Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana have now set a dubious world record of the most draws in a World Chess Championship Match. They now have 9 Consecutive draws at the start of the World Chess Championship Match in London, 2018. This is something that has never happened before.
After the 8th game Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana had tied the record that was set by the 1995 match Garry Kasparov – Vishwanathan Anand, for the most consecutive draws to start off a world chess championship match. Now, Carlsen and Caruana risk being remembered for having more draws than anyone else to start off the match. However, as the draws increase in the match the tension is also increasing. With just 3 games to go, there will be very little time for anyone who loses a game to recover.
There was more drama off the board before Game 9, than during the game itself. Magnus Carlsen turned up for the game with a black eye, which came as a huge surprise to some fans. Carlsen was sporting a bandage during the game. Carlsen had posted a picture of himself with the simple caption, “The Match is heating up”. However, his injury had nothing to do with chess. He picked up the injury while playing soccer on the rest day. Magnus Carlsen is already known for his love of sports and keeping fit during tournaments and matches. This was no exception.
Back to Game 9, Carlsen started the game with 1. c4, which was a repeat from game four but then on move 9, he deviated with Bg5 and from then onwards the game took on a completely different character from Game Four. Carlsen had more chances in the game, but it seems a draw as the result was never really in doubt. In the press conference Carlsen conceded that the game had been a draw but he had kept on playing because there were chances of a win with inaccurate play from Black.
After the game, Carlsen was clearly not in a good mood at all during the press conference as you can see in the video below. At one point he was asked which game of the World Chess Championship so far had been his favourite and his response was a quick NO, that ended all further discussion on the matter. This press conference was in contrast to the previous conference where it was Caruana who seemed disappointed with the outcome of the game.
Unsatisfactory half-point efforts eventually lead to one-word answers in Carlsenland. The world champion is done with chatter. pic.twitter.com/9TsY910hBK
— Olimpiu G. Urcan (@olimpiuurcan) November 21, 2018
Here is a full version of the press conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsfQwPhcokA The endgame was riddled with opposite coloured bishops, but with slight chances for white, if black blundered. Carlsen pushed on in a drawn ending until it had became clear that there was no way Caruana was going to blunder. By drawing game 9 of the world championship match, there is another stat that Carlsen will not be proud of. His own drawing streak has increased to 14 games, the longest of his career so far. This is definitely not the best of times to be having such a streak.
BREAKING: G9 of #CarlsenCaruana drawn after 56 moves and 3.5 hours of play. Carlsen extends his drawing streak to 14 games, the longest in his career. 4.5 – 4.5 in the match. — Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS) November 21, 2018
There are now just 3 more games before the end of the classical part of the World Chess Championship. Who is going to crack under pressure in this match. Judging from the press conference, Carlsen was not smiling and neither was he in the mood to entertain banter or exchanges. On the other hand Caruana relaxed as usual. The pressure of this massive match does not really seem to be getting to him and he seems to have already overcome the disappointment of not winning Game 8.
Of the 3 remaining games, Caruana will have 2 whites with Carlsen having only 1 white, but who’s white would be decisive? Their teams will clearly be working overtime to try and make these last games count. Though Magnus Carlsen might be a huge favourite in a tie break, the author is fairly certain that Carlsen wants to decide this match in the classical games. He would not want to win another championship via tiebreakers. He would be a classical world champion who has won a match in rapid or blitz, which does seem rather odd.
The general sentiment before the match was that Carlsen was the favourite. He has been the top rated player for 7 years after all. Many people also believed that the longer the match went on, the odds would increase in Carlsen’s favour. Not only is Carlsen very strong in rapid and blitz but generally is a great finisher in events. When others are slowing down in tournaments, he is gaining momentum. This is something that Caruana should be wary of at the business end of this match.
But another question that should prod the hearts of readers is this…. Has Caruana prepared for the rapid and blitz without most knowing it? Caruana did produce some brilliant results against some of the best rapid players in the world at Paris, and he would be hoping those results give him the necessary boost to get the needed results.
But then, this is Magnus!
Do you believe this Match would be decided in the Classical play? Or do you think it would go into the tie breaks?
Have your say in the comments section below.
You can replay Game 9 here: