Game 10 of the World Chess Championship, saw Magnus Carlsen level the scores, by finally winning a game. The defending Champion really had to do something in this game, he trailed his challenger, Sergey Karjakin, by a point and with only two games after this one, was running out of time.
Carlsen had the White pieces in game 10, and made the most of them as had been expected. The players took a rare line in the Berlin Defence, and this resulted in a good advantage for the Champion. This is no strange thing in the Berlin, an opening in which White often obtains the best of things, without them producing a decisive result.
Sergey Karjakin had frustrated his opponent in a couple of previous games, by having the worse stance but constructing a fortress to prevent Carlsen from making progress. In those instances, however, pressure tended to be concentrated and much of the board resolved, but in this game, Carlsen had threats coming from right, left and centre. Once again, Karjakin went to work, his King travelled from Kingside to Queenside, and his rooks and knight held White at bay on the Kingside. The players shuffled about, with Black having nothing to do but wait for White to try something and White hoping for a mistake.
This came with Karjakin’s 56…Rhh7? (…Nh6 seems ok) Which allowed Carlsen’s 57.b5! and from here White was sitting pretty. Magnus Carlsen proceeded to show the justification in his reputation, and hardly put a foot wrong from this point. It was a near textbook display, against which Karjakin found himself with no resistance to offer. He was resigning the game soon after, and his lead in the match was gone.
With the scores at 5-5, there are two games remaining in the match before tiebreak games come into play. Sergey Karjakin has the White pieces in game 11, and my feeling is that if he wants to be World Champion, he should come out and try to do something with them. His tactic of resistance and containment has been effective in the match, and obviously frustrated his opponent somewhat. The momentum was definitely with him at times, especially after game 8 of course. However, the momentum has shifted, and Magnus Carlsen has regained his bite and seems to have some of his mojo back. I don’t think quietness is the way to go anymore, Karjakin has to take a risk and seek sharp play or he could end up having a very bad end to the match.
The players have a rest day before the match continues, and this should be plenty of time to recharge the batteries and do some final preparation. When they come out on Saturday 26th November, for the penultimate classical game in this match, let’s hope they are fresh, ambitious, and with their eyes set on the World Chess crown.