WCC 2018 Rd 3+4: Uninspired Chess leads to parity being maintained
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana drew rounds 3 and 4 as well. 2.0-2.0. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

WCC 2018 Rd 3+4: Uninspired Chess leads to parity being maintained

IM vinniethepooh

This is turning out to be a tit-for-tat contest. The players keep surprising each other! In particular, its been Magnus who is providing the element of shock. In every game till now, he has maintained his get-fabi-out-of-book attitude. To some extent, that hasn't worked, and we are yet to see a decisive result.

After the heavily exciting opener, where Carlsen came close to knocking over Caruana’s king, the World Chess Championship 2018 has had three rather dull games. It seems like the players are just getting started, trying to understand each other, taking their time. They need some source of inspiration!

Magnus Carlsen Fabiano Caruana

Game 3 begins! Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

Magnus once again repeated the Sicilian, to the surprise of many. It was expected to be a 'one-off'; similar to his Caro-Kann against Vishy and Trompowsky against Sergey.

But it turns out that he is probably turning it into one of his mainstay defense for this championship (Will he play it any further?). The logic why Magnus is suddenly employing the Sicilian so seriously might be that he likes Black's position in the Rossolimo lines, and that Fabiano hardly plays the Open Sicillian.

However, he got nothing like game 1 this time around, and Fabiano got a slight pull in the opening phase, but messed it up badly after a couple of innacuracies.

Magnus ponders over his move. Photo: Niki Raga/Chess24.

Then, from seemingly a position that had no risks for White to go to a slightly uncomfortable position, Caruana made the decision to exchange off all major pieces, reaching a slightly unpleasant endgame.

Of course, it turned out to be one that didn't matter, since there was simply no breakthrough for Black.

Fabiano Caruana has been much more settled after a nerve-wracking round 1. Photo: Niki Raga/Chess24

Caruana was the first to deviate today, with 6.0-0 instead of 6.h3. Then Magnus played an unusual idea, 6...Qc7!? and the players were on their own from rather early on.

In today's Rossolimo, Fabiano had other plans. This time, he decided to play on the queenside with a3-b4. Soon, he got the bishop pair back and had a pleasant position. It fizzled out though, when Caruana "had a blackout."

"Clearly after 17. Qa1, Black is nowhere near equality," Carlsen said of the planned sequence he expected of his opponent. "The black position is fairly solid but I'm not going to equalize the game anytime soon. White's going to have all the fun...I thought I was just in for a long day. Obviously a few moves later I was much happier."

It was suddenly Magnus who could have had all the fun, by shuffling his pieces around in the endgame. Caruana expected him to do that, but the champ so no point in it, and decided to call it a day quickly.

Image result for carlsen vs caruana game 3 0.5-0.5

A bit disappointing game for both the players. Time for some detailed analysis on the game now! Photo: Chess.com.

Analysis by @vinniethepooh (Oh I just realised that round 2 and round 3 had exactly the same number of moves. 48.5!!)

Magnus Carlsen Fabiano Caruana

Game 4 commences! Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

The shortest round of the match so far saw pieces being exchanged regularly, leading to a very dull draw. Magnus did again launch another 1st move surprise though, with 1.c4!? London is a good place to play the English! But the intrigue actually began way before the start of the round. You can read all about it here: https://www.chess.com/news/view/world-chess-championship-game-4-carlsens-english-nets-4th-draw-despite-release-of-caruanas-training-

In a reversed dragon, the knights were off the board, and Magnus had what can be called the tiniest of pulls.

Magnus Carlsen

Like a boss. He couldn't extract anything today, though. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

Caruana was deep into his preparation while Magnus was thinking on regular intervals. As Magnus said, "he seems to have out-prepared me with Black so far".

The players didn't have much to say about the game, it was mostly equalised throughout. Magnus said he felt he had some very small advantage, but really no any realistic winning chances.

After game one's 115 moves, not a single game has crossed the 50 mark. Tells you the story. Photo: Niki Raga/Chess24

Queens went off the board soon enough, and we reached a funny endgame. Both players had doubled pawns, but it was definitely Magnus who had the slightly more pleasant position. That didn't matter, of course, it was too tiny an advantage to crack Fabiano's defenses.

A few moves was all it took for Magnus to be convinced that Caruana is not going to do any gross blunder. The game ended after just 34 moves, and less than 3 hours of play.

Fabiano Caruana

Does that innocent face hint at the calm before the storm? Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Today is a rest day. Play resumes from tommorow, 15th November. The match has reached a very critical stage. I am expecting Fabiano to play very seriously play for the win. He has to give it his all, after all Magnus will also do when he gets a double White in rounds 6 and 7.

Talking about the openings, it will be very interesting to see if Magnus will play the Sicilian again or not? Or maybe Caruana won't push the king's pawn at all!? I can't wait for it to begin! I have a feeling that the next three games are going to be very excited. Stay tuned!

Image result for world chess championship 2018 game 4 0.5-0.5

Could the players have possibly improved upon their play in such a dull game? Time for detailed analysis on the game now! Photo: Chess.com

Analysis by @vinniethepooh

The press conference had some really exciting moments.. as usual, it was Magnus with all the funny responses!
Magnus Carlsen

There was a lot of laughter in today's press conference. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

"This particular game is not the one that gets your heart racing. There's no particular reason to be agitated after this game."- Carlsen. The quote says it all. There was no fun!

When asked if Black has become a preference in this championship, Magnus disagreed:

"That's a rash conclusion to make on a very limited sample size. But it's true that Black has been comfortable so far. There will be sterner tests."

About the video we talked about earlier, Fabiano decided not to comment (write down your conclusions, psychology masters!) while Magnus evoked laughter with his response:

"Well, I'll, well, um... I'll have a look at the video!"

When asked if there was any particular reason for the English "Defense" to occur today, Magnus:

"First of all, I think you should have a little more respect towards the English OPENING. Well, it's not the most offensive opening.. so not a 'defense' necessarily.. But there was no special significance... I am quite aware we are currently in England, the country this opening is named after! I guess that is a bit overused joke..."

Then when we asked if there was some special 'chess' significance to it,

"Well, I mean, there must have been right?"

Watch the whole press conference: