Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
The World Championship will be decided in tie-breaker games after the regulation portion of the match ended in a tie, 6-6.
And on the 12th day, they rested.
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion from Norway, and Sergey Karjakin, the Russian challenger, played a brief, dull draw in the final regulation game of their World Championship match.
The best-of-12 match, which is being held in the South Street Seaport in New York City, is now tied 6-6 and will go to a series of tie-breakers on Wednesday, Nov. 30, to decide who will be World Champion and take home 60 percent of the prize fund of about $1.1 million.
This will be the third time that tie-breaker games have been used to decide a World Championship. The first time was in 2006, when Vladimir Kramnik of Russia beat Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. The second was in 2012, when Viswanathan Anand of India, Carlsen’s predecessor as champion, beat Boris Gelfand of Israel.
Game 12 was over after only 30 moves and 35 minutes as the players blitzed out their moves, evidently content to decide the match in overtime. They had to play 30 moves to satisfy the World Chess Federation’s rules, which prohibit a draw before move 30.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Pamela Wasserstein, the chief executive of New York magazine, made the ceremonial first move for Game 12.
Carlsen had White and opened with 1 e4 and after Karjakin replied 1… e5, Carlsen steered for the same line of the Berlin Defense that had brought him so close to success in Game 3. But this time, Karjakin played more cautiously and easily neutralized Carlsen’s minute advantage as most of the pieces were rapidly traded off.
Some spectators, who thought that Carlsen might try to be a bit more ambitious in his final regulation game with White, were disappointed by the somewhat insipid play.
In the press conference afterward, Carlsen apologized to fans and said that he felt no need to risk being too aggressive. For his part, Karjakin said that he was of course satisfied to draw so easily with Black. He also said that there was some potential venom in the line that Carlsen had played, but that he had prepared for it.
Ilya Merenzon, the chief executive of Agon, the organizer of the championship, announced that, in light of the quick draw, all tickets for Game 12 would be honored for the tie-breakers on Wednesday. The games begin at 2 PM EST and can be viewed live on WorldChess.com, the official site of the match.
The tie-breaker will commence with a series of four rapid games, played at the rate of 25 minutes per player per game, with 10 seconds added after each move. If the players are still tied after the rapid games, they will then play two blitz games. If those blitz games do not produce a winner, they will play another set of two and continue that way up to a total of five sets of blitz games. If there is still no winner, Carlsen and Karjakin will play an Armageddon game in which White has five minutes and Black has four, but Black only has to draw to win the match.
In the previous two matches that were decided by tie-breakers, only the rapid games were needed.
One way or another, the World Championship will be decided Wednesday. Coincidently, it is also Carlsen’s 26th birthday and he is clearly hoping for an extra special gift.
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.
The games of elite players are scrutinized the world over, but that does not mean that those games are always the most interesting. The following game, from a relatively little-known tournament, is remarkable.