There’s more to being the world champion in chess than playing great moves and controlling your nerves. After eleven successful draws against Fabiano Caruana, Magnus Carlsen chose to abandon his advantageous position in game 12 in favor of a draw offer. Why would the World Champion do so such a thing? Perhaps as Kasparov put it, “he seems to be losing his (nerves.)” Or perhaps Magnus Carlsen knows that the least dangerous path to remaining the World Chess Champion is exploiting the loopholes in FIDE’s tiebreak system.
Experience in this format has taught Magnus Carlsen to favor a cautious approach. And why wouldn’t he? If the classical portion of the match remains even after 12 games the combatants break the tie by battling in rapid play and then blitz if necessary. Magnus Carlsen classical rating (2835) is just three points better than Fabiano Caruana’s (2832.) Where as, Carlsen’s rapid rating is 2880, and his blitz rating is 2939; vs. Caruana’s rapid rating of 2789, and his blitz rating of 2767. In short, by being overly cautious in classical time controls, Magnus has a much better probability of remaining champion. One could argue that rapid and blitz games shouldn’t determine the classical chess world champion, but as long as they do, The Magnus Carlsen Doctrine of winning by not losing makes sense.