World Chess Championship Game 11: Good Prep Gets Caruana Easy Draw In Petroff
The 2016 world championship contender Sergey Karjakin played the first move today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

World Chess Championship Game 11: Good Prep Gets Caruana Easy Draw In Petroff

| 102 | Chess Event Coverage

Thanks to excellent preparation, Fabiano Caruana easily neutralized Magnus Carlsen's 5.Nc3 move in the Petroff today. The shortest game of the world championship match (in time, not moves) ended in a draw, and now there's just one classical game to go. A tiebreak on Wednesday is now clearly on the horizon.

"When I play something in the opening, he plays fast, I think and it’s a draw—then that’s usually not perfect," Carlsen said today. "He’s been very well prepared so far and I haven’t gotten much, those are the cold, hard facts."

The reigning world champion has never failed to be brutally honest about his own play. He admitted that once again, he didn't get anything in what was his last chance to press as White in a classical game, and now his opponent will have one more chance to do the same.

The handshake before game 11 World Chess Championship 2018

The handshake before the game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today's game also reminded chess fans of the last match game in New York, two years ago, when Carlsen surprised the world by basically going straight for the draw, being confident in his rapid/blitz skills in the tiebreak. The difference, however, was that today it was his opponent who prevented him from playing for a win.

Carlsen's opponent from 2016, Sergey Karjakin, was in fact in the playing hall. As he and his wife happened to be in London, he had accepted the invitation to make the first move today. And he took everyone by surprise, didn't even ask Carlsen and just played 1.b4.

1.b4 Karjakin World Chess Championship 2018

Karjakin back at a world championship match... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen World Chess Championship 2018

...and playing 1.b4! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

That was a joke of course, and it worked out well. Because DGT board operator Sotiris Logothetis had already started the broadcast (coincidentally, a bit earlier than he usually does), the move was actually visible on the internet and the TV screens in the playing hall, and the effect was a good laugh among the spectators and journalists.

If Karjakin had played 1.f4, he would have followed Anish Giri's advice. It was the Dutch GM who responded very quickly to a tweet from Carlsen on the rest day.

Where did Karjakin get his motivation to play 1.b4? From two people in fact, one a former world champion! You can find out in this interview with Karjakin:

Caruana said he enjoyed seeing the Orangutan appear on the board. "But I was also happy to see Sergey," he said. "It was a bit of a surprise to see him. I didn’t know that he would be here."

Carlsen Karjakin Caruana 1.b4 World Chess Championship 2018

Everyone enjoyed this fun moment. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"Maybe that’s what I should have done," Carlsen remarked afterward, but at 3 p.m. he pushed the b-pawn back to its initial square. When the clock was started, he played 1.e4 instead, like in game six. In fact, his white games have followed the pattern 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.e4 again. 

Caruana went for his trusted Petroff, and this time Carlsen decided that the situation asked for something more than the timid 4.Nd3. He went for the absolute mainline with 5.Nc3, and in the press room one could hear a sigh of relief. We'd have a game! Well...

Carlsen game 11 World Chess Championship 2018

Back to seriousness: How to deal with Caruana's Petroff? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana played the line 5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 (7...Nc6 eventually got Caruana in trouble against Carlsen at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup) 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 like he had done twice before in his career, but instead of 9...c6 he went for 9...Nf6. That wasn't a surprise to his opponent, if only because it had been leaked in the infamous video from the Saint Louis Chess Club from last week.

And that's exactly what Carlsen said at the press conference: "The 9...Nd7-f6 line was there obviously, but he managed to surprise me nevertheless. So if that was indeed some kind of gambit, it worked well."

Somehow, Caruana's very next move 10...c5 already caught Carlsen by surprise, who spent 10 minutes on 11.Rhe1, and after the queens were traded, another 12 minutes on 15.Nh4. "I equalized without any real problems so I don’t know why he went for this line," Caruana said.

Game 11 World Chess Championship 2018

Caruana again got his preparation on the board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

That was also American's first big think, who had to decide whether the immediate 15...Ng4 or first 15...Rfe8 was the most accurate. Both GM Sam Shankland (in's Twitch show) and GM Ian Rogers (in the press room) liked his choice of the rook move, and said that he didn't see a way for White to avoid the draw anymore.

When the last rooks were traded and an opposite-colored bishop endgame appeared on the board, some photographers quickly ran to the playing hall to get a good spot. However, the game lasted almost an hour longer.

Caruana found an excellent defense that consisted of giving up one pawn to get time for the ideal pawn setup. "As long as the bishop can defend the kingside, Black is absolutely fine," GM Jon Speelman pointed out.


Here's Alex Yermolinsky's video analysis of game 11:

“There really wasn’t much," Carlsen started the press conference. "I was hoping to be able to press just a little bit. Every chess player knows the game Ljubojevic-Karpov. Karpov won like this. But obviously the drawing margin is very high."

(You can actually practice that famous endgame as a drill here on

Magnus Carlsen World Chess Championship 2018

Carlsen mentioned a Karpov classic today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"Not much really happened today," Caruana said. "I was a bit surprised by 15.Nh4"

The American GM was asked whether, before the match, he would have preferred having just one game as White for the world championship, but the answer was no. “I want to enjoy the process of it. I would feel kind of bad missing the first 11 games of the match. It’s a normal situation [I’m in now]. It’s not a bad one at all.”

Fabiano Caruana Game 11 World Chess Championship 2018

Caruana said he's not in a bad situation at all. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

About Monday's game 12, he said: "What can say? It’s going to be a tough game. At this point the tension is at its peak. If I knew what would happen I would tell you."

Carlsen noted the difference with game 12 in New York, when he had White: "Psychologically it's different obviously. We will see what happens. I would prefer to be White.”

Magnus Carlsen World Chess Championship 2018

Carlsen needs to defend one more black game before most will consider him the favorite again. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Shankland still believes Carlsen is the favorite after the draw today, even though he has Black in game 12: "It’s pretty clear that Magnus is willing to take chances with Black. But his preparation with the Sveshnikov is teetering.”

Many fans would have loved to see a decisive game by now, but among those who are enjoying the match tremendously is Wesley So, who also briefly joined's show today.

"I think this is one of the best matches in recent years, in many years," he said. "I see a lot of ideas. I know people will be really shocked to hear that!"

With just one classical game remaining, the chances are high that we'll see a playoff. Here are the regulations:

Playoff regulations

If the scores are level after the regular 12 games, four tie-break 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.

Mike Klein contributed to this report.

To follow the match, has extensive coverage, including daily reports on game days right here on You can catch all of the moves live at and watch's best-known commentators, IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess, on either or Special guests, including Hikaru Nakamura, Hou Yifan, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and more will be joining the live coverage on different days. 

In addition, GM Alex Yermolinsky will be doing round-by-round wrap-up videos, available immediately after every round on all your favorite social platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and 

The current U.S. chess champion GM Sam Shankland will provide written, in-depth analysis of each game in our news reports.

GM Yasser Seirawan will share his thoughts on the match standings and inner workings of how the players are approaching each game with videos, exclusive to members, on each rest day.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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