Game 8: Karjakin takes the lead / Notes by Fabiano Caruana

11/21/2016 – Karjakin takes the lead - 3.5-4.5 for the challenger after eight rounds! Carlsen is shocked and can't attend the press conference after a game like a rollercoaster ride, which went downhill for the World Champion as he took too many risks in time trouble and ended up in a worse endgame with Queen a light pieces, which was converted convincingly by Karjakin. The challenger will play White in game No. 9 this Wednesday. Our coverage in the newsblog.

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World Chess Championship News - 2016-11-21

Game No. 8 - Notes by Fabiano Caruana


10.15 Mumbai/ 5.45 Hamburg/ 23.45 New York: Sagar Shah analyzes the reason why Magnus Carlsen lost game eight. His conclusion was a clear lack of objectivity on the part of the World Champion. Full analysis and key positions explained on the ChessBase India newspage.

1:34 / 7:34 pm: The World Champion leaves TV presenter Kaja Snare without replying, ... truly upset after this katastrophe, not being able to attend the press conference after this shock.

1:09 / 7:09 pm: Carlsen resigns, Karjakin takes the lead 4.5-3.5. Tomorrow he will have the white pieces.

1:02 / 7:02 pm: After 51...h5 Judit Polgar makes a prediction: Sergey Karjakin will win the game!

0:49 / 6.49 pm: 

Carlsen is making a very unhappy impression now - he has to defend an unpleasant ending

0:45 / 6.45 pm:  Karjakin is now a pawn down, but his strong knight and the passer on a3 give him more than enough compensation. 

0:19 / 6.19 pm: 

NOW: Double Mistake in urgency: - On the border of hazardous

0:09 / 6.09 pm: Stefan Löffler already thinks about the impact of this time trouble blunders on the upcoming games.


0:05 / 6.05 pm:


00.02 / 6.02 pm: To catch up: Carlsen took plenty of risk (35.c5) and seemingly blundered in time trouble - however Karjakin did not find the best defence, still emerges with a pawn up but has a very weak king. What a game we are having?!

23.56 / 5.56 pm:

Carlsen realizes that he has misplayed it

23.48 / 5.48 pm: Ian Nepomniachtchi already advices Carlsen to seek for some perpetual - has the world champion overpushed his luck?

23.40 / 5.40 pm:

Both players are down six minutes, the tension increases as Carlsen takes further risks.

23.18 / 5.18 pm: However, his colleague Daniel King sees it optimistically.

23.04 / 5.04 pm: British Grandmaster Conquest makes a reference to Magnus' opening choice in this game:

Johannes Hermann Zukertort was a 19th century chess player who competed in the 1st official World Championship Match in 1886. He lost it to Wilhelm Steinitz.

23.04 / 5.04 pm: According to world class player Ian Nepomniachtchi the position became very drawish.

22.55 / 4.55 pm: As Polgar and Caruana, Radjabov is not impressed with Karjakin's play in this middlegame.

22.42 / 4.42 pm: Caruana on Sergeys 21...Bxc4: "once you give up the bishop, there is no attack" - Magnus' king is out of danger now and white has a slight advantage.

22.33 / 4.33 pm: Both players only have a bit over 30 minutes for the next 20 moves - time trouble could become an issue.

22.32 / 4.32 pm: 

Current World Nr. 2 Fabiano Caruana joins the commentary team. He is not very impressed by Karjakin's maneuver Bc6 and Bd5.

22.14 / 4.14 pm: 

Sergey is probably trying to get through the variation jungle starting with 20...Qg5

21.55 / 3.55 pm: Magnus does not look very happy. Sergey has more time on the clock and quite promising attacking chances on the kingside. 

21.51 / 3.51 pm: Jonathan Rowson is less impressed by Carlsen's maneuvers:

21.28 / 3.28 pm: Judit's sister Susan ist also puzzled:

21.28 / 3.28 pm: Polgar is surprised by Magnus' choice of putting the Queen to e1: "...but it can be a genius move, it's like Magnus played it"

Carlsen playing 17.Qe1!?

21.02 / 3.02 pm: 

20.42 / 2.42 pm: Btw, today's 1st move was carried out by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

"Sergey, is d4 ok for you as well?" (Foto: Max Avdeev)

20.30 / 2.30 pm: Dutch Grandmaster Erwin l'Ami believes Sergey considers to exchange the strong bishop on d3.

20.21 / 2.21 pm: Team Carlsen continues to try sidelines - this time Zukertort!

20.21 / 2.21 pm: 

Both players seem to be highly concentrated from the beginning.

20.20 / 2.20 pm: As the opening is less forcing than the Spanish mainlines we had so far, both players take their time to figure out the best move orders. Only seven moves played so far.

20.03 / 2.03 pm: Carlsen chooses 1.d4 today, but does not opt for the Trompovsky again, instead he continues rather slow with 2.Nf3 and 3.e3 - a clear sign that he will try to avoid theory and "play a long game" (Polgar).

19.57 Hamburg / 1.57 pm New York:

Magnus Carlsen arrives early at the board

19.53 Hamburg / 1.53 pm New York: Some minutes to go! Magnus Carlsen with the white pieces will try to put as much pressure as possible on his opponent, Judit Polgar expects a long battle.

16.34 Hamburg/ 10.34 New York: If you can't wait until game 8, you can watch the highlights of game 7 presented by Daniel King here.

This is what the kids had to ask the players:

12.49 / 6.49 am: The youngsters know it better. Attending the press conference, some schoolboys asked the right questions. "After 17Nf6+, were you like … oh oh, I wanna draw now... Or did you wanna still win?" Agon’s press officer seemed surprised, so were Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen, but both grandmasters proved to be real professionals and indeed they took their time and gave an honest and proper answer. 
Isn’t it weird to have so many draws? That was another question - adults don't ask that kind of things. And again, both star players were honest and polite with their replies (see video links below). This is the way of showing some style.

Yesterday’s performance was a great show to watch. Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe (‘The Wire’)and TV journalist Neil deGrasse Tyson as star guests obviously enjoyed to participate. Our man in the scene: Max Dlugy. The VIP was melting into the crowd, had a chat with other VIPs and teamed up with Fabio Caruana for an spontaneous Blitz battle. See his report he wrote for us. Even Judit Polgar said she felt like joining the party in the VIP lounge. But please, dear organizers: Keep in mind that the former Fide World Champion Alex Khalifman, the combined U.S.S.R. and US-Champion Boris Gulko and the former Correspondence Chess World Champion Gennady Nesis should be welcomed in the VIP lounge if it deserves the name.

The mood is relaxed, both Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen are in good spirits, they don’t show aggression towards each other (maybe some old school pros would like them to) but show a super professional attitude towards the event. The climax of the battle is yet to come, we’ll be there.


11.28 Hamburg/ 5.28 New York: Yannick Pelletier did a round up of game 7 on See here what he has to say.

11.23 Hamburg/ 5.23 New York: Our conference snippets from game 7.

8.00 Mumbai time/ 3.30 Hamburg/ 21.30 New York: Game seven analysis and key positions explained by Sagar Shah on ChessBase India newspage.

22.17 / 5.17 pm: Draw. Carlsen admitted  in the press-conference that 18...Rc8 was a blunder. Karjakin: 'Not a long game, but quite interesting, I didn't know the theory too well... At the end I could not improve my position.' A bit later the challenger said: 'You have to grab the chances when you get them. My only chance was in game five.' Magnus Carlsen: 'The results of the last games were decent for me.'... 'The last two games were not that interesting, but in most of the games something was happening.'

Cliffhanger with a question asked by a boy: When Sergey played 17.Nf6+, was it like 'Uh oh, ooh, I've got to get the draw?' for you? (Update with the press conference will follow)

Breaking news: Karjakin cancelled the helicopter flight - because of the good weather. But he will go up in the air, probably after the next game.

22.14 / 5.14 pm: Judit Polgar after 33...Rc8 - "Magnus is saying: 'my pieces are placed perfectly.'"

22.09 / 5.09 pm: 

22.04 / 4.04 pm:


21.53 / 3.53 pm: Judit Polgar showed remarkable prediction skills by proposing somewhere around 19...Bf6 that the game might result in a R+B vs. R+B endgame.

21.37 / 3.37 pm: Radjabov is obviously in good spirits today. 

21.32 / 3.32 pm: According to Judit Polgar, after 18...Rc8 ('obviously a miscalculation'), Black can only play for two results. White, however, can play for a win for 80 or more moves, she says.

21.25 / 3.25 pm: Radjabov made a remarkable point before 18...Rc8?!?!?!:


21.18 / 3.18 pm: Is Carlsen too eager to get a draw? His 18...Rc8 is criticized by Polgar and Radjabov and both claim that Carlsen is going for a draw. A draw might indeed be the most likely result. Polgar predicts a R+B vs R+B or a rook endgame. Carlsen looks a little nervous, but this might be misleading. 

21.10 / 3.10 pm: Fabiano Caruana is among the spectators and plays some blitz.

21.00 / 3.00 pm: Tejmur Radjabov is giving insightful comments. Predicted ...Nb4 by Magnus Carlsen. He is joking and suggests the arbiters should reduce the time control. "They do the bad moves fast anyway."

Photo by Max Avdeev

Game 7 starts, actor and chess aficionado Gbenga Akinnagbe is making the first move. Photo by Max Avdeev


World Chess Championship 2016 Newsblogs:

21.28 / 3.28 pm:


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The_Angler The_Angler 11/23/2016 03:48
Cant wait too see Magnus get angry now, and just steam roll karjakin :)
FOffermann FOffermann 11/22/2016 11:49
Truffaut ('So Tweets are considered journalism now?'):
Not exactly, but a part of it, as long as the Tweets provide quotes by people who have got something to contribute. The people we quote are mostly professionals. But sometimes we also like to quote people with a special idea about the event. When the game is on, one way to look at it is that Twitter resembles a campfire with people gathered around.

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
- Oscar Wilde
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/22/2016 08:45
"Carlsen has traditionally performed his best when his back is against the wall and he MUST win."

Highly debatable. Sometimes, yes... But at the London Candidates, at the Olimpiads up until this year, in Norway last year, he very much didn't... Also, in a match against one of the best in the world... not really ever! Anand never put him under anywhere near this much pressure, in either match.

He might do it this time - and I'd be very impressed. But I'm not at all sure he's a favorite to do so. Gun to my head, I'd say not!... No, I think he's going to need Sergey to collapse in order to win this match (which I hope doesn't happen, and, I think, most probably won't.)
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 11/22/2016 05:47
There it came, finally. I had predicted that tables are really going to be turned as Carlsen simply cannot win. This is greatly psychological although Karjakin has shown he is no short of his opponent in technique and resilience. Watching this WC match I keep remembering Garry Kasparov's very good analysis on Fischer-Karpov could-be match. He said that Fischer could have defended his title successfully had it been anyone of older generation. But with a new generation player like Karpov, he felt insecure and could possibly have cracked. I think that is pretty much the same here with Carlsen as he is facing his symmetry before himself and his perks don't yield as much this time as with Anand.
Unfortunately Comments like those of the Austrian champion like many others are awe- biased coming from a Carlsen-dominated mindset. Being in love or deep reverense with Carlsen is one thing and objective observation of what the Russian has been systematically doing since game one is surely a different thing. He says "In game 5 Carlsen gave Karjakin chances with 41.Kg2 but if Carlsen does not give such chances I cannot imagine that he will lose a game." which sounds funny because if Carlsen keeps making such mistakes during this match, well, it means that he IS under pressure. That simple. On top of these, in the past two games Carlsen has proven to be so short of dignity and behaviour, sadly.
ARK_ANGEL ARK_ANGEL 11/22/2016 05:40
Remind me of famous Caplabanca vs Alekhine 1927 championship. No one believed Capa would loose. And just before the tournament Capa defeated Alekhine convincingly in their encounter. And no one in chess world given any chance for Alekhine. Same way I have seen here how good Calsen and bets against Karajakin. Because just like Capa just before the WC Carlsen defeated Karajakin convincingly. So everyone agreed Carlsen will bust Karajakin. See what happens finally. Just like Capa same way Carlsen is naturan genious with exceptional middle and end game skills. But like Alekhine somehow Karajakin managed to exploit some weakness. Amazing....
drgibbon drgibbon 11/22/2016 05:30
@tom_70 "simply another blip in the World Champion lineage?" Seriously, how did you even come up with that? Haha, it's a tough gig these days, you can be the chess champion of the entire world, and if you can't keep it going for 20 years then you're called a "blip" ;)
htd2013 htd2013 11/22/2016 04:55
Well, Magnus demoted his light squared Bishop to Pawn! and lost. Why too much overestimating ones own position? Magnus had chance of perpetual 2-3 times, but did not go for it. Sergy made mistakes but not blunders, good :)
KOTLD KOTLD 11/22/2016 04:35
Congratulations to Sergey, I'm so happy for the guy.
Plus now Carlsen will fight harder.
fixpont fixpont 11/22/2016 04:29
This game reminds me a famous line from a videogame: "Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer." Carlsen could have made an easy draw at least 3 times during the game, if he had been patient, but overpushed every time and finally got punished.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 11/22/2016 04:12
@tom_70 A tiny miny problem is...Karjakin is performing even better under pressure =)
Shurlock_V Shurlock_V 11/22/2016 03:58
What a cry baby.

Truffaut Truffaut 11/22/2016 03:43
So Tweets are considered journalism now?
tom_70 tom_70 11/22/2016 03:41
Carlsen has traditionally performed his best when his back is against the wall and he MUST win. Well, that time is now. The measure of any great champion is how they perform under pressure. Will Carlsen be a generational champion or simply another blip in the World Champion lineage? We will know very soon.
thlai80 thlai80 11/22/2016 03:21
I'm not sure if there will be fireworks. Carlsen in a difficult position. If he can't win a single game in the last 8 games, how can he force a win now when he's down a game. There's a chance he would equalize, but at the same could overstretch and lose another game.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/22/2016 03:19
@benavas3: Carlsen doesn't believe in fortresses, he'll have to win the next games instead!!
death35 death35 11/22/2016 03:10
¿Por qué titubean tanto para responder unas simples preguntas? Es algo un poco incómodo. Son excelentes jugadores, pero deben responder claramente.

Why do they hesitate so much to answer simple questions? It's a little awkward. They are excellent players, but they must respond clearly.
fyang8 fyang8 11/22/2016 02:50
@benavas3, White could not defend f2. Black simply needs to bring his king to f2 and White can do nothing about it.
OldChStyle OldChStyle 11/22/2016 02:47
Finally a win,.. a beautiful and exciting game. In the following games we can expect a magnificent fireworks!
romualdo romualdo 11/22/2016 01:47
Finally something different and seems we will have a huge fight in the next games !
Bill Alg Bill Alg 11/22/2016 01:45
What fortress? Black plays ...Kg1 and Qh2#
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 11/22/2016 01:39

No there isn't. Black walks his king to f1 then the bishop no longer has any squares.
KandiRavi KandiRavi 11/22/2016 01:23
Great win by Karjakin
benavas3 benavas3 11/22/2016 01:13
Isn't there a fortress with white pawns in e4, g3 and h4, and white bishop in g2 or h1?
flachspieler flachspieler 11/21/2016 01:06
What shall I say? Perssons commenting is fine,
although slightly less exhillarparating than that
on game 6.