World Championship Game 5 Déjà Vu

World Championship Game 5 Déjà Vu

GM smurfo

The time difference between London and Australia is a bit of a pain for watching the World Championship match. Luckily, one of the perks of being a new dad is that I occasionally wake up outrageously early, which sometimes allows me to catch the end of the live broadcast. The position in Game 5 that greeted me this morning gave me an uncanny sense of déjà vu and I scrolled back to check out the opening.   And sure enough, my memory hadn't deceived me: Caruana played the quirky gambit 6.b4!? in the Rossolimo Sicilian.

This is a forgotten gambit from the 1960s that I strongly advocated back in 2013 when I was writing for the website I wrote a couple of articles about it, expecting it to catch on, but alas, like so much of online chess analysis, it remained dormant.  

It would therefore of course have been a great personal retribution if Caruana had won a swashbuckling World Championship victory using this line. Again, alas, it was not to be: Carlsen diffused the pressure with apparent ease and the game fizzled into the match's fifth straight draw. Annoyed, I searched through my personal notes about this line, digging through my old files from the days when I studied chess seriously (pre-baby!). It turns out that Carlsen is more or less correct in that his play should lead to a draw, though Caruana could have applied much more pressure.

My analysis stretches to an endgame on move 23 (did I really spend so much time on chess?!) when I concluded that "White has a small but durable endgame advantage". Nonetheless, I doubt we'll see Caruana repeat this line. What a shame!   If you want to check out my old analysis, which as far as I can tell is still up to date, here it is: