World Ch., Game 7: The World Champion Bends, but Does Not Break
ByDYLAN LOEB McCLAINNov 20 — 11:16 PM
Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
All seven games in the match have now been drawn as neither player been able to break through.
A small miscalculation by Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion, in Game 7 of the World Championship match cost him a pawn and nearly got him into serious trouble against Sergey Karjakin, the challenger. But in the end, Karjakin’s advantage was too minimal and the players agreed to a draw after 34 moves and two hours of play.
The World Championship, which is being played in the South Street Seaport in New York City, is tied at 3.5 points apiece. The best-of-12 match has a prize fund of about $1.1 million.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Sergey Karjakin being scanned before the game.
Karjakin, who is from Russia, had White and opened with 1 d4 for the first time in the match after having played 1 e4 three times before. Carlsen, who is from Norway, replied 1 d5 and then steered the game into the Slav Defense. Carlsen equalized without difficulty and, after Karjakin played 11 Nd2, Carlsen was even able to grab the initiative.
But he erred with 16… Rc8 (16… Rb8 was better), which seemed to be a simple miscalculation. It led to a forced sequence of moves in which Karjakin won a pawn. But at the end, the players had reached an endgame in which there were opposite-colored bishops in addition to rooks and pawns and Carlsen had a pawn on b4 that effectively blocked Karjakin’s pawn majority on the queenside. After a few perfunctory moves, the players agreed to a draw.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
The actor Gbenga Akinnagbe making Sergey Karjakin's first move as White. Akinnagbe made sure that Karjakin really wanted to play 1 d4, eliciting a laugh from both players.
All seven games in the match have now been drawn. Despite the inability of either player to score a knockdown so far, enthusiasm for the match has been very high among spectators. Sunday, among the sell-out crowd were celebrities (including Bennett Miller, the two-time Academy Award nominated director; Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor, who has appeared in many movies and television series, including “The Wire,” “The Good Wife,” “24” and “The Duce”; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who is the director of the Hayden Planetarium) and noted grandmasters, including Fabiano Caruana, the player ranked No. 2 in the world; Boris Gulko, the ex-Soviet and United States Champion; and Alexander Khalifman, the former FIDE World Champion from Russia.
In the press conference afterward, Carlsen admitted, “The last two games have not been so interesting.” But he added, “Anything can still happen.”
Game 8 will be Monday, Nov 21, at 2 PM EST. The game can be viewed live on WorldChess.com, the official site of the match.
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.
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