World Championship Game 3: "I guess it's deadlocked"

by Macauley Peterson
11/13/2018 – 12.11.2018 - After the first rest day, the third match game of the World Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana was played and, as in game one, Caruana opted for the Rossolimo variation in the Sicilian. The Challenger did not have any problems this time but neither could he gain much in the way of advantage. “I feel there are some encouraging signs but so far neither of us has anything to show for the games", the World Champion remarked after the game. Star analysis by GMs JAN-KRZYSZTOF DUDA and YANNICK PELLETIER. | Photo: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess

Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen

Let endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller show and explain the finesses of the world champions. Although they had different styles each and every one of them played the endgame exceptionally well, so take the opportunity to enjoy and learn from some of the best endgames in the history of chess.


A finely balanced draw

In advance of Game 3, a thunderstorm moved through central London, dumping rain and making quite a racket. But the weather proved not to presage any evident storms on the board.

Caruana showed he wasn’t averse to going for 1.e4 again and Carlsen was equally principled in following the script of Game 1 as well, by playing 1…c5 and 2.Nc6 inviting a repeat of the Rossolimo: 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bg7.

But unlike in the first match game, and the predecessor game between the two players from 2015, Fabiano opted to hold back his h3 pawn on his sixth move and instead castled 6.O-O. Magnus quickly played 6...Qc7, a rare sideline not seen before at the GM level. 


"I played [7.]Re1 because looked logical and it felt like a few moves later I have a very pleasant position", said the Challenger after the game. "I just made one really bad move when I played [15.]Bd2.

Caruana has settled into the match, but winning chances are elusive | Photo: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess


I wanted to take [15.Rxa5 Qxa5] play [16.]Bd2 Qc7 is forced, [17.]Qa1 Nd7 [18.]Qa7", he rattled off. "I was going to take on a5 and I thought, 'why not first play Bd2 and get the same position?'”

Caruana called this misstep, "just a bit of a blackout”, but it signalled the moment when he gave his initiative away.

When Magnus was asked whether he was satisfied with the course of the opening he said simply and deliberately, “nope” — sort of popping the 'p' in the process. 

For a while, the game looked to be heading for a relatively early draw, but in the endgame, it was Black who could press a bit, as Caruana explained:

“I thought this ending would be equal when I went into it but then I couldn’t really see what to do and I realised I kind of have to sit and wait. I mean it’s very very drawish, it should be a draw in many ways.”

No draws were offered, but the players shook hands after 49 moves and about four hours of play.

Game 3 evaluation

ChessBase 15 evaluation profile

Magnus Carlsen says he's "not bored" but that the match is deadlocked | Photo: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess

GM Daniel King takes a closer look at the ending in his daily summary:

Game 3 annotated by Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Today we have seen yet another Rossolimo Sicilian, where Magnus gradually equalised, and even tried to take over in the endgame. Caruana managed to draw with ease though. I am interested if in case of another 2...Nc6 Sicilian, Caruana will play 3.d4!? Or perhaps he will switch to another opening? The future will tell, but before reaching it, tomorrow he has to defend with Black first.


Game 3 Round-up show

GM Yannick Pelletier has analysed the first three games

Match standings

The winner is the first player to 6½ up to a maximum of 12 games.


All games



Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/14/2018 07:27
@ benedictralph: In fact, about the ratings, this is quite clear-cut: in the "classical games part", if one player wins the match, he will be World N° 1; if the "classical games part" is drawn, Carlsen stays World N° 1 (in practice, some sort of a "draw-odds to the World N° 1"). Which makes the match even more interesting, because it is not only the World Crown which is at stakes; a loss in the "classical games part" for Carlsen would also mean that, for the first time in seven years, he would lose his World N° 1 status...
Thomas Richter Thomas Richter 11/13/2018 11:32
benedictralph probably wonders about the effect of a lower-rated player gaining Elo from a draw. It exists but is minor: for a rating difference of 10 points, the lower-rated player gains 0.1 points with each draw, and would thus overtake the higher-rated player after 101 draws (not possible in one month, i.e. before official ratings are updated). As Carlsen and Caruana are separated by just 3 points, both ratings remain unchanged.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/13/2018 09:23
@benedictralph, impossible for Caruana to overtake Carlsen in rating after a set of draws, because Carlsen had the higher rating pre-match.
JackCrabb JackCrabb 11/13/2018 01:16
Dear Fabiano,

I'm craving for seeing you on the throne;
so, please, please, not another bloodless, boring Rossolimo !
benedictralph benedictralph 11/13/2018 09:19
With all these draws is Caruana now, in terms of live rating, equal or higher than Carlsen?
malfa malfa 11/13/2018 08:48
I agree that 48.Nxc4 is a move of no transcendental nature, yet it definitely deserves an exclamation mark, since it looks like it is the simplest, quickest and most precise way to force the draw. That said, the whole game is nothing to write home about, especially on Fabiano's side.
Karbuncle Karbuncle 11/13/2018 08:13
Not sure if move 48 deserves an exclamation point. Anyone with basic endgame knowledge knows black's bishop is 'on the wrong color'. That's why the draw was agreed immediately.