Game 9: Carlsen escapes Sudden Death / Notes by Fabiano Caruana

11/23/2016 – Another draw, a very tense one, it's 4-5 now. Some spectators expected the game to end in Karjakin's favour, but Carlsen survived a dangerous middlegame to escape into a worse endgame which he could hold. Theme of the fight: The Archangel. A complex struggle in the middlegame climaxed when Karjakin sacrificed a bishop on move 39. Carlsen struggled to stay in the match, trailing by -2 was a real threat. Notes by Fabiano CaruanaNewsblog 2016-11-13.

World Chess Championship News - 2016-11-23

Game No. 9 - Notes by Fabiano Caruana


Nov. 24, 7.25 Hamburg / Nov. 24, 1.25 am New York: What a fight! Complaining about the many draws misses the point. In game nine the Champion had Black and was close to losing and being down 3.5-5.5 in the match with only three games to go. Not enough drama?

The spectators saw Carlsen in real danger. One of them was Teimur Radjabov:

Of course, Karjakin could have played better in the second half of the game (but for this "Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda" see Yasser Seirawan's notes to game 3) but it's easy to find improvements with an engine running. However, at the board in New York Karjakin was all alone. He was +1 ahead, had a good position, enough time. Combining optimism and caution he reaches for the title that seems to be close and ready to be grabbed. But he is still fighting against the best player on the planet.

1.40 / 7.40 pm: Draw! After more than five and a half hours of play.

1.13 / 7.13 pm: 

1.10 / 7.10 pm: Carlsen succeeded in placing his pieces quite well while Karjakin has not made any progress - a draw seems inevitable.

0.45 / 6.45 pm: Carlsen seems to be relieved, the game could have gone much worse.

0.32 / 6.32 pm: 

0.29 / 6.29 pm: According to Polgar, Magnus has to decide whether to bring his king to the queenside or leave it on the kingside. It's a long way to go, but he should draw it in the end.

0.12 / 6.12 pm: Magnus is a bit lucky that the position holds.

0.12 / 6.12 pm: 

0.02 / 6.02 pm: The 40th move have been reached. Karjakin sacrificed his light squared bishop on f7 but has a strong attack and may win his material back. A huge chance for the challenger to increase the standing on 2-0, but Carlsen may hoild with precise play.

23.52 / 5.52 pm: Karjakin takes his time on this important decision - he goes down to the five minutes mark but still shows no sign of nervousness.

23.50 / 5.50 pm: "In this game Sergey played better than Magnus" (Judit Polgar)

23.45 / 5.45 pm: Body language: Karjakin highly concentrated and bend forward, Carlsen seems to be deeply dissatisfied, almost nauseated with his position. Definitely a big moment in the match!

23.40 / 5.40 pm: 

Karjakin calculating the almost winning continuation 39.Qb3! followed by 40.Bxf7!

23.35 / 5.35 pm: Radjabov already sees it executed:

23.33 / 5.33 pm: After Carlsen's 38...Ne7 L'Ami spots a tactic:

23.31 / 5.31 pm:

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley: "Magnus clearly is the best player in the world but he is not showing it right now"

23.22 / 5.22 pm: Teymur Radjabov ascribes Karjakin decent winning chances

23.16 / 5.16 pm:

Lawrence Trent joined the commentary team: "Sergey knows that a win today is pretty much the end of the match"

23.11 / 5.11 pm: 

23.04 / 5.04 pm: Magnus took more than half of his remaining time to settle on 33...Ra8 - he now has only 13 minutes left.

22.58 / 4.58 pm:

22.48 / 4.48 pm:

Magnus makes a very concentrated impression - he feels the tide may be turned in this important phase of the game.

22.48 / 4.48 pm: "And suddenly Black is very active" - Judit Polgar sees the trend turning in Magnus' direction.

22.38 / 4.38 pm: 

Carlsen's sister makes a confident impression: Magnus will draw today, and have two wins with white then.

22.18 / 4.18 pm: Jonathan Rowson supports L'Ami's conviction.

22.13 / 4.13 pm: Erwin L'Ami sees attacking potential in Karjakin's position.

22.10 / 4.10 pm: After 29 moves Karjakin has more than one hour on the clock, Carlsen nearly 40 minutes. After Monday's epic time trouble, we will have a calmer 4th hour today.

Both players seem calm and relaxed, leaving the board frequently.

22.01 / 4.01 pm: After two hours of play, Judit Polgar starts to be pessimistic about Sergey's chances: "It's not so easy to improve white's position. I think in the last three moves, it went a bit downhill for Sergey"

21.47 / 3.47 pm: In the database we can find an encounter between two strong grandmasters which had the same pawn structure. To find these games, use the function called "Similar Structures" in ChessBase 12, ChessBase 13 or ChessBase 14.

Position after 25.Rb1 in the game Solak-Nikolic, SRB-ch 2014

21.38 / 3.38 pm: Karjakin places his rook on the very awkward square h4. "I don't like the rook on h4 at all" (Judit Polgar)

21.22 / 3.22 pm:

21.15 / 3.15 pm: After 30 minutes Carlsen settles on 23...Rfd8 - the longest period he took in this match so far. 

21.08 / 3.08 pm: 

Carlsen has been thinking for nearly half an hour after Karjakin's 23.Ra6 and still did not come up with a solution.

20.46 / 2.46 pm:

20.35 / 2.35 pm: Judit Polgar is impressed by Carlsen's 20...c4 - "It's an extremly interesting and brave idea"

20.31 / 2.31 pm: As Radjabov, Giri does not believe this concrete line serves as a winning attempt by Carlsen.

20.27 / 2.27 pm:

20.23 / 2.23 pm: Both players seem to be in their preparation, following a game between Nakamura and Kazimdzhanov from the Tromso Olympiad 2014 - there Nakamura followed it up with 20.exd6 and won after 42 moves.

20.19 / 2.19 pm: 

Carlsen goes into thought - trying to remember his preperation.

20.15 / 2.15 pm: Karjakin is familiar with this position as well - he had the position after 18.Be3 in a game against Adams in 2008. In that game, he was confronted with 18...Ra8.

20.12 / 2.12 pm: Both players follow well known paths - white is a pawn up but black has good compensation.

20.09 / 2.09 pm: Carlsen played this variation only four times in his career - the last time was in 2011 against McShane.

20.02 / 2.02 pm: Carlsen surprises with the sharp Archangelsk-System in the Spanish. We'll see how well Karjakin is prepared for this...

19.59 / 1.59 pm: 

Press Conference in New York City - Picture by Maria Emilianova

Karjakin makes a nervous impression (Judit Polgar)

19.52 / 13.52 am: Only some minutes to go until game nine starts. In the 8th game, Carlsen took far too many risks, this strategy bounced back and got him into this unknown situation. In his two matches against Anand, he never never fell behind. Karjakin enjoys the lead - he could switch back to 1.e4 today, as there is no need to be afraid of the rather drawish lines in the Marshall anymore. Or is he going for a win, as this result would be kind of a preliminary decision?

Press Conference in New York City - Picture by Maria Emilianova

18.42 / 12.02 am: 


18.41 / 12.41 am: Seventh Seal in Ninth Game

17.28 / 11.02 am: Official statement by Fide concerning the incidents after game No. 8 - without mentioning a decision about sanctions, but adding the general note "Fide regulations state that every player must attend the post game press conference, otherwise he will be penalised by a deduction of 10% of his prize money. 

16.24 / 10.02 am: This is one example of how the media reacted in Norway: "King No" is the title of this norwegian magazine. 

13.02 / 7.02 am: ChessBase India has published an insightful Q & A with Viswanathan Anand

11.36 / 05.36: "Wild Kid" also liked the annotations by Fabiano Caruana. In the comments to the Newsblog from November 22nd he writes: "A really great set of annotations by Fabiano Caruana. Not only are the lines given really illuminating, but Caruana's insights on the players' psychologies are fascinating. We are so lucky to have someone who, but for the grace of God, could easily be sitting in one of those two chairs, explaining what might be going through the players' minds. Caruana is so friendly, downhome, and accessible that it is easy to forget what a great player he is."

11.15 / 05.15: "Normally, after a lost game, Carlsen comes back twice as strong." Ian Nepomniachtchi while commentating game eight together with Judit Polgar.

11.03 / 05.03: How political is the match? Very, at least according to Barney Henderson from The Telegraph. He sees "A Battle of East vs West" and claims that "the current World Chess Championships in New York is one of the most politically-charged in decades".

10.19 Hamburg / 04.19 New York: A lot of chessplayers liked Fabiano Caruana's analysis of game eight. Some were downright enthusiastic, e.g. SurferII who said in the comments: "Caruana, best chessbase analysis ever". 

World Chess Championship News - 2016-11-22

20.30 Hamburg / 14.30 New York: How many games  do you play a day to practise?.

20.24 Hamburg / 14.24 New York: Here you can see the press conference after game 6.

15.38 / 9.38 am: Norwegian Grandmaster and author Jonathan Tisdall published a noteworthy piece after game eight in - food for thought.

13.34 / 7.34 am: According to the Spanish Sports newspaper Marca, Carlsen is threatened to be fined with 60.000 US-Dollars for not attending the press conference after the first decisive game.


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imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/23/2016 12:04
I'm a big fan of Fabi's, in every respect, and I honestly believe he'll most likely be the winner of the next Candidates Tournament. If Magnus loses this match, that might be a somewhat trickier proposition, of course, but still very much within his capabilities.
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 11/23/2016 05:14
@imdvb_8793, Agreed!
OldChStyle OldChStyle 11/23/2016 10:32
My chess littleness thinks the move 30.Bh6 offered to white more. I would like to hear what good known grandmasters think about that; Madam Polgar or Mr. Radjabov for example?
GDiVanGuard GDiVanGuard 11/23/2016 11:00
Ummm im kinda confused. Isnt white already winning after 33. Ba4?
JohnTVian JohnTVian 11/24/2016 12:32
Magnus Carlsen makes a boner move 32...Rb5 and Sergey Karjakin fails to capitalize on it by playing 33. Ba4, a huge winning move!!!!
KandiRavi KandiRavi 11/24/2016 12:57
Karjakin missed 48. Bf6 !
bro bro 11/24/2016 01:02
Carlsen's sister was right!
flachspieler flachspieler 11/24/2016 01:41
Hard fought draw. Good show by both players. Thank you!
Henrique Marinho Henrique Marinho 11/24/2016 01:49
According to Carl von Clausewitz defense is the strongest form of warfare. Kariakin is practicing this thesis in both the match (12 games) and in each game.
djinthehouse djinthehouse 11/24/2016 03:09
Am I hallucinating? During the game I was asking myself why doesn't White play 41. Rxh7+?
KingRadio KingRadio 11/24/2016 03:52
I wouldn't call 33. Ba4 a 'huge winning move'. It should lead to a draw by perpetual check.
thlai80 thlai80 11/24/2016 04:00
I think 33.Ba4 will lose out to 33. .. Qf5. Which is why Karjakin defended with 33. Qc2 to prevent Black Qf5.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/24/2016 05:17
Magnus, come on man, if you're willing to make crazy moves do it in the opening/early middlegame.

Stop trying to defeat Karjakin, you need to be playing to defeat Kramnik!!!!
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 11/24/2016 05:36
I am wondering why no tweet has come for more than 2 and half hours?
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 11/24/2016 05:36
@Nostalgac1972 , @imdvb_8793, Agreed!
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 11/24/2016 05:40
@djinthehouse you must have missed kxh7 qf7 kh bg5 ra6! which wins for black!
BAM1958 BAM1958 11/24/2016 05:41
33...Qf5 holds against 33.Ba4. Don't think there was a crusher in the complications, but 48.Bf6 forces the queens off,straightens out white's doubled pawns and creates a passer.
fons fons 11/24/2016 09:01
Very questionable decisions by Carlsen in the second half of the match (when his match strategy in the first half was working perfectly fine).

First taking insane risks when it's not needed (and paying the price).

Then playing a long theoretical line that practically leads to a forced draw (or suffering) when he needs to be able to play for the win in every game.

Other than that he's not playing worse than his opponent, so anything is still possible.
aryan7 aryan7 11/24/2016 10:19
All the best to both the great chess players!!!
Depsipeptide Depsipeptide 11/24/2016 10:54
If anyone told Magnus, 'There's three games left in the tournament, you have two Whites and need to score at least +1' I'm sure he'd say no problem! After all, Magnus often has a finishing spurt in the last rounds and he has two Whites.
But ... a match is not a tournament. Sergey is playing gritty pragmatic chess and not shown any signs of fading. Even more worrying is the trend. Magnus has not sat down to a better position since game 4. In game after game he has had to defend an inferior position with zero winning chances. This must be psychologically unsettling for someone used to being on the superior side and squeezing out wins.
Anyway, it's not over until it's over and there will be more drama for sure. Remember the K-K battle in Seville? Karpov won the second last game to go one up but then couldn't hold a draw and the match was tied.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/24/2016 02:43
"when his match strategy in the first half was working perfectly fine"

Again, I think this, actually, is the very questionable part, given that he only got any real advantage twice (games 3 and 4) and was on the other end of the same once (game 5.)
Eyes_of_Argus Eyes_of_Argus 11/24/2016 07:14
Fabi's comments are great. Magnus approach to try hard for a win in game no 9 was by far too risky. He needs to find a different strategy in game No 10 to avoid a drawish game but still to push for a win. I am curious how he will do that with white (expecting 1.d4).
johnmk johnmk 11/24/2016 08:15
I ike Caruana's annotations. But at one point he is overly critical, giving Karj's 39th move a question mark (after Sergey spent 25 minutes on the move). Other GMs who analysed the game said only that 39 Qb3 might be better but Black has pretty good chances to hold the ending where Qs come off, and he ends up with only a g-pawn against White's 3 pawns.