The second game of the best-of-12 match ended in a draw and the match is now tied at one point apiece for the World Champion and the challenger

The second game of the World Championship match in New York City ended in a draw and that was perhaps not a surprise. A World Championship is a marathon, not a sprint, so the early stages of the match are often a feeling-out process in which each player is unwilling to take too many chances, or to reveal too much about his pre-match preparations.  

Sergey Karjakin, the challenger from Russia, had White for the first time and opened with 1 e4, the move that Bobby Fischer, the former World Champion, once said was “best by test.” Magnus Carlsen, the defending champion from Norway, replied 1 e5. After a couple more moves, Carlsen had the chance to play the Berlin Defense, an opening that had appeared repeatedly in Carlsen’s previous two World Championship matches in 2013 and 2014.

Instead of the Berlin, which has gained a reputation for being notoriously difficult to crack, but which also often leads to draws, Carlsen continued with the classical Ruy Lopez, or Spanish, opening. Karjakin adopted one of the quieter, less ambitious systems in reply.

Though Karjakin made an attempt to take control of the center with 11 d4, Carlsen was able to ignore it.

As in Game 1, there was a fairly early trade of queens, but more pieces stayed on the board this time and by move 25, Karjakin had managed to penetrate with his rook along the a-file and to create a bit of pressure.

But as has happened so many times in the past, the World Champion defended dynamically and, with the thrust 27 c5 forced a liquidation of the remaining pawns on the queenside. A few moves later, he forced a repetition of position and the players agreed to a draw after three hours and 33 moves.

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The score in the best-of-12 match now stands at one point apiece; 6.5 points are needed to win the title. The match has a prize fund of about $1.1 million and it is being organized by World Chess by Agon Limited.

In the press conference after the game, Karjakin said that for a moment he thought that he had a small advantage, but admitted that it was a mirage.

The players now have a rest day on Sunday before the match resumes on Monday at 2 PM EST, when Carlsen will have White for the second time.

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Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of WorldChess.com. He is a FIDE master as well.