Carlsen, Karjakin Draw Game 12; Playoffs Wednesday

Carlsen, Karjakin Draw Game 12; Playoffs Wednesday

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Nov 28, 2016, 11:35 AM |
216 | Chess Event Coverage

The big question for today's deciding game at the 2016 world chess championship was answered as soon as it was uttered.

Tied 5.5-5.5, how much would GM Magnus Carlsen push with White against GM Sergey Karjakin? Answer: Not much.

The two drew their quickest game of the match. The world championship will now be decided by the tiebreaks on Wednesday. 

Carlsen again played the quiet 5.Re1 line today. 

They repeated the same nine moves as they played in round three until Carlsen "improved" by retreating his rook all the way back to e1 instead of e2. The picayune difference didn't produce anything, and a nearly symmetrical endgame ensued.

After only 35 minutes, a handshake ended the classical chess in New York. The game ended so abruptly that Carlsen felt the need to offer contrition.

"I apologize to all the fans who may have wanted a longer game," he said at the press conference. 

Quite a few grandmasters expressed their disappointment via Twitter.

Asked by Chess.com when exactly he decided on his strategy for the 12th game, Carlsen replied, smiling: "I will tell you about that after the match!"

As a result, Carlsen will have to play chess on his 26th birthday, Wednesday. You might think he would prefer a day off to celebrate, but perhaps not.

"He likes playing chess," Carlsen second GM Peter Heine Nielsen told Chess.com. "It sounds like a nice present."

Carlsen reminded fans that he's played well in the past on his birthday, for example at the World Cup events. When asked if today's result also suggested that he has confidence that he's the favorite in the rapid playoff, he said, "That's one interpretation."

The media attention was very high again today.

In 2010, Veselin Topalov risked a lot in game 12, possibly afraid of the tiebreak, and lost the last game as White to Vishy Anand. In 2006, Topalov had played a tough battle in game 12 with Vladimir Kramnik and then went on to lose the tiebreak. Anand drew games 11 and 12 with Boris Gelfand relatively quickly in 2012 and won the tiebreak.

Were fans on site disappointed about the short game? It's hard to say since there was a noticeably smaller crowd than for any other round. The $200 charge (up from the normal $75) and the fact that tickets didn't go on sale until round 12 necessarily hurt the numbers.

During the press conference, Agon Director Ilya Merenzon said that fans holding tickets for round 12 would get into the tiebreak for free. There's also the calendar—An "extra" day off Sunday before today's single round meant today's deciding game took place on Monday. This was the subject of a fierce debate on Twitter between journalists and the match's official account.

"You don't know what to expect," Karjakin's second GM Vladimir Potkin told Chess.com. "You don't know what [Carlsen] had in mind ... Maybe he will think [the tiebreak] is a nice show for the spectators."

Merenzon speculated that this was the shortest game in world championship history, not counting forfeits of course. There was also the 11-move game in Kasparov-Kramnik, 2000 and the 10-move game of Petrosian-Botvinnik 1963. Chess.com is researching the time it took to play those games.

The players were asked about their fatigue. Carlsen said he feels OK. "The score is equal, we're playing a tiebreak, it's fun to play rapid chess so no reason not to feel good!"

Karjakin: "Of course it's not easy to play 12 games against a 2800 player but still it's not my first game here against Magnus and I knew it was not going to be easy. I was ready for this and now I'm looking forward to the rapid."

After the game, the drawing of lots took place prior to Wednesday's rapid and possible blitz tiebreak. Unlike at the opening ceremony, Carlsen drew Black.

Chief arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos shows the black pawn, from his left pocket, chosen by Carlsen.

The two will play four 25-minute plus 10-second rapid games, and if still tied, a series of two-game blitz matches at 5+3. If still tied after five couplets, the two will play an Armageddon game at five minutes to four minutes with Black getting draw odds. 

"We've played a lot of draws so the obvious color would be Black," Carlsen said about the highly-speculative final scenario. "Let's hope it won't get to an Armageddon," Karjakin said. 

He is no stranger to never-ending tiebreaks. At the 2015 World Cup, Karjakin played six non-classical playoff games against GM Peter Svidler after they reached an impasse in classical. Could 48 hours from now be more captivating?

"I don't think that it will be more exciting because we should have played 12 result games in classical chess to make it more exciting," he said when Chess.com asked about the possibility Wednesday will trump that match. "I think it's very hard to repeat what [happened] with Peter but basically we don't have this idea, we are just trying to show our best. I just want to play and not to think too much about it."

Karjakin, under the media microscope one more time.

"He won the match against Svidler at least three times!" Carlsen said.

Carlsen added that his challenger is "for sure" more difficult in matches than GM Viswanathan Anand, the man he beat in both 2013 and 2014. The champion called the Russian a "great fighter."

We also learned at the press conference that Karjakin did not know about the death of GM Mark Taimanov. Both were born in Ukraine.

"It's a very sad day," Carlsen said. "I've seen lots of his games. He contributed greatly to the development of many opening variations."

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