World Championship Tiebreak Live Updates

World Championship Tiebreak Live Updates

| 49 | Chess Event Coverage

--Live Flash Report--

GM Magnus Carlsen won the 2016 world championship over GM Sergey Karjakin by virtue of winning the last two games of the rapid playoff. The tiebreak ended 3-1 for Carlsen.

Game one was a draw.

Carlsen leaned back in his chair at the outset, only making his posture upright after White's eighth move. The two repeated their Spanish game from round 11, Karjakin's last turn with White. Carlsen then placed his elbows on the table and deviated with 9...Nb8, a move typically seen in the Breyer Defense.

Carlsen was ahead around seven minutes on the clock for most of the opening (the time control is 25+10). After 13...a5, commentator GM Judit Polgar said, "[It] shows Magnus is very optimistic."

His first think came when deciding which way to take back on e6 on move 19. After he took with the pawn, the game opened up with a series of quickly-executed trades.

It looks like GM Magnus Carlsen, a big fan of the NBA, bought himself some socks for his birthday. He turns 26 today.

The queen and minor ending was roughly level, save White's one pawn island against Black's two. But they breezed past move 30, and shortly after Polgar said Karjakin's decision to play 33. f4 instead of the super solid idea 33. e5, showed he was "going for it."

The move opened the g1-a7 diagonal, so Carlsen played his second backward move to the eighth rank by putting his bishop on d8 to form a battery and go for mate on g1. Simple enough, but Karjakin thought for about a minute and a half before responding.

Carlsen didn't push his small time advantage once the game got completely dry.

Analysis by GM Robert Hess:

Although the game produced no large chances either side, Carlsen father Henrik admitted he was still "a bit tense."'s Peter Doggers observed the players confer with their seconds after game one. Karjakin chatted with GM Vladimir Potkin while Carlsen kibitzed with GM Peter Heine Nielsen. The Dane brought his laptop with him, and since the NBA's first game doesn't tip until 7 p.m. local time, we have to assume he brought his computer to rethink some strategy!

Game two then began and they repeated round five's opening. Recall that was the third consecutive classical game Carlsen pushed an endgame advantage -- and the one in which he came closest to over-pressing.

Carlsen varied his own play in the Giuoco Piano, as he played immediately for d4 instead of gaining space with b4 as he'd done in their classical encounter.

"They don't change completely to a new system, they just improve it a little bit," Polgar said.

Speaking of birthdays...the commentators mentioned that if GM Sergey Karjakin wins the match, he will be the last world champion to be born in the Soviet Union. He was born the year prior to the official dissolution of the nation.

Karjakin began the game with his jacket off, while Carlsen's only lasted a few moves. Karjakin also drank coffee during the game for the first time in New York.

Carlsen dropped his bishop back to f1 to prevent ...Nxe4 fork tricks. The move also preserved the chances for a more complicated middlegame since the common trade resulting from ...Be6 would not follow (as it did in the first tiebreak game).

The pawns lined up with each other with near exact symmetry. If anything, Karjakin's bishops had more scope for a brief period before Carlsen caught up in development.

One big change -- this time around, Karjakin had a lesser time disadvantage.

Polgar thought Karjakin was trying to induce Carlsen to "go nuts." Eventually the champion was indeed the first to force some dynamism, as the b4 lunge that he omitted early was the catalyst.

Not exactly nutty, it instead just relegated the Russian with a fixed target on c6.

Photographers gather as the historic day commences.

"It was an excellent ploy by Magnus to do something unexpected," GM Maxim Dlugy said. Indeed, Karjakin's time deficit went from modest to severe as he burned exactly half his time -- seven minutes -- trying to handle just his 18th move.

In the end he decided to cede the bishop pair, which set off some tactics. Carlsen chose the active recapture on e3, which sacrificed a pawn in the hopes of obtaining a dangerous passer on the queenside. More than that, the sequence kept tension and forced Karjakin to continue to labor with difficult decisions.

At the crisis, the challenger made the most monumental choice of the entire match. He ridded himself of the troubling pawn, but gave away two pieces for a rook in the process.

Dlugy thought the position could be theoretically drawn with the right sequence of trades, but Karjakin had only two minutes to Carlsen's 12 to work through it. Karjakin then spent almost all of his time on a couplet of moves.

Carlsen then slowed and, after some piece relocation, didn't go for the diabolical 37. Ng5, which would have inspired only favorable tactics. Instead the Norwegian played a more practical move that won a pawn, but entered the exact ending Dlugy said he'd try to steer for as Black.

Two-bishops-and-three vs. rook-and-three: Is it a win? GM Yury Averbakh is still alive at 94, but no one had him on speed dial. The two players, now both with one minute on their clock, played it out (Karjakin was under 10 seconds many times with the nadir of four seconds).

Carlsen missed at least one clear win: 73. Be6+ and putting his bishops on f8 and f7. Karjakin's defense had never been better and a final stalemate trap sealed the draw.

Analysis by GM Robert Hess:

"I would shoot myself in Magnus's place," was Polgar's post-game summary.

Round three began with Carlsen arriving at the board looking stern. Karjakin was back to White and the two repeated the Ruy Lopez. No surprise there -- it was the 10th of the match.

"There's never been one world championship match dominated by one opening in this way," Doggers said on the commentary.

This game at least produced an imbalance in the middlegame. Black had the latent plan to expand on the kingside whenever he chose. Carlsen methodically shuttled his pieces over there, gaining his usual small advantage on the clock.

Then he replied the immediate rejoinder 22...a5 clear on the other side, causing Karjakin to eat more time. His clock ticked below five minutes while Carlsen remained at 16, the biggest disparity in the playoff.

Later Carlsen kept up the pressure with more instant responses. Just like in game two, another pawn offer came as 30...e4 was designed to achieve good knight versus bad bishop. Put another way: Carlsen wanted another shot at the "time plus torture" combo.

"This is impossible not to win!" Polgar said when all of Black's pieces lined up on g2. 

Karjakin, down to a match-low three seconds, cracked with 38. Rxc7. Carlsen took the lead 2-1.

Analysis by GM Robert Hess:

The crowd erupted in game four when Karjakin changed tack. Of course, it was out of necessity.

Against the first Sicilian, Carlsen went for a very solid setup. Karjakin took a page out of Carlsen's notebook by playing on both wings.

Eventually Karjakin fell behind on time again, but he had a bigger problem. There wasn't any useful plan for his pieces. He tried to mix things up with an exchange sac, but it wasn't enough.

Carlsen only needed to draw but won to make the final score 3-1 in the playoff.

Analysis by GM Robert Hess:

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