Game 12 draw / Showdown on Wednesday / Notes by Yasser Seirawan

11/28/2016 – Game 12 ended in a short draw - we will witness tiebreaks on Wednesday. Carlsen's 26th birthday. Carlsen chose to avoid a fight and settled for a quick draw by playing one of the most solid variations against the Berlin Defence. Karjakin also seemed to be happy with the draw. Maybe the press conference after the game was harder than the game itself. Yasser Seirawan shows mixed emotions. Newsblog 2016-11-29...

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World Chess Championship Carlsen Karjakin, New York - Newsblog 2016-11-28

Game No 12 - Notes by Yasser Seirawan


16.15 / 10.15: Okay, game 12 was short and maybe disappointing. But it raised questions:

Routine questions...

What can you say about game 12?

Questions of self-confidence...

Do you think you are stronger on tie-break?

Questions one should perhaps not answer truthfully...

Which color would you choose for the Armageddon game?

Questions about the opponent...

What do you think about Karjakin's nervous system?

Questions about the match in general...

Is that your toughest match so far?

And questions about some particular moves...

In the game you played h3, were you also thinking of f3?

16.00 / 10.00: A lot of people were disappointed by game 12. On his website chessintweets Eric van Reem gathers tweets about the match. Here's a sample of three tweets about game 12: @reachvsara: “Frankly, it was one of the worst games ever in a worldchess championship”; @benjamin_bok: “What an anti-climax”, @willtomford: “Is anyone else enjoying Carlsen-Karjakin as a soothing, meditative thing to fall asleep to? “

14.05 / 8.05 am: Tie-breaks are played on Wednesday - we can expect up to 15 games, the last one being the famous Armageddon or Sudden-Death blitz game.


First, the players start with a match consisting of four rapid games (25 min + 10 sec/move) - Karjakin will have the white pieces in the 1st game. If the score is level after these four games, we enter the 2nd stage.


This consists of a two-game-blitz-match (5 min + 3 sec/move), which will in case of a level score be repeated for four time. So in total this could sum up to ten blitz games.


If the score is level after the 2nd stage, an Armageddon game will be played. This format guarantess a winner, as in case of a draw the player with the black pieces will be declared as the winner. In this format, white has five minutes, black only four. An increment of three secsonds is given from move 61.

13.29 / 7.29: Jonathan Tisdall reports there is an article in Norwegian media that covers Sergey Karjakin helping people who stammer to identify theirselves with a new role model: 

+ + + 13.10 Hamburg / 7.10 am New York: What the players had to say about the game (analysis) + + +

+ + + The players on the perspective to play a tiebreak Carlsen: "Having a tiebreak is an achievement in itself" + + + 

6.30 Hamburg time: Tweet by World Chess is surprisingly harsh.

20.50 / 2.50 pm: "I didn't feel today was the day to take major chances." (Magnus Carlsen)

20.45 / 2.45 pm: Tiebreaks will start on Wednesday at 2 pm and last until they are over. Magnus will have black in the first game.

20.35 / 2.35 pm: Draw agreed after 30 moves.

20.34 / 2.34 pm: 

Caruana shows himself surprised that Carlsen does not even try to capitalize his white game and goes directly for the tiebreaks.

20.28 / 2.28 pm:

Magnus Carlsen seemingly goes for a draw and the tie-breaks. (Foto: Max Avdeev)

20.28 / 2.28 pm: Simon Williams takes it with humour:

20.20 / 2.20 pm: "This game might be a very short one" - Judit Polgar

20.12 / 2.12 pm: Magnus coach Peter Heine Nielsen explains their quite careful opening choice for today's game.

"Magnus is extremely good at getting a lot from very small things"


20.08 / 2.08 pm: Magnus tries a quiet opening this time - but as we saw in game three, the possiblities to outplay Sergey in such positions are still given.


20.02 / 2.02 pm: Magnus repeats the variation from game three: 5.Re1 in the Berlin Defense.

20.00 / 2.00 pm:

1.e4 was the kickoff of the shortest game in the match (Foto: Max Avdeev)

19.14 / 1.14 pm: We eagerly look forward to game twelve, which starts in less than an hour from now. The last two World Championship matches were already decided sooner. 2013 in Chennai Carlsen won after ten games (+3), while in Sotchi 2014 the match was over after eleven games (+2). The last time we saw a 12th game was in the 2012 match between Anand and Gelfand. Its last game was drawn then and we saw a tiebreak, where Gelfand missed a lot of chances and Anand retained his title.

19.03 / 1.04 pm: Chess fever rolls over Norway: according to Norway's TV station NRK a quarter of a million people in Norway stayed up late to watch game ten on Thursday night till they saw Carlsen winning. A quarter of million, that's 7 percent of Norway's population.

18.40 / 12.40 pm: Should today's game end in draw, rapid and, if necessary, blitz tie-breaks will follow on Wednesday. If you trust the live ratings Carlsen is a slight favorite in both disciplines - but far from being a clear favorite. Not to mention that nerves might play a role - to put it mildly.

Live Ratings: Top Ten Rapid

1 Carlsen 2894.0
2 Nakamura 2839.0
3 Karjakin 2818 i
4 Nepomniachtchi 2812.0
5 Mamedyarov 2805.0
6 Dominguez Perez 2803.0
7 Anand 2802.0
8 Vachier-Lagrave 2795.0
9 Radjabov 2788 i
10 Kramnik 2778.0

Live Ratings: Top Ten Blitz

1 Ding Liren 2875.0
2 Carlsen 2873.0
3 Nakamura 2842.0
4 Nepomniachtchi 2830.0
5 Aronian 2830.0
6 Vachier-Lagrave 2823.0
7 Mamedyarov 2813.0
8 Radjabov 2800 i
9 Karjakin 2800.0
10 Caruana 2800.0

16.30 / 10.30: Game 12 is thrilling and might decide the World Championship. Another interesting question is what Carlsen wants to play with White. 1.e4 or 1.d4 are the most likely first moves but a search in the ChessBase database reveals that Carlsen in the past has also opened with moves such as 1.a4, 1.a3, 1.b3 or 1.g3. Admittedly, he mainly tried these moves in blitz games. But maybe Carlsen also opts for 1.c4 or 1.Nf3. In a few hours we will know!

11.39 Hamburg / 5.39 am New York: The last bullet today. If the game has a winner we will have a World Champion. White smoke above Pier 16. If not: the tiebreak shall decide.

Last year, in Berlin, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin playing in the Rapid- and Blitz-World Championships in Berlin , a fascinating show. Carlsen was always playing at the top but Karjakin also showed his class. And we know that he is calm under pressure. One day, Sergey Karjakin was playing bullet on when his opponent blundered in a tense situation. With with 12 seconds or less on the clock  Karjakin found the time to type "lol".

Poll: Who will win the match? And will there be a tie-break?


Game No 11 - Notes by Wesley So


16.10 Hamburg / 10.10 New York: What we all would like to know: "Who is the favorite to win this thing?"

16.02 Hamburg / 10.02 New York: "What's your main reply after 1.e4 besides e5?" And, ahem..., any novelties prepared?

12.58 Hamburg / 6.58 am New York: Press conference snippets part 1 - analysis

12.58 Hamburg / 6.58 am New York: Press conference snippets part 2 - questions

11.29 Hamburg / 5.29 am New York: Yannick Pelletier did a round up show on game 11 on Watch it here.

+ + +

World Chess Championship 2016 Newsblogs:

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calvinamari calvinamari 12/8/2016 01:06
Let's remember that it was BLACK who chose the Berlin in this game.
RodriguezSoler RodriguezSoler 12/1/2016 09:39
After the sad espectacle (or farce) of game 12, for me there has not been champion. The title of champion has been void. Nobody wanted to win, so there is no winner. The match has been tied, without fighting in the last decisive game. Especially unworthy Carlsen's attitude, who was the current champion, world nº1 by far, and played with white. The only valid justification is that he was ill, something unlikely.

We miss the time of Karpov and Kasparov, true champions of the world.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/30/2016 08:31
@ Petrosianic : Approved !!
Maatalkko Maatalkko 11/30/2016 04:07
500 words of "annotation" prior to Move 1? LOL. Trying for gonzo journalism, I suppose, but reads more like a D list celebrity grabbing the mike.
Petrosianic Petrosianic 11/29/2016 11:42

Only if your knowledge of chess history goes back no farther than 2015.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/29/2016 09:24
"Even if the matches longed for 2-3 months, winning by a point after having played 60 games, 90% of which are draws, is not that statistically significant either."

Point is, if there IS a significant enough difference in skill level between the two players, it's more likely to result in a win for either after a longer match. There should be fewer ties after 18 or 24 games than after 12, it's that simple. Bigger sample is always statistically more relevant, all else being equal...
Equus Equus 11/29/2016 06:34
For me this is a nonsense to give a world chess title of classical chess game on the basis of rapid games..
fightingchess fightingchess 11/29/2016 05:47
yasser's attempt to look sophisticated and funny backfired badly.
fons fons 11/29/2016 05:24
Drawing of colors for the tiebreak was not done properly.

Can't believe this level of amateurishness at a world championship. Not even joking considering how trivially easy it is to do it properly.

Carlsen during the game 12 press conference reminded me of Kasparov before his match with Kramnik: overly confident. And we know how that turned out...
Jacob woge Jacob woge 11/29/2016 05:09
One could play the tie-break first, to decide who has draw odds in the "true" match. This way we would avoid games without conflict of interest.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/29/2016 04:52
I have no nostalgia for the 3-months matches full of draws and where one would wonder if it is more the physical stamina of the players rather than their chess ability which the match measured. I am thinking of the Karpov-Kasparov matches - which of course had very great moments with great players. It is that old format that I question.

Even if the matches longed for 2-3 months, winning by a point after having played 60 games, 90% of which are draws, is not that statistically significant either. Or having the champ keep the title because the score is equal is even less significant of the champ's superiority - appears to me less fair than having a 4-games rapid match tiebreaker. Do not forget that the rapid tempo is not that far in chess quality from classical chess. I know of no other sport when someone who detains a title keeps it after a draw match - and here, it is the old chess championship format which is wrong. You can be the only one right against all, but not here...

Each format has its advantages and disadvantages. So, of course at each time a proposal is made, there will be someone to outline the disadvantages of the proposal - without necessarily making a counter-proposal, or without admitting the disadvantages of the counter proposal they make. And subjectivity is also an important factor in preferring a format to another.

But really, the old format which longed for 2-3 months - with an enormous proportion of draws and the champ keeping the title in case of equality - for me, no thank you or even, please not again, I beg you!
regondi regondi 11/29/2016 04:01
Urban Dictionary? Really Yasser? You really think that it has a panel of lexicographers?
regondi regondi 11/29/2016 03:59
Urban Dictionary? Really Yasser? You think that they have a panel of lexicographers that create defintitions?
Horrible Stench Horrible Stench 11/29/2016 02:56
How about we all donate 5 dollars each, and raise the funds for our own match between some entertaining players such as Morozevich and Shirov. We could call it the "People's Champion". If Kasparov chose to organise a seperate championship outside of FIDE, why can't the spectators do the same?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/29/2016 09:49
Disappointing game due to the fact that both players gave higher priority not to lose than to win. If the Champion retains after a tie, then we will have at least a player being motivated to win in every game. The very last game would be surely a fighting one. That does not save us from uneventful draws, but evidently improves the motivation.

Of course, in hindsight we cannot say that in that scenario Carlsen would have retained, as we would have seen a different match then.
handikap handikap 11/29/2016 08:15 a matter of days we will have a new (or same) rapid and/or blitz champion. Nothing more. Even though the World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2016 will be in about 3 weeks in Doha. Isn't that weird a bit?
doodad doodad 11/29/2016 07:07
I agree with koko48. Seriwan's meandering prose that prefaced his article should have been edited out.
thlai80 thlai80 11/29/2016 06:45
At this quality of play, giving Kasparov 6 months to train up would have crush either of them.
XSammaelx XSammaelx 11/29/2016 06:05
I'm of the school of thought that the further the tiebreak format gets from classical chess the less appropriate it is for deciding a classical match. Given that, I don't understand why the jump is made immediately to 25 min + 10 sec/move rapid. Why not first have a two day four game playoff with games 40 moves/1hr + 20 moves/30min + rest of game/30min (or something similar)? I'd feel much more comfortable regarding the winner in that format as classical champion.

In a related note, as a Carlsen fan, very disappointed in today's game. I can't believe he went straight for the draw and was unwilling to take even the slightest risk to try and decide the match in the 12 game classical portion. He squandered his final chance to prove his superiority over his challenger in the most relevant way, and now, if he wins, it'll be a win with an asterisk.

tom_70 tom_70 11/29/2016 05:26
Rapid and blitz is a terrible way to settle the classical world championship. In my opinion, no matter who wins the rapid playoff, the classical contest was a tie. Neither player proved their superiority over their other. We need to go back to the old 24 game format. I believe over the course of 24 games, Either Carlsen or Karjakin would have cracked. 12 games simply isn't enough for players of this caliber.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/29/2016 04:56
@ Jigz : "Why not challenger is crowned if match is a tie after 12 matches?" Because, quite simply, the Champion proved that he can be "the best", by winning the precedent World Championship, while the challenger only proved he could be "the best" when the Champion isn't participating (in the Candidates tournament). If the Challenger can't prove that he is capable of beating the Champion, he can't become the Champion. I think the ancient rule, that stated that, in case of a tie, the Champion keeps his title, is defensible, but the challenger hasn't at all proved enough to become the Champion in case of a tie.
Jigz Jigz 11/29/2016 04:02
Why not challenger is crowned if match is a tie after 12 matches? At least he equalled the champion and champion was not superior. Why not hand it over in that case as he doesn't deserve to keep it any longer. Anand-gelfand match was a similar story and it doesn't seem to be right that best blitz player wins.
Babysplitz Babysplitz 11/29/2016 04:02
I am a big fan of Carlsen.
However I think todays game was disgraceful.
I would have rather seen Carlsen fight hard for 8 hours and lose than not fight at all.
The tie break should only be used if the players really try at classical chess. Classical chess is what it's all about.
If you are afraid to push with White for the World Championship, then this is NOT a sport, nor art. Science...???

This just proves that Magnus is afraid.
I watched all 12 games from start to finish. I may skip the Rapid, they'll probably just agree to a quick draw in all games!!!
Blackacre Blackacre 11/29/2016 03:57
Agree with those who are appalled by rapid and blitz tiebreaks. That is no way to decide the classical chess championship. Even FIDE recognizes that classical, rapid, and blitz are different: there is a separate rating list for each and separate championships. Why hasn't FIDE also decreed that ties in the world rapid and blitz championships will be decided by classical games?
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/29/2016 03:15
Just listened to the press conference. An organizer's representative, in recognition that game 12 may have been frustratingly short for those who bought tickets for that game, announced that the tickets for game 12 will also be considered as valid for attending the tiebreaks of Wednesday.
KOTLD KOTLD 11/29/2016 03:10
@koko48, i totally agree with your observations on Seirawan !
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/29/2016 02:33
A proposal to avoid that the champion be chosen by Blitz or Armageddon without exhausting the players and the audience for 2-3 months like in previous formats.

If equal after 12 classical games - mini-match of 4 rapids - as currently, which is good. If still equal after this mini-match of rapids, rest day and then other mini-match of 4 rapids, and so on until we have a winner.

Rapid chess presents a reasonable chess quality, and with this format, it should not be that long to finally break the tie. And the champion would not be determined by a 2-games blitz match or by a single Armageddon game.

And each mini-match would be followed with high interest because at each one of them, the champion could be determined.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/29/2016 02:30
As for me, I am not at all disappointed by today's game.

On the one hand, there is so much at stake for the players, that I find completely normal that they do what they think to be the best to win the match.

And on the other hand, I find the "match strategy" aspect extremely interesting.

For me, objectively, before this last game, Carlsen was in the following situation : he had a sort of "one game world championship", with one rest day to prepare for it before, having the "first move advantage" - playing White -, and all this, having also a 81 Elo points advantage over his opponent. An apparently clearly favorable situation. And still, he didn't really try to do anything with this game.

At first sight, it doesn't seem to me to be at all logical : today, he had the advantage of the first move, while in the tiebreaks, he will only keep his rating advantage on Karjakin (which, by the way, is a little bit smaller in rapid than in classical games - 76 points - and even a little bit smaller still in blitz - 73 points).

I'm quite curious to see how things will unfold in the tiebreaks ; will Carlsen's rather strange strategy give him his third world title ??

What seems to me rather obvious is that if Carlsen lost his title in the tiebreaks, he would regret not to have tried more to win today !...
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/29/2016 02:03
Of course, he might not get punished for it (by Karjakin), but that won't mean it's not the case...
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/29/2016 02:02
"but is Carlsen overconfident?"

I would think he's already done enough, both in this match and other tournaments, to make this question unnecessary. (As in: clearly, he is.)
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/29/2016 02:00
"I really doubt the champion has to prove he is better than the challenger, I mean he is the champion for a good reason: he already dethroned the previous title holder!"

Yeah - two years ago... Different World Championship. Proves nothing about who's strongest now... (Unless you want to just decide the world champion by rating, which is obviously silly and uninteresting.) In all other sports (as far as I know) the world champion is decided in a struggle on equal terms for all participants. I see no reason for chess to be different. It would be more exciting, sure, to have draw odds, as making many draws would then simply not be an option for both players, but, ultimately, it's far more important for conditions to be fair than for the games to be entertaining to watch.
caliche2016 caliche2016 11/29/2016 01:56
@handikap I really doubt the champion has to prove he is better than the challenger, I mean he is the champion for a good reason: he already dethroned the previous title holder!

I think it is the challenger who has the onus of proving he is better than the current champion. That is why in case of an even result, a tie-break should not be necessary, the champion should retain the title.

I know this is far from ideal, but compared to the options -as the one used in this match-, it maybe is the lesser evil.
koko48 koko48 11/29/2016 01:44
I disagree that rapid games are 'not chess'....They are a faster variant of chess, but there is plenty of time for each player (especially a Super GM) to play a good, interesting, high quality game...With more mistakes perhaps, but a real chess game

This game was not were too many of the classical games this match....In the modern computer era, the classical games have become more of the non-chess games....Or just non-games

Remember the Anand-Gelfand 2012 WC match? We didn't get really good, interesting chess games UNTIL the rapid tiebreaks!
yesenadam yesenadam 11/29/2016 01:43
To the rapid/blitz fans:
There already is a rapid championship, and a blitz one. This is supposed to be classical. At least the candidates was less farcical than that one recently when the popular strategy was to draw and make every minimatch a blitz contest. The format is to blame. The players don't decide it. (Who does?)
1. The match is too short. They don't "despise their audience so much"; that's just silly. Who can blame them not taking risks, when losing one game will just about decide everything on the spot. For the players it's about winning the match, not making the games entertaining for the public.
2. 'The champion retains title in a tie' doesn't seem an "ugly and outdated convention" to me. It's far better than this rapid, blitz, armageddon plan. The challenger can't show he's superior? Fair enough, champion retains title. That didn't work so bad in the past.
It seems there's no ideal system; and these things change over time. But this ain't it.
Ken Walters Ken Walters 11/29/2016 01:23
Obviously the match should be much longer. Twelve games are far too few. Aside from that, the world champion sometimes takes unjustifiable risks, sometimes is very cautious. Well, I suppose now he trusts in rapid, but Sergey K. is no slouch there either. In these cases, where there are limited opportunities, it is difficult if not impossible to recover from an error. Good to trust yourself, but is Carlsen overconfident?
Shurlock_V Shurlock_V 11/29/2016 01:16
@Kpawn: spot on there lad.

The solution is longer time controls each game and a 24 game match in which the challenger must win by 1/2 or more to claim the crown.
Shurlock_V Shurlock_V 11/29/2016 01:14
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/29/2016 01:00
"Did Carlsen managed to prove that he is better than the challenger?"

That is a very good question... This is a pretty pathetic result for the Great Magnus Carlsen. At least now he gets the chance to prove he's better at rapid/blitz.
Not impressed!...
sranj2016 sranj2016 11/29/2016 12:49
Predicting Karjakin Win : With this draw, Magnus has left himself obliged to show magic in the tiebreaks, likely to result in overplaying and losing a game or two..
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 11/29/2016 12:47
Just as I suspected, Carlsen will go for a draw. He has the advantage, big, in rapid chess, in bullet chess. Will there be 12 games play-off. GOOD. This is one of the greatest chess championship in the world. Keeps everyone agog, glued to the ultimate battle on the board, getting more audience than boxing, basketball. Good luck to both Carlsen and Karjakin. Expecting a very good fight, a very good commentaries of GMs Caruana, Nakamura, SO.