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World Chess Championship: the first game ended in a draw after 45 moves

The first game of the World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi was played today in Dubai. The game ended in a draw after 45 moves.

Photo: FIDE (Niki Riga and Eric Rosen)

The players opted for the Anti-Marshall variation in the Lopez. In the opening, Nepo had a material advantage — he was a pawn up, but Carlsen equalized by having more options on the board, and the game finished in a draw. It’s an expected outcome because both players want to get a feel for their opponent and do not want to risk early on. With 14 games instead of 12, the match looks like a maraphon than a sprint.

In the post-game press conference Carlsen said he believed that in the endgame there were no real chances to win once Nepo had opted to return the material and gain some activity for his pieces. Neither player seemed particularly pleased with the result, but both seemed satisfied.

Carlsen confessed to feeling “a bit shaky at times” and that there were things he could have done better, but a draw was a fair result. Nepomniachtchi summed up his reaction: “I feel like you feel after a draw with the white pieces. It’s quite a usual result nowadays, but still you want more.”

The players jokingly dodged efforts to get them to reveal their teams of assistants, and Ian shrugged off questions about the sense of occasion, reiterating that as soon as the game starts, his focus was just on doing what he has been doing since childhood, playing chess.

The match is best-of-14 games with a prize fund of 2 million euros, with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw is half point. The first player to reach 7.5 points will be the winner. (If the match should be tied after 14 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breaker games.) It’s two more games than in the 2018 World Championship Match.

The venue for the event is in downtown Dubai at the Dubai Expo.

The match’s sponsors include Algorand, a leading blockchain company; Kaspersky, the official cyber security partner; and PhosAgro, a giant international fertilizer group.

Games start at 4:30PM local time. You can follow the games live on World Chess.

The news will be further updated.

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 3026   1 mo   Magnus Carlsen   Main feature   Match 2021   Nepo