New York 2016 G5: The tables are turned

by Albert Silver
11/18/2016 – The last games of the match may have ended in draws, but if there ever was an example to point to with the words, “not all draws are created equal”, these are it. If Sergey Karjakin had shown extraordinary resourcefulness in saving his last two lost games, the question still remained unanswered: could he beat Magnus Carlsen? Unanswered until today when he lashed out after Carlsen mistakenly lowered his guard. This might have cost the champion big, but he dug very deep and managed to save it. Large illustrated report.

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Report and photos by Albert Silver

(click on images for high-res version)

The day started quite normally as the players entered the glass playing room. Magnus was in good spirits, presumably content with his near wins, seeing them as an indication that it was merely a matter of time. Little did he know that Karjakin felt the same, except on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. He too felt it was just a matter of time, but to get a chance at the World Champion. One of them would be proven right this round.

Magnus gives Karjakin a big smile as they shake hands. One curiosity of the opening moves was that a warning was issued to the photographers allowed into the glss room where they could take photos for the first ten minutes: two had been caught the previous day actually taking selfies.

Bennett Miller, director of "Capote", makes the opening move. The film "Capote" gave the late Philip Seymour Hoffman the Oscar for Best Actor.

No Ruy Lopez! There were no doubt cheers in the spectator's area as played 3. Bc4

Sergey Karjakin was all business as the game started

Anastasia Karlovich, FIDE press officer and photographer

The main room is quite full today, with fans loving the complicated struggle going on. The organizers are also running a blitz tournament in view of the success of the one two days ago. One can hear the pairings being announced while others debate the game at hand.

Avid chess fun playing the blitz event

The famous Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia stayed focused on the task at hand

It was with no small surprise that I discovered I was not the only Brazilian journalist at the venue covering the match. Meet Lincoln Lucena, a veteran chess journalist who has covered every World Championship since 1984. After discovering he had a colleague, he laughed quite hard. He explained that in his previous article for the "Correio Brasiliense" he had commented he was the only Brazilian here, and now he would have to correct this.

Carlsen - Karjakin (New York 2016, Game Five)

Magnus Carlsen gave the impression he felt he could do anything as he held the game's reins, but he was disabused of this as an oversight allowed Sergey Karjakin to create strong winning chances with the strike 42....d4!

As Sergey left to enjoy some quiet time in the player's hall where they can sit on a sofa, grab a snack, or sip some coffee, Magnus was seen shifting in his chair quite a lot looking anxious.

The fans followed the action with huge interest, milling around tables sitting on the floor near a display even

Tim Hanks (lef), from the US Chess Federation asked Hungarian GM Denes Boros to explain some of the finer points of the position. Denes is very generous with his time and happy to oblige.

IM Javier Ochoa could easily stay in the exclusive VIP area, but seems to prefer to join the main room when the action heats. He is then seen analyzing with others at a board in the Café.

NRK, the Norwegian TV network, also does the rounds asking for opinions by anyone in the Café area

Magnus Carlsen - Sergey Karjakin (New York 2016, Game five)

[Event "AGON FWCM 2016"] [Site "New York"] [Date "2016.11.18"] [Round "5"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2853"] [BlackElo "2772"] [PlyCount "102"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventType "match"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceTitle ""] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. e4 {(0s)} e5 {(7s)} 2. Nf3 {(0s)} Nc6 {(4s)} 3. Bc4 {(0s)} Bc5 {(5s)} 4. O-O {(0s)} Nf6 {(5s)} 5. d3 {(0s)} O-O {(7s)} 6. a4 {(13s)} d6 {(43s)} 7. c3 {(33s)} a6 {(7s)} 8. b4 {(21s)} Ba7 {(21s)} 9. Re1 {(6s)} Ne7 {(139s)} 10. Nbd2 {(68s)} Ng6 {(50s)} 11. d4 {(81s)} c6 {(431s)} 12. h3 {(194s)} exd4 {(1070s)} 13. cxd4 {(13s)} Nxe4 {(497s)} 14. Bxf7+ {(525s)} Rxf7 {(15s)} 15. Nxe4 {(10s)} d5 {(217s)} 16. Nc5 {(937s)} h6 {(312s)} 17. Ra3 {(93s)} Bf5 {(160s)} 18. Ne5 {(1262s)} Nxe5 {(37s)} 19. dxe5 {(51 s)} Qh4 {(1586s)} 20. Rf3 {(971s)} Bxc5 {(327s)} 21. bxc5 {(2s)} Re8 {(8s)} 22. Rf4 {(88s)} Qe7 {(25 s)} 23. Qd4 {(46s)} Ref8 {(33s)} 24. Rf3 {(233s)} Be4 {(332s)} 25. Rxf7 {(154s)} Qxf7 {(17s)} 26. f3 {(70s)} Bf5 {(7s)} 27. Kh2 {(237s)} Be6 {(82s)} 28. Re2 {(114s)} Qg6 {(96s)} 29. Be3 {(67s)} Rf7 {(92s)} 30. Rf2 {(71s)} Qb1 {(122s)} 31. Rb2 {(364s)} Qf5 {(141s)} 32. a5 {(210s)} Kf8 {(132s)} 33. Qc3 {(37s)} Ke8 {(328s)} 34. Rb4 {(37s)} g5 {(160s)} 35. Rb2 {(179s)} Kd8 {(33s)} 36. Rf2 {(24s)} Kc8 {(75s)} 37. Qd4 {(51s)} Qg6 {(74s)} 38. g4 {(167s)} h5 {(56s)} 39. Qd2 {(62s)} Rg7 {(215s)} 40. Kg3 {(0s)} Rg8 {(175s)} 41. Kg2 {(665s)} hxg4 {(446s)} 42. hxg4 {(30s)} d4 {(231s)} 43. Qxd4 {(577 s)} Bd5 {(511s)} 44. e6 {(378s)} Qxe6 {(52s)} 45. Kg3 {(122s)} Qe7 {(43s)} 46. Rh2 {(208s)} Qf7 {( 548s)} 47. f4 {(14s)} gxf4+ {(4s)} 48. Qxf4 {(26s)} Qe7 {(200s)} 49. Rh5 {(179s)} Rf8 {(544s)} 50. Rh7 {(214s)} Rxf4 {(23s)} 51. Rxe7 {(9s)} Re4 {(4s)} 1/2-1/2

During the press conference, FIDE press officer WGM Anastasiya Karlovich conducted the interview as usual, when she was suddenly given a lashing by Magnus Carlsen, still very upset over the game.

Although he did fail to deliver the coup de grâce, Karjakin was in great spirits. Magnus needs no guessing.

The match is still drawn with five draws each, but it has been anything but dull as the games have led to thrilling bouts.

Current standings


A couple of hours before the start of the day's game, a book launch was held in the venue for "Masterworks", a new coffeetable book on wonderful chess sets.

Masterworks is a book by Dylan Loeb McClain who put together this fantastic volume on chess sets of all kinds

Dylan McClain, the editor and co-author of the book, was the chess columnist for the New York Times. He is now the content manager for the WorldChess site.

Among the many wondrous sets is this unique Japanese design. The cubes that represent the pieces only tell part of the story. These pieces are actualllly distinguished by perfume. Thus to know which piece is what, one need to smell the pieces.

The author explained that his absolute favorite set was the 'Holy Roman Emperor vs the Pope'. Each set comes with a tale to explain not only the bare physical attributes, such as material or dates, but the idea behind he board and its history.

Here is a small excerpt to illustrate the type of story found within:

"In the late 13th century and early 14th century, an Italian monk name Jacobus de Cessolis gave sermons on the subject of morals and ethics, using chess as a metaphor to explain social pluralism. (...)

Cessolis's idea influenced the design of chess set (and in some case, chess rules) and some sets were made in which each piece was given individual attention and aesthetic variation. Perhaps the most magnificent set ever made that reflects Cessolis's influence is the one shown here: Holy Roman Emperor versus the Pope."

In this case each of the pawns came in a unique design, but respecting a form (size) factor to identify them as pawns. Each pawn in this set represented a different craftsman.

It needs to be said that the book is both large and luxurious. It is a beautifully done work with hundreds upon hundreds of sets. The photos are all top notch with very high quality setups for the images. The paper itself is also very high quality and the general impression is of a highly desirable book for one's library or coffeetable. Any random perusing will yield a beautiful set with great photos and a story behind it. The price is a very low US$47.50, which seems extremely inexpensive in view of the sheer quality of the volume.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/20/2016 03:56
"Karjakin's best change to win is during these classical games, and he's not really showing much."

Carlsen has had winning chances twice, Karjakin once. Based on this, I would say Carlsen isn't showing much in the way of getting an advantage either... but people automatically forgive him because of his approach to openings and chess in general. Just because that approach was successful against Anand and is successful in tournament play, where (especially today, when you don't need big plus scores like one did in the past) it's enough to beat the few weaker players, or players out of form, consistently to take first, without needing to press the better ones too hard, it doesn't mean it's going to keep working in this and all of his future matches. It didn't keep working for Capablanca or Karpov (the most famous champions who were not known for being big opening experts at all, but rather for outplaying their opponents in the middlegame and endgame) either - Capa lost his first match against an opponent not much, much older than he was, as did Karpov (since the 1984 match was cancelled before a conclusion was reached.) And they never regained their title, even though Karpov, at least, had chances. I'm not saying Carlsen will lose, or that Karjakin is on par with Alekhine or Kasparov, of course. I don't know about all that. But to make Carlsen a 70% favorite at this point, like IM Rensch over at (and, I'm sure, others) is doing, is a bit absurd, in my opinion.

Anyway, the stats do favor Carlsen retaining his title at this point - in the previous four World Championship matches where the first six games were drawn, the champion retained his title each time. But they also strongly indicate a tight finish to come - three of those four matches were won by a single point (and they were all long matches), and in the fourth (Kasparov-Anand 1995) the margin after 12 games was also one point. Also, the first win in those matches went to the champion twice, and to the challenger twice. So we should be in for an equally tough match for the champion from game 7 on, and, if the stats are to be believed, a 12th game decider, at the very least...
alekhin alekhin 11/19/2016 05:10
where are you kasparov where are you karpov,where are you fischer!!
alekhin alekhin 11/19/2016 05:09
So boring!! بچه بازی شده
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/19/2016 05:48
Karjakin could have been smiling because he played his first game where he had a winning chance. He missed it - but was already aware exactly of what he missed after the game (Rh8) - he mentioned it in the press conference and even immediately after the game to Carlsen.

But I interpret the photograph only as a reflection of the mood of the players - it gives no idea of what will happen next in the match.

But we know that Karjakin is able to do better than save a game that is almost lost. Again, less skill was required from Karjakin not to put himself in the trouble he put himself in games 3 and 4 than the skill required to get out of that trouble. There is no guarantee that Karjakin will put himself in so much trouble again.
simgrund simgrund 11/19/2016 02:40
to sharpnova 11/18/2016 09:41
Match is going to end 9.5 - 2.5

Nope, it's already minimum 3.0
Aighearach Aighearach 11/18/2016 10:00
People still forget that the goal is to win, not to be happy with draws. It is great for Karjakin that he can take it "one game at a time" emotionally, right? But the difference in strength isn't going to decrease if they get to rapid or blitz playoffs. The person smiling after draws is the person who knows they're the underdog! That doesn't result in underdogs being favorites, or having some kind of momentum. Karjakin's best change to win is during these classical games, and he's not really showing much.

People who think Carlsen being a bad mood means he's somehow not doing well, or that it is somehow a bad sign competitively must be new to chess! Longtime chess fans know that most of the greats get surly during competition.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/18/2016 05:42
The last photograph from the press conference is a good illustration of the French saying: "Une image vaut mille mots" - An image is worth a thousand words.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 11/18/2016 12:24
"a5 I dont believe in fortress, so I Close my door, and gives the keys to my opponent..."
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 11/18/2016 11:20
I had said this before and repeat it here again: the real show has started from game 5 on. Each draw is a win for Karjakin and a painful loss for Carlsen who is as if experiencing his first Championship title defence. If it were Anand he would sure have handled it all away by game five. But with a quality like Karjakin... Carlsen is obviously desperate. Game after game He has been showing signs of stress, anger and even disrespect (to Ms Karlovich). And these all positively count to the Russian's success factors. Karjakin's self confidence has immensely improved and game 5 bore this out. It was funny when I saw almost all the commentators were seeing these draws in winning positions for Carlsen as something permanent where he would reach such positions in every game whenever he "pleased" and finally would convert one to a win. Yes, of course there is only so long you can be like that and of course you should expect that tables will be turned. The whole point is that the Karjakin after 5 games seems to have become a totally different thing to the one at the beginning of the match in every way- only thanks to these Carlsen-winning "draws". Game on!
satman satman 11/18/2016 10:29
It shows how driven these guys are when Carlsen can look so dejected after saving a difficult position.
Presumably he's in a state of shock for having allowed the game to slip in the first place.
sharpnova sharpnova 11/18/2016 09:41
Match is going to end 9.5 - 2.5

You'll see :)