Chess, has a rather undeserved reputation as being dull and boring among those who are not involved in it — and after watching the 11th and penultimate game of the World Chess Championship, even I almost believed it, my dear reader.
Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin spent a few hours making moves at the board, without any real intention.
It was Karjakin’s final game as White in the match (barring tiebreaks, which have begun to look very possible) and rather disappointing as he didn’t really look to do anything with it. I am beginning to wonder (perhaps a bit later than others) if Karjakin’s tactic all long may have been to play for tiebreaks; but this would be far from sensible in my opinion. His opponent is not exactly bad at rapid chess.
Does he fancy his chances so much in a rapid situation, that he favours this over going for it with some serious prep in a classical situation? Surely not.
The game itself was a Ruy Lopez, (surprise surprise), and in all honesty, it probably lasted 13 moves or so, technically. Minor pieces left the board rapidly and from here things were very simplified and there was not much chance of tension. White certainly did not have anything to go at and this was indicated by Carlsen’s 19…d5, with absolute equal standing. Infact, White had to be careful at this point as mistakes were possible to give Black the advantage. Karjakin, however, did not err and more exchanges followed, simplifying the position even more and leaving the game dead.
The draw was evident way before the players actually shook hands and split the point, which was after the 30-move minimum stipulation in place for the match.
This leaves the match tied going into the final game, for Which Magnus Carlsen will have the White pieces. Sunday will be a rest day, an unfathomable decision by the organisers, with less people able to enjoy the event during week days than at the weekend. After the events so far in this match, I am rather reluctant to even try to imagine what could happen in the final game on Monday — but, surely the World Champion will want to assert himself and win the match without needing tiebreaks. He seems a little more like himself towards the end of the match and looks like he has regrouped himself very effectively since the early stages and the events around game eight.
I am hoping for a good game, not only for we chess fans but for the game itself!