Daily Chess Musings Coverage of The Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi Match
The World Chess Championship 2021 is a chess match between reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) to determine the World Chess Champion. The Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi Match will be played over 14 standard games played between November 26 and December 14 in Dubai using a classical time control with 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. The first player to reach 7½ points will be the World Champion of Chess.
Nov 26 | **Game 1** ½ – ½
Game 1 of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi match was a passionately fought battle which culminated in a draw. Along the way, Magnus Carlsen used a rare line in the Ruy Lopez to instigate the loss of his center pawn in return for space and force. These imbalances left Ian Nepomniachtchi on the defensive for most of the game. With plenty of subtle tactical ideas at play and so much at stake, game 1 of the 2021 FIDE World Championship Match was truly a modern classic.
Nov 27 | **GAME 2** 1 – 1
Game 2 of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi match was a tense struggle which ended in a draw. Magnus Carlsen had white and chose an early rare move in the Catalan. However, his plan nearly backfired after the World Champion made a costly mistake. However, just when it looked like Ian Nepomniachtchi might win game 2, he also played inaccurately! Meaning the second game of the FIDE World Championship had plenty of drama and surprises.
Nov 28 | **GAME 3** 1½ – 1½
Game 3 Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen revisit the Ruy Lopez and produce a beautiful and well-constructed dance with no missteps. Their stunningly accurate game culminated in a draw after 41 moves.
Nov 29 | **Rest day**
Nov 30 | **GAME 4** 2 – 2
Game 4 of the Carlsen – Nepomniachtchi ended in yet another draw! However, the path to the split point was anything but dull. Magnus unleashed a novel approach against a sharp Petroff variation which produced serious imbalances. Nepomniachtchi was out of his preparation but managed to navigate the double-edged positions with high accuracy thus securing a hard-earned draw.
Dec 1 | **GAME 5** 2½ – 2½
Game 5 was another Ruy Lopez, another anti-Marshall, and another draw. Yet, it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park for either player. It may be that Nepomniachtchi once again had Carlsen on the defensive, but Magnus rose to the occasion and managed to get out of the minefield.
Dec 2 | **Rest day**
Dec 3 | **GAME 6** 3½ – 2½
Game 6 was the first decisive game of the 2021 World Championship game. Magnus Carlsen beat the Russian challenger grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi in a game that I can only describe as being epic.
The first time control saw Magnus and Nepomniachtchi create mega imbalances and then get so low on time that they were both literally seconds away from immediately losing. Once the first time control was reached, Magnus Carlsen had time to play brilliantly with his two rooks and a knight versus Ian Nepomniachtchi’s Queen and Bishop. Hours later Magnus Carlsen put on a masterclass in winning a rook and knight versus queen endgame. In total, game six was 136 moves long and lasted 7 hours and 45 minutes which sets the all-time record for the longest game in the history of the World Chess Championship. Because of the historic importance and lengthy nature of their epic battle, I will be breaking game 6 up into three videos. For now, please refer to my annotations in the game viewer.
Dec 4 | **GAME 7** 4 – 3
After their historic Game 6, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen played a much quieter and shorter Game 7. Nepo returned to playing the white side of the Ruy Lopez and Magnus Carlsen used the same approach in the opening that he employed in Game 5. Of particularly educational value is Magnus’ 8… Rb8 and early piece maneuvers which really seem to have taken the sting out of the 8. a4 Anti-Marshall. In fact, by move 28 it was clear that a draw was the best result Ian could achieve and thus he would not be able to even the match score up during Game 7.
Dec 5 | **GAME 8** 5 – 3
In the eighth game of their 2021 World Championship Match, Magnus Carlsen defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi again taking a two-point lead in the match score. Carlsen had white and Nepomniachtchi returned to the Russian Game. This time, however, Magnus used the 3. d4 line to reach a completely symmetrical position against Nepo after 8 moves. Still a point down in the match, Ian gambled a bit with 9…. h5 and Carlsen punished his risky play by playing for the win. After a couple of dubious moves by Nepo, Magnus Carlsen used perfect technique to win a queen and pawn endgame. Now at a two-point deficit against Magnus Carlsen, the door is quickly closing on Ian Nepomniachtchi’s bid to become the World Chess Champion.
Dec 6 | **Rest day**
Dec 7 | **GAME 9** 6-3
Ian Nepomniachtchi showed up to Game 9 with a new look (haircut) and a new opening look (1. c4) for this match. However, it was Magnus Carlsen that won the 9th game by capitalizing on Ian Nepomniachtchi’s major error on the 27th move. With just five games left in the World Championship Match and ahead by three points, Magnus Carlsen is almost certain to retain his title.
Dec 8 | **GAME 10** 6½ – 3½
Game 10 of the 2021 World Chess Championship again saw Carlsen begin the round with 1. e4 and again saw Ian Nepomniachtchi opt for Petroff’s Defense. This time, Magnus played the 4. d3 line which Nepomniachtchi handled with no problems. Nepo must be relieved to return to form while Carlsen seemed content with the half point as now he just needs two more draws to win the 2021 FIDE World Championship Match.
Dec 9 | **Rest day**
Dec 10 | **GAME 11** 7½ – 3½
In Game 11, Magnus Carlsen scored his fourth victory of the match and in doing so, secured the overall victory with three games to go. Ian Nepomniachtchi played the white side of the Italian Game but blundered on his twenty-third move forcing the World Champion to find the best response or risk losing the game himself. Magnus Carlsen spent just 79 seconds finding 23… dxe3 to take a winning advantage. Twenty-six moves later, Ian Nepomniachtchi resigned the game which gave Magnus the 7.5 match points needed to retain the title of World Champion.
Dec 12 | **Closing ceremony**
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