After ten games of the match, Magnus Carlsen was just one point away from winning the event. Ian Nepomniachtchi, the challenger, had to score 3.5 points in the remaining four games. This didn’t seem possible, but we could expect at least a big fight at the end of the match.
The eleventh game started with a new opening choice by White.
The start of the World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi was tense and entertaining. Many experts thought it was going to be the toughest challenge for the current world champion in his career. Some people even predicted he would lose the title this year.
Many people thought the match was over after Magnus’ win in the 8th game. But the Russian team came up with a few unexpected moves. First of all, Sergey Karjakin arrived in Dubai to help Ian. Sergey so far is the only person who was leading in a World Championship match against Carlsen. He is also a great fighter and his advice could make a positive impact on Nepomniachtchi.
It seemed that after a quick draw in the 7th game, both players would have time to recover and will come up with another long and interesting fight. Magnus Carlsen had the White pieces in Game 8, so the experts debated whether he will try to increase his lead or avoid any risk. In the first case, it would make sense for him to opt for the aggressive Catalan Opening again. Although taking into account that it gave Black winning chances in both of the games this opening was chosen, it was safe to assume we would see 1.e4 instead.
The sixth game of the match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi was impressive, but the competition is still far from over. It actually got even more interesting since the challenger now is obliged to find a way to shatter the champion’s positions. No more worries about 14 draw in the match.
The sixth game of the match turned out to be one of the most epic and nerve-wracking games in the history of chess. It started with Magnus Carlsen coming up with a fresh concept in the opening. Perhaps he got tired of the challenger’s good preparation and tried to get an unknown position at all costs. Nepomniachtchi also felt courageous and put a lot of pressure on the current world champion.
Ian Nepomniachtchi did quite well in the four previous games of the match. He had a slightly better position as White in the third game; he had chances to win as Black in the second game, and he gave White no chances whatsoever as Black in the fourth game. Magnus, on the other hand, seemed a little bit out of his element. In a way, it is logical: after drawing 18 games in the World Championship matches in a row, it is possible to lose confidence.
It has been 5 years since the last decisive game in the classical games of the World Championship matches – 17 draws till this day. The fourth game of the match against Ian Nepomniachtchi must have felt for Magnus Carlsen like the most symbolic moment to finally strike.
First of all, he would play as White after a rest day, which means more time for his team to prepare a worthy opening idea. Secondly, the game had to be played on Magnus’ birthday! He has had a good experience of playing on such a day: he defeated Sergey Karjakin in a tie-break match to defend his title in 2016.
The third game of the match finished in a seemingly uneventful draw, but actually, the day brought a lot of interesting things to discuss.
First of all, both of Nepomniachtchi’s central pawns happened to move forward on the first move. The guest of honor probably wanted Ian to start with 1.d4, but he brought the pawn back and started with 1.e4 instead.
If many people thought the first game of the World Championship match was interesting and exciting, the second game turned out to be a real thriller! Magnus Carlsen was determined to take the lead in the match with the White pieces, and it was interesting to see which central pawn he would start the game with. Funnily enough, both pawns went forward on move one: FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich made the first ceremonial move and played 1.e4, but once the guests of honor left the stage, Magnus brought the king’s pawn back and played 1.d4 instead. We can only guess what the challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi felt at that moment. Nevertheless, it did not confuse him.