Karjakin And Carlsen Take Half Day With Short Draw In Game 6

Karjakin And Carlsen Take Half Day With Short Draw In Game 6

| 74 | Chess Event Coverage

Sometimes entering theoretical territory produces a beautiful game at the world championship. Other times, the at-home analysis leads to short, uneventful draws.

Today's fans paying the base ticket price essentially spent $1 per minute to see GMs Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen play their shortest game of the match. Their draw in round six lasted only 32 moves and 95 minutes.

Many New York companies allow their employees to work half days on Fridays when the weather is nice. Apparently, the players caught wind of this. All but one day in New York thus far has been sunny and temperate.

If you wanted to see a longer and more exciting Norwegian cliffhanger, you'd have been better off watching The Wave. So far, there's been no tsunami at the 2016 world championship, but at least there had been tremors in rounds three through five. Not today.

GM Sergey Karjakin pondered again how to break down the champ in a double-king-pawn game.

"It's good to get a short day," Carlsen said. "Today not much really happened." Overall, in demeanor and in word, Carlsen was quite pleased with the easy hold as Black.

"It was not my plan how it happened," Karjakin said. "Magnus played brilliantly in the game. I could not do anything."

Is all hope for chess fans gone after six consecutive draws to begin the match? It's too early to say, but you may recall that in 1995 in New York, eight opening draws led off Kasparov-Anand before the pair swapped wins. That included Kasparov's theoretical gem for the ages in the Open Spanish in round 10.

Back to today's action, where Karjakin and Carlsen entered their fourth Ruy Lopez, the same opening that has transpired for all of Karjakin's turns with White. And yet again, it was Carlsen to deviate from a previous game.

He gambited a pawn on move nine, a pawn sac in Marshall style that was used by Iranian IM Khosro Harandi to draw two strong grandmasters in the early seventies: Bruno Parma and Lubosh Kavalek. For some reason the move wasn't picked up for two decades, until in 2007 finally someone we know picked it up: none other than Carlsen's second GM Peter Heine Nielsen.

Since then, many games among top grandmasters have been played. Black typically obtains the bishop pair and White is left with some awkward knights.

While GM Magnus Carlsen was curt with the media after yesterday's game, today he didn't show it prior to the round. Asked afterward, he said he couldn't remember what popped in his head to make him smile.

Soon after, Carlsen ceded the bishop pair for a chance to develop a battery on the light squares. That set off a forcing sequence which led to the exact ending from a day ago. Each side had queen, rook, and opposite-colored bishop.

The rooks soon traded and with the bishops' potential attacking diagonals either blunted or simply empty, there was nothing left to play for.

"There was only one or two difficult moves for [Karjakin] to make," GM Sam Shankland said on the commentary.

Today's analysis by GM Robert Hess includes some insider knowledge. Hess actually helped a U.S. teammate once in the exact opening as round six. Who was the opponent? Karjakin!

"Magnus's opening preparation is really underestimated by many players and I don't know why," Karjakin said.

The match is thus tied 3-3 with those six draws. The two will invert color allocation for the second half, which means Karjakin will get another turn with White when the match resumes Sunday.

"I'm less thrilled with the match result than the result today," Carlsen said. "Today was not the day that I should be looking to do things."

Through his 27 career world-championship games, Carlsen has still never trailed in the overall score. However, in this third championship match, he is in new territory. He has never failed to gain the lead in the first leg. In 2013 he was up 4.0-2.0 by round six, and in 2014 he had a 3.5-2.5 edge. 

In each of those contests, Carlsen won in round six.

Today the players were deferential to each other and had some fun at the press conference.

Apropos of nothing, the players were asked to name their favorite Bobby Fischer game. Karjakin picked a game against GM Tigran Petrosian, but couldn't remember the setting. is fairly sure he meant this one:

Carlsen's choice was a game against IM Anthony Saidy in the U.S. championship. The two played at least seven times, but Carlsen remembered Fischer's class in the knight vs. bishop ending:

"I understand that wasn't the greatest game but it did make an impression on me, at some point. But there are too many great games to mention."

When asked by how Karjakin is comparing to GM Viswanathan Anand as a match opponent, Carlsen said, "He's good. I haven't been able to beat him yet. But that's not really news."

Apparently at least one of the players plans to make up for today's prosaic game. When asked what the plans are for tomorrow's off day, Karjakin had much bigger ideas than his usual half-day walks.

"Maybe I will take a helicopter," the challenger said.

Carlsen will remain grounded. "I am not going to go in a helicopter. It scares me," he said. "It's not easy to actually rest on the rest days. Your head is still spinning."

Peter Doggers contributed to this report.

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