WCC 2018 Rd 12: Into the tiebreaks!
The final handshake? Nah, we are moving on. Into the tiebreaks! Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

WCC 2018 Rd 12: Into the tiebreaks!

IM vinniethepooh

Finally, the expected ended with the unexpected, and then back to the expected. Magnus outplayed Fabiano thanks to some good preparation, and as the tension was building up to the maximum height, a nervy draw offer by the Norweigan ended the match. The World Chess Championship 2018 has seen 12 draws in 12 matches.

Overconfidence or sheer nerves? Part of both. This was not the usual Magnus at all. On another day, in another tournament he would have squeezed the life out of his opponent. The regulation period has ended and we are into the tiebreaks.

His comments in the post game conference constantly make it clear that he believes a lot in his superior speed chess skills. And why will he not? Many pundits expect him to cruise through.

If he really does do that, his decision today will be confirmed genius. And if he does go on to lose the match, the decision will be reviewed as horrendous and cowardly.

Sport has always been like that. The ultimate decision is what matters. But this draw offer, in a much better position, 30 mins more on the clock?

That's clearly a sign of a man who has bad nerves. But of course that has never been the case of Magnus. So why, just why?

Caruana Carlsen Game 12 World Chess Championship 2018

From the very start of today's round, Magnus seemed content with the tiebreaks. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

Earlier in the day, as the final regulation game began, everything was at stake. The winner would take it all. An air of tension surrounded the match as it started.

And nevertheless, we got another Sicilian. And another Sveshnikov. However this time Magnus decided to go for the Ne7-Ng6 maneuver.

Caruana Carlsen Game 12 World Chess Championship 2018

Another Sicilian Sveshnikov on the board. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

Fabiano then had a repetition chance, but rejected it. Of course, it would have been a big mistake to not fight in his final game as White.

Fabiano was thinking a lot, while Magnus was blitzing out to some extent. Out of the opening, the engines liked White's position but slowly it went downhill.

A few innacuracies by the American put him on the ropes. Engines slapped his decisions, and the evaluation just kept ranging up for Magnus.

At some point, Sesse, the Norweigan supercomputer even claimed an advantage of 2 pawns. It was time to calculate.

But Magnus was in no mood. He closed the position even further, got a completely safe position and simply offered a draw. Accepted, and we are into the tiebreaks!

Fabiano Caruana Game 12 World Chess Championship 2018

Caruana was under serious pressure today. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

Afterwards, great masters expressed their opinion on Magnus' decision:

Kramnik: "As a human, as a World Champ, this is simply not allowed"

Kasparov: "In light of this shocking draw offer from Magnus in a superior position with more time, I reconsider my evaluation of him being the favorite in rapids. Tiebreaks require tremendous nerves and he seems to be losing his."

Hammer: "Extremely cowardly"

Giri: "You see Magnus when his life is on the line- he is suddenly not Magnus"

Earlier, opinions were expressed over Fabiano's position:

Aronian: "This is going to get really dirty very soon."

Nakamura: "Considering that Caruana has exhibited generally superior skills in all facets of the match (opening prep, middle game transition, endgames) it would seem a bit odd if he loses this match."

Playoff regulations

  • If the scores are level after the regular 12 games, four tiebreak games will be played. These are rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
  • If it's still equal, two blitz games will be played (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment). If it's still equal, a second pair of two blitz games will be played. If there is still no winner after five such matches, one sudden-death game will be played. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds starting from move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

Drawing of lots Caruana Carlsen Game 12 World Chess Championship 2018

 In the drawing of lots, Magnus picked up White for the first game. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

Analysis and of game 12 of WCC will be posted later in the day. Till then.. get ready for the playoffs! Today is a rest day. The tiebreaks will begin from tommorow, 28th November.

The main image in this blog and all others are taken from this article: