World Chess Championship Game 4: Draw Again Despite Release Of Caruana's Training Notes
Thanks to a few scenes of a training camp video, the intrigue for round four began well before the first move. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

World Chess Championship Game 4: Draw Again Despite Release Of Caruana's Training Notes

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Nov 13, 2018, 12:08 PM |
112 | Chess Event Coverage

Today's round-four clash at the 2018 world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana ended in the shortest draw of the bunch, at less than three hours. The match is tied 2.0-2.0 after Carlsen's English Opening went nowhere, but the intrigue actually began around 6 a.m. local time.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen's suit change didn't change the result today. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Likely before either player arose (Carlsen famously wakes quite late, often not even in the a.m. hours), a video was posted online for the "Today in Chess" program produced by the Saint Louis Chess Club. Caruana is seen hanging out at Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield's farm estate on the Osage River in in central Missouri. He played basketball, rode in a four-wheeler, and prepared for the match.

There was just one glaring problem: A few of the scenes clearly show opening names on a computer screen and specific variations that he was preparing for London. Most of the file names dealt with how we will defend as Black against 1. d4 or 1. e4, but today he faced 1. c4, so it was not a concern. At least not yet. 

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana was visibly more somber after the round, except for a few moments of levity like when the Jamaican Chess Federation president call the players "gladiators." | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Cristian Chirila, the only member of Team Caruana who makes public visits to the venue, would not comment to Chess.com on the video. The challenger was asked about it at the press conference, and offered the same: "I'd really rather not comment on this actually."

But what about Carlsen? Did he know about he video prior to this round?

"Well, I'll, uh, I'll have a look at the video!" he said, arousing laughter from the crowd. "Then I'll make up my mind."

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Many journalists and commentators gathered around to see what all the fuss was about. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Chess.com wanted to clarify that Carlsen intended to use the future tense, and it seems he did: "I can truthfully say that I haven't seen the video, but I am aware of its existence." He also was correctly informed that it has been removed from YouTube.

The video's contents are seemingly such a blunder that it left some wondering if it could be a plant or a hoax to throw off the champion. In the end, most agreed that this was almost certainly not the case. Chirila's tone with Chess.com was dour, and these aren't the kind of machinations Caruana is known for.

"This was so much detail and in-depth information on an opening he has already used in the world championship match," Jon Ludvig Hammer said on Norwegian television station VG. "It is obvious that this is relevant."

He was likely referring to the specificity of the screenshot showing lines like 10...Re8, like in Caruana's round two game (he actually played 10...Rd8, but the screenshot showed he had been prepping that opening).

Magnus Carlsen

Will the champion watch the video? | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

This seems one area where experience prevailed. Carlsen, a veteran of three previous world championship matches, also released a video this week about one of his training camps, but most of the chess positions and grandmaster helpers were blurred.

But cheer up Fabi! At least someone understands your plight and is rooting for you to do what he couldn't:

Carlsen began the day today with three turns with White in next four rounds, so if the revelation will be felt, it may come rather quickly. For team Caruana, should it wish to modify some of its plans due to the accidental leak, at least it has more than 48 hours to do so since tomorrow is a rest day and Caruana takes White after that. Not until round six will a diversion be needed.

Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen couldn't turn that frown upside down today. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Chess.com has made the editorial decision to not show the video, but here's the most revealing scene, since various versions of this have been widely circulated online:

As for the actual over-the-board stuff, Carlsen played the English, but insisted that any linkage between the choice and the soil it was played on was an overused joke.

"There was no special significance," he said. When asked on follow-up if there was instead a "chess reason" for the opening, Carlsen answered the obvious with the obvious, "Well, there must have been, right?"

Magnus Carlsen Fabiano Caruana

All the handshakes have been "peaceful" thus far in London. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

The Norwegian repeated a line that Wesley So used against Caruana at this year's Grand Chess Tour Paris Blitz event. Caruana said that game wasn't "significant" and he'd "long forgotten about it."

When the American played 4...d5, the champ raised a furtive eyebrow, but then continued with So's play until move 11. Instead of developing his queen's rook to the half-open file, he went for the provocative 11. b4. Caruana didn't bat an eyelash and retreated to d6 right away, even though 11...Bb6 was just as viable. So if there's any preparation issues, they certainly didn't manifest today.

"He seems to have out-prepared me so far as Black," Carlsen said.

Sam Shankland

"This particular game is not the one that gets your heart racing," Carlsen said. "There's no particular reason to be agitated after this game."

There's no chess tomorrow, as the players have their second rest day, so Chess.com ran some simulations on what might happen in the remaining two-thirds of the match:

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Both the likelihood of winning outright and entering a playoff crept up slightly for the challenger after drawing as black today. | Image: SmarterChess.

And what about the now-daily question about the black pieces suddenly being for preference in this match?

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

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The match viewing area full today at the start. One veteran of previous world championship matches held in London referred to the venue as similar to Lubyanka Building in Moscow. On the photo you might recognize Grenke organizer Sven Noppes (down left) and GM Paul van der Sterren (middle, glasses). | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

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The dreaded 30-minute time slots returned, even for media. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

To follow the match, Chess.com has extensive coverage, including daily reports on game days right here on Chess.com/news. You can catch all of the moves live at Chess.com/wcc2018 and watch Chess.com's best-known commentators, IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess, on either Twitch.tv/Chess or Chess.com/TV. 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 Chess.com). 

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 Chess.com members, on each rest day. 


Previous reports:

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