Carlsen-Karjakin, Game 12: Tiebreaks it is!
Magnus Carlsen will play rapid, blitz and potentially Armageddon against Sergey Karjakin to decide the 2016 World Chess Championship after the last classical game of their match ended in a damp squib. The most anticipated game of the last two years lasted barely half an hour and was artificially prolonged by the rule preventing draws before move 30. Magnus clearly believes in his speed chess skills, which he’ll get to test on his 26th birthday this Wednesday.The match in New York hasn’t always been a thriller, but the failure of either player to break clear – Karjakin came closest in Game 9 – has meant it’s remained hugely tense. Going into the final classical game we had every reason to expect something spectacular, since Magnus had the white pieces and a last chance to avert the potential lottery of tiebreaks. Fans couldn’t wait:Needless to say, both Norway and Russia were on tenterhooks. Our favourite outpouring of support for Sergey Karjakin came in the form of an adorably imperfect mannequin challenge from young students of Alexandra Kosteniuk’s chess school (the signs can be translated as “Go, Karjakin!”):It wasn’t just fans or commentators who were talking up the battle, though. Alexander Grischuk described the strategy and what we could expect:All those hopes were soon dashed on the rocks of the Berlin Defence. Magnus chose to repeat his approach in Game 3, but instead of the subtle rook retreat to e2 on move 10 it went back to the standard e1-square, and then apart from a minor move-order nuance the game hurtled its way towards a draw. Afterwards Karjakin tried to talk up how Carlsen had outplayed Kramnik in the same line in the rapid tournament in Leuven earlier this year, but it was clear that Magnus had never in his wildest dreams imagined that Sergey could fall for a similar trick in a World Championship match. Draw in 30 moves and about the same number of minutes.Peter Svidler drew the short straw and was the commentator who had to recap the game afterwards, though not before he played a Banter Blitz session! (click on the link to watch it):Peter Svidler drew the short straw and was the commentator who had to recap the game afterwards, though not before he played a Banter Blitz session! (click on the link to watch it):You can also see how our commentary team fared, with Fiona Steil-Antoni just managing to make an appearance at the end!
If we needed a scapegoat Miguel Illescas, a former second of Vladimir Kramnik, was ready to offer himself up as a co-architect of the Berlin Wall: