizzled out to a draw after 33 moves and 2hr 37min.
Carlsen, who failed to strike with the favored white pieces, was asked whether he felt like the peaceful result felt like a setback. “It’s OK,” he said. “I’ve started with a lot more draws than this [in the 2016 and 2018 world title matches]. When you play a forced line as today, you don’t expect to hit very often. But the idea is to hit once in a while, take your opponent by surprise, and the other times you’ve usually got to be very safe.
“Obviously I would have loved to win, would have loved to find more chances than I did, but I think overall it’s a normal result against a world-prepared opponent.”
For those of you just coming aboard, Carlsen, who turned 31 on Tuesday, 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, as happened in Carlsen’s second and third title defenses).
We’re a little more than 40 minutes from today’s first move, so not much longer now.