World Championship Game 10: Double-edged

by André Schulz
11/23/2018 – The tenth game of the 2018 World Championship match in London was a highly tense affair. Fabiano Caruana surprised his opponent in the opening, but in the asymmetrical position that followed Magnus Carlsen seemed to have better chances. The Challenger, however, defended stubbornly and, in the endgame, Carlsen was a little too optimistic, lost a pawn, and nonetheless managed to secure a draw. The game was analysed by current U.S. champion SAM SHANKLAND and by ERWIN L'AMI. | Photos: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess

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Five Sicilians

It has been two weeks since the start of the 2018 World Championship match and all the games have remarkably ended in draws...but we have seen some fighting chess. Magnus Carlsen had a great chance in game one, but Fabiano Caruana also found himself in very favourable positions later in the match. 

For the mainstream media the fact that no decisive games have taken place might look like this has been a dull encounter, but for chess grandmasters these two players have shown great technical skills. As Robert Hübner said, "The players are not there to entertain the spectators, but to reach the highest possible sporting result". It is true, nevertheless, that a little more show would certainly help the popularisation of the game, but anyway the interest shown worldwide for this "mind competition" is remarkable.

The match has been portrayed in the biggest media outlets "on page one". And, on Thursday, the players gave everybody much to talk about, as the game was very exciting.

The press has paid a lot of attention to the match

The Challenger received the "advantage" of playing two Whites in the last three games, but this cannot be clearly seen as favourable, given the fact that the player with Black has been getting better positions throughout the match. On the other hand, the trend seems to be changing sides, as the last two games saw White getting better chances.

While Carlsen has played different opening moves (1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.e4), Caruana has remained faithful to moving the king's pawn first — and the World Champion has bravely gone for the Sicilian in all games. Nothing to reproach there, in terms of fighting spirit.

Another 1.e4 by Fabiano

Game 10 summary

GM Daniel King provides a 6-minute look at the main events of the day:

Chaos on the board

Game ten saw Caruana launching a move that caught Carlsen by surprise in the previously explored Sveshnikov variation — he used a Bayonet Attack on the queenside with 12.b4. This variation gives Black the chance to expand on the kingside, inviting Magnus to build a direct attack against the king.

Vishy Anand, while giving some commentaries about the game, said about this move:

I think [Carlsen] had checked Bd2 again, but somehow b4 slipped his mind. [...] I feel Black is OK now, but it’s still very sharp.

The former World Champion, who actually faced Carlsen twice under similar circumstances, mentioned that he thought Fabi's white games were fascinating, while Carlsen's preparation with White has not impressed him.

Another Sveshnikov

A critical moment arrived in move 23, when Carlsen gave up a pawn on the queenside:


Caruana did not dare to capture the pawn with 24.Bxb5. Anand said he would have captured "for specific reasons" as, "I would believe I'm not lost here and then I'm a pawn up". Instead of taking, Caruana went for 24.g3 and gave Black the opportunity to permanently threaten an attack against the weakened g2-square, as Carlsen shortly afterwards established a pawn on f3. Anand still preferred Caruana's position:

I like White more, even after g3, I like White…We shouldn’t forget that Black is attacking with one piece right now. Those bishops are very very far away from doing anything.

The queens were exchanged and, right before the time control was reached, the game turned into a double-rook endgame with Black having a strong central pawn chain:


The asymmetrical position still offered a lot of play for both sides. Black had activated his king and his position was visually more attractive, but the super-computer Sesse still considered the position to be completely equal.

There was no lack of excitement in game ten

In an attempt to go for active play, Carlsen was a little too optimistic and lost a pawn, but he managed to convince his opponent that there was nothing to play for in the rook endgame with 3 v 2 on one flank. After 54 moves, the draw was signed in the following position:


It was definitely a chaotic game. Anand was proven right when the game finished, as he had stated, "I don’t think Magnus likes chaos…but he’s such a good calculator that he’ll probably cope. He’ll probably cope better than he thinks". Nonetheless, the Indian also made an important remark when he said that Magnus "is not someone who likes risk for risk's sake".

Only two classical games are left. Will we see the first World Championship match to end with all the classical games drawn? We will find out by Monday...

Match standings


Game 10 press conference

Game 10 analysed by Sam Shankland

Current U.S. champion Sam Shankland examined the game and thought both contenders could have taken the first full point of the match: 

There were plenty of games where one side did not make the most of their chances, but this has been the only one where I thought both players at some point had very real winning chances.


Round-up shows

GM Erwin l'Ami reviews the game

All games of the match


Translation from German and additional reporting by Antonio Pereira


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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