Tie-break time: We have a Champion

by Maxim Dlugy
12/1/2016 – Maxim Dlugy did not want to miss the tie-breaker that was to decide the World Championship match between Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen. On Wednesday he visited the Fulton Market Building again and saw an exciting finish of a tough World Championship match. However, blitz specialist Dlugy wondered about Karjakin's handling of the clock.

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Of course, today was the most exciting day of the whole match. This was reflected in the number of games played on stage and the number of spectators in the general and in the VIP area. The television crews were busy as well, with the official broadcast team, the Russian sports network Match TV, and even the TV crew engaged by the Russian government to make a documentary about the match, actively seeeking views on what is going on as the excitement continued through game 3. 

The VIP hall is packed

I was quickly tucked away from the public by Anna Burtasova who suggested it would be great to have my comments on a rapid game. I readily agreed, as it is always a joy and an honor to throw around variations with Judit, and as the game was drawn ,one notable issue in Karjakin's play started to come out - the potential proximity of the victory in the match put more pressure on Sergey than on Magnus and this pressure translated into him thinking too much in a rapid game, clearly falling behind on time in a game where complications were hard to find. What would happen if this symptom continued? We were about to find out!

As I came out of the broadcasting studio and into the VIP area, I noticed a strange encased area in the VIP area which demanded a special red colored bracelet of those wanting to get in. As I inquired of Richard Conn, what that was about, he explained that this VIP area within the VIP hall (where food was already served) was arranged as a private party by billionaire Yury Milner, who hosted Magnus in California some time ago. This is good news. Perhaps Yury will like what he sees today and put his foot forward as a potential sponsor for the next World Championship match?

As game two started to unfold I was once again invited to comment in the big studio and of course was amazed like the rest of the chess playing world how Magnus squandered his advantage allowing Sergey to escape with a beautiful stalemate combination.

Though Sergey continued to display a very dubious use of time, he managed to collect himself sufficiently to make the World Champion waver and lose his nerve in realizing his endgame advantage after an impeccably played middlegame. The tension  reached its peak and even Judit commented that it would be difficult for Magnus to restore himself after such a setback.

Henrik Carlsen and Maxim Dlugy

What happened next was just incredible. As Sergey once again began to consume suspiciously large chunks of time on his moves, he wound up in an uncomfortable position. Then it seems he is finally close to equality, but inexplicably he just wouldn't move. The VIP crowd was going nuts, counting down the seconds on his clock. Finally, with a couple of seconds left, he picked up his rook and instead of attacking Black's queen took the pawn on c7. Magnus thought for a very short time before producing Ra1! forcing immediate resignation.

Peter Heine Nielsen (left), second of Magnus Carlsen, and Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam,
Editor of the New in Chess Magazine

The time factor turned out to be the decisive factor in this tiebreak. I was interviewed by Elmira Mirzoeva from Match TV before the last game of the tiebreak and explained that Sergey has to change the opening and forget about any result other than a win - although I didn't really believe that this was doable. 

The final game showed how dangerous it is to play anti-positional chess against Magnus. He took full control  over the squares on d5 and b6 squares and just waited to see what Sergey will be throwing at him. After Sergey spurned a draw by repetition  in a close to losing position, Magnus finished the game with perhaps the most beautiful mating pattern seen in a World Championship match, sacrficing his queen - the last move of the match.

A befitting way to celebrate his 26th Birthday. Viva Magnus!!

Postscriptum after the match - the World Championship reports by Maxim Dlugy:

Maxim Dlugy was born 1966 in Moscow and in 1977 his family emigrated to the US. In 1985 Dlugy became World Junior Champion and later made a career on Wall Street. He is married with children, lives in New York, and loves to play blitz.


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