New York 2016: Game two brings in huge lines of fans

by Albert Silver
11/13/2016 – Game two presented the next most interesting question: what did Karjakin have in store with White? While the game was not exactly thrilling, the lines of chess fans wanting to see the world champion in the flesh as he fought to retain his title were just huge. It was a Saturday and the fans came in droves, more often than not bringing their children in tow. Enjoy this report with many high-res images and annotations by GM Ruslan Ponomariov.

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Report and photos by Albert Silver

(click on images for high-res version)

The players were ready for battle and both displayed their game faces as they alternated between indifference, calm reflection, or a ‘just happy to be here’ expression

Though one cannot call Sergey Karjakin's choice of 1.e4 as a shock, considering his significant and varied repertoire, it did bring a few small thrills

It was obvious Carlsen had prepared for it but seemed unsure where the game was heading

The move above brought tears of joy as no effort was made to suggest that dreaded opening: the Berlin (knock on wood).

The appearance of the Ruy Lopez was an interesting choice

The first sign that things were not 'normal' was the huge line outside the building prior to the game's start. Hundreds upon hundreds came to see the great event

It was hardly a gathering of geeks in chess, rather it was family day as the number of children all over the venue was not a little surprising

Screens such as the one above, with the position on the board, the players, and Judit Polgar doing live commentary could be found all over the venue to ensure no one was left outside

The many benches were now packed with children and fans everywhere

Though some did watch the game unfold on the TV screens, many chose to enjoy the inspiration the match caused

Spain's most prominent chess reporter, Leontxo Garcia, was more than happy to share stories and anecdotes

Although, many chose to watch the games on Playchess live...

... others preferred to analyze as they always had: a board to set up and follow the action

Finally, the game was over. Far from thrilling it did bring in the fans

Sergey Karjakin - Magnus Carlsen (annotated by GM Ruslan Ponomariov)

[Event "AGON FWCM 2016"] [Site "New York"] [Date "2016.11.12"] [Round "2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C77"] [WhiteElo "2769"] [BlackElo "2857"] [Annotator "Ruslan Ponomariov"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventType "match"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] {Comments by Ruslan Ponomariov - FIDE World Champion 2002} 1. e4 {0 The last time Sergey played with White against Magnus was at the tournament in Bilbao this year. I was in Bilbao and commented the game live. Sergey played 1.d4, Magnus chose a Ragozin, which led to a very short draw. I also expected 1.d4 by Sergey in this game - after all, he has Shakriyar Mamedyarov and Vladimir Potkin as seconds and both are 1.d4 players. So, I thought they might have found one or two or even more improvements on the line Sergey and Magnus tried in Bilbao. But no, Sergey decided to play 1.e4 - his main weapon from his childhood. We might see Sergey switching to closed openings in the next games - which would indicate how much work they worked before the match to be ready for 1.e4 and 1.d4.} e5 {6} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {4} 3. Bb5 {0} a6 $5 {5 No Berlin this time. The mind games started....} 4. Ba4 {0} Nf6 {6} 5. O-O {0} Be7 {7} 6. d3 {17 The main idea of this line is to avoid lots of theory in the Classical Ruy Lopez. After 6.d3 you don't need to study the Marshall, the Breyer, Zaitzev, Chigorin etc. However, most people thought that Carlsen and not Karjakin would try to avoid the main lines.} ({Normally Sergey plays} 6. Re1 { in this position. After e.g.} b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Bb7 (8... d6 9. c3 Be6 10. d4 Bxb3 11. Qxb3 {also leads to an exchange of bishops but in contrast to the game White has a pawn and not a knight on c3.}) 9. d3 d6 10. a3 Na5 11. Ba2 c5 12. Nbd2 Bc8 {and if you compare this line to the game you will see that Black here spent more time to exchange the white-squared bishops.}) 6... b5 {22} 7. Bb3 {4} d6 {6 Black has a number of options. If you want to study this variation more deeply I would recommend to use the Reference button of your ChessBase program to see how the strongest players handled this position.} 8. a3 {19} O-O {10} 9. Nc3 {5} Na5 {50} 10. Ba2 {9} Be6 {9} 11. d4 {54} Bxa2 {13} 12. Rxa2 {2} Re8 {10 A small improvement by Carlsen. But a logical one. There is no need to force things in the center.} ({Earlier this year he played} 12... Nc6 13. d5 Nb8 {However, 12...Re8 is also the move many engines want to play. So, I don't know whether Carlsen's small refinement was really a surprise for Karjakin.}) {If one compares this position with the lines I mentioned in the comment to the 6th move, Black here is several tempi up and his position has no weaknesses. With pawns on d4 and e4 White has a strong pawn-center which gives him some space advantage but with each piece exchange this factor is less and less significant.} 13. Ra1 {478} Nc4 {1576} 14. Re1 {694} Rc8 { 281 The idea behind this move which puts the rook behind the pawn on c7 remains a little mystery to me. Probably Carlsen wanted to be ready meet d5 by White with ...c6.} ({Probably Black didn't want to play} 14... Bf8 { immediately, because after} 15. b3 Nb6 {White can pin the knight on f6 with} 16. Bg5) ({But there is nothing wrong with playing} 14... h6 {first, e.g.} 15. b3 Nb6 16. Bb2 Bf8 17. d5 Qc8 18. a4 c6 19. dxc6 Qxc6 {with counterplay.}) 15. h3 {717} h6 {120} 16. b3 {311} Nb6 {9} 17. Bb2 {26} Bf8 {258} 18. dxe5 { 980 To me, this looks like a silent draw offer. Modern chess is becoming more and more pragmatic.} ({I think if White wanted to keep chances for a fight he had to keep the tension in the center.} 18. Qd3 c6 19. Rad1 Qc7 20. Ne2 d5 21. Ng3 exd4 (21... dxe4 22. Nxe4 Nxe4 23. Qxe4 exd4 24. Qxe8 Rxe8 25. Rxe8 $13) 22. e5 Ne4 23. Nxe4 dxe4 24. Qxe4 c5 {I think this position is still equal but the pawn structure is asymmetrical and both players have chances for active play - White on the kingside, Black on the queenside.}) 18... dxe5 {2} 19. a4 { 6} c6 {416} 20. Qxd8 {39} Rcxd8 {2 As in game one we do see an early exchange of queens.} 21. axb5 {11} axb5 {12} 22. Ne2 {412} Bb4 {465} 23. Bc3 {269} Bxc3 {2} 24. Nxc3 {6} Nbd7 {8} 25. Ra6 {125} Rc8 {32} 26. b4 {592} Re6 {738} ({With } 26... c5 {could have posed Karjakin more problems, e.g.} 27. Nxb5 cxb4 28. Nd6 (28. Ra4 Rxc2 29. Rxb4 Rb8) {and now the tactical trick} 28... Re6 29. Nxc8 Rxa6 {gives White something to think about. But after White's 18th move Carlsen was probably also happy with a draw.}) 27. Rb1 {121} c5 {983} 28. Rxe6 {15} fxe6 {2} 29. Nxb5 {98} cxb4 {15} 30. Rxb4 {48} Rxc2 {9} 31. Nd6 {243} Rc1+ {34} 32. Kh2 {2} Rc2 {8} 33. Kg1 {11 Well, as it turned out game two was even less exciting than game one. But Carlsen's choice of opening was smart.} 1/2-1/2

Sergey Karjakin was happy to draw the game

The fans milled around the press conference area

Even Magnus was amazed at the sight

The players analyze some key moments briefly

Norwegian TV is in New York with a clear mission of promoting their favorite son

Maria Emelianova, a specialized chess photographer, is also there taking photos, except not for any news site. Instead, she is the private photographer of Sergey Karjakin!


Sunday is a rest day. Play will resume on Monday, November 14.



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.

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