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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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/25/2018 08:22
@ bornforchess007: Hi to you too!!
bornforchess007 bornforchess007 11/25/2018 01:35
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/24/2018 07:19
@ Abraxas79 (2/2):

"My answer to this is to take, on the one side, the draw percentage of the Champions Showdown and, on the other side, the respective draw percentages in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament in Rapid and in Blitz. The two competitions were played in the same period ; the player weren't the same, but their levels were rather similar, and the number of games quite important in one and the other event.

In the Champions Showdown, the draw percentage was 42 % (cf.

In the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament, in Blitz, the draw percentage was 41 % ( ; in Rapid, it was 53 % ( Calculating with the Blitz / Rapid ratio of the Champions Showdown (70 blitz games and 30 rapid games), this would give a 45 % draw percentage.

So, on the one hand, we have a draw rate of 42 % at the Champions Showdown ; on the other hand, calculated with the percentages of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament, a similar competition to the Champions Showdown but in traditional chess would give a 45 % draw rate.

In my opinion, a difference of 3 % between the draw rate in Chess960 and traditional chess is more or less negligible, so I think that our working hypothesis seems in fact to be that to use Chess960 in lieu of traditional chess more or less doesn't change anything in terms of draw rate. My impression is that you didn't fully take into account the difference in defensive level between an amateur (even a very good amateur - for example a 2200 player) and a 2700+ GM : these players really KNOW how to force a draw, and, even in Chess960, they don't lose much more frequently than in traditional chess..."
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/24/2018 07:18
@ Abraxas79 (1/2): About the comparative draw rates in traditional chess and Chess960, I will simply repost (in my next post, as this post would be too long otherwise) an excerpt of one of my previous posts (taken out of a discussion about the World Championship format on this page :
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/24/2018 03:33
@ Abraxas79:

Do you know that, in the Chess960's "Champion Showdown" in Saint Louis, the draw rate was approximately the same as in a comparable traditional chess' tournament? I haven't the time for the moment to check it, but I have precise numbers for this...
Abraxas79 Abraxas79 11/24/2018 01:56
The game is played out. 16, 18 or 24 games would only mean more draws. The format needs to change to Chess960. Kill the opening theory and memorization and get back to playing chess.
Timothy Chow Timothy Chow 11/24/2018 06:01
I was really hoping to see 24.Bxb5 in Game 10. I wonder if a longer time control or more games in the match would have made Caruana more willing to risk 24.Bxb5. If so then I think that that would be a good argument for changing the format of the World Championship. But maybe it's just a matter of personal style, and that's just how Caruana plays. I think someone like Korchnoi would have played 24.Bxb5 or maybe even 22.axb6 no matter what the format.
benedictralph benedictralph 11/24/2018 01:32
@Pichy59: I was wondering the same thing.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/23/2018 09:28
And globally, I must say that, personally, I find this match very interesting; the games are drawn, but this doesn't prevent them from having a quit rich chess content...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/23/2018 09:26
It seems to me rather obvious that this match shows that a 12-games match isn't enough, in view of the incredible level of defense displayed by some of the top-players, like Carlsen and Caruana. And, furthermore, Carlsen himself explained in the press conference that he think that 16 or 18 games should be better.

I think also that the problem of the present format is that 12 draws is rather OK for the two participants, because, then, there is another match, with rapid time controls.

The simplest solution was what have been used for many World Championships of the past (including all the Kasparov - Karpov matches, apart from the infamous 1984 match): in case of a drawn match, the Champion keeps his title; as this solution always seems to be quite popular, judging by the comments on the pages about the World Championship format, this would seem to be a good solution to this problem. But other solutions are also possible...

It seems that in at least some of the Kasparov - Karpov matches, in case of a drawn match, the prize fund was divided equally between the two participants; I rather think that this is something positive, as the result of the match itself would be the same for the two players, so it seems to me rather logical that they would win the same monetary prize...
Joe Boronka Joe Boronka 11/23/2018 08:47
I actually think it has been a great match , Both players fight hard , trying to squeese out a win, Both Fabi and Magnus are not pulling punches and playing safe, but trying hard every time, to win their games ,, the presuure now must be fantastic on each player , so nerves will be tight , who-ever blinks first will lose ...
Joe Boronka Joe Boronka 11/23/2018 08:42
Hoping it does not go to Blitz or Rapid , I like the idea of extenting to 16 games as Carlsen suggests , more hard fought games at Classic time controls would be great for us chess enthusiasts :) (y) <3 Joseph
Pichy59 Pichy59 11/23/2018 05:43
Some people here and on the World want to see either GM Caruana or GM Carlsen win a least 1 of the 12 games, but when games are played without too many blunders it usually ends up in a draw, but that does NOT take away the fact that both played excellent chess, usually when one side win is because the other blunder or take the bait without seeing the consequences:

Copy this website and see what I mean these games are of the most high level of any World chess championship see the beauty and complication of each moves on game 10
Pichy59 Pichy59 11/23/2018 04:46
My suggestion is that if the game end up in a draw the next day they should start the same game again from move 10 but with reverse color and improve on the previous day's mistake, but if it end up in a draw the second time then a new opening should be selected and so on and on. Some people might say well you know that in the 2nd game which will start with the same opening but with reverse colors they will go home with a computer and do some home preparation, so WHAT both will have the same opportunity to make home preparation with Komodo or SF latest version.
fixpont fixpont 11/23/2018 02:13
I dont see problem in time control, the problem is, nobody has won a single game yet, so there is no winning necessity on any side therefore they are playing safely and nobody takes any risk at all. Imbalance is always good for the match.
Werewolf Werewolf 11/23/2018 01:36
Yeah let's speed up the time control so the World Chess Championship is just a blitz match. Actually let's make it bullet chess.

Then let's reduce the number of games to 4 so the public don't get bored.
RayLopez RayLopez 11/23/2018 11:29
Along the lines of what BeFreeBusy says, the match for classical should be 24 games, or, dare I say it, "first to six wins". Sadly, it seems the 2018 WCC classical format will be decided either on blitz or rapid.
psamant psamant 11/23/2018 10:15
@Eightxeight There are several chess tournaments for the general public to follow. Let the world chess championship be for people who are truly interested in chess. Because of the time available, we get to see a lot of deep diving into chess openings ... The Rossolimo and Sveshnivok here... and we see how these players evaluate middle game and end game positions. Lesser time means tactics hold sway without any deep plans.
BeFreeBusy BeFreeBusy 11/23/2018 09:50
Ah the "general public" argument. Well, who cares about it?! Chess is for chess players, while the public is rather stupid about it. There`s always tic-tac-toe.
Eightxeight Eightxeight 11/23/2018 08:26
The matches time limit needs to reduced to 40/90, for the general public the game is too slow and drawish