World Championship: Game 4 drawn amid 'videogate'

by Macauley Peterson
11/14/2018 – The fourth game of the World Chess Championship in London between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana also ended without a winner. With White, the World Champion did not get anything out of the English opening and on the 34th move, he offered to draw. That left spectators pondering over the potential ramifications of a video promoting Caruana which may have inadvertently provided the Carlsen camp with insights into the Challenger's opening preparation. | Pictured: Ellisiv Reppen makes the ceremonial first move for Carlsen | Photos: Nadia Panteleeva / World Chess

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Match tied at 2 points apiece

In the first three games of this World Championship match, White has been unable to prove much whether it be Carlsen or Caruana making the first move. Caruana was in a losing position in Game 1, then Carlsen was a bit worse in Game 2's Queen's Gambit, and the third game micro-advantage Caruana got with the white piece in his repeat of the Rossolimo evaporated by the endgame. Each time the point was shared.

Magnus was the first to arrive to Game 4. He sat down at the board and meticulously filled out his scoresheet before leaving in the direction of the players' rest area — which is shared between the competitors — adjacent to the stage and guarded 24/7 by security. There one can find two small grey couches, two small white refrigerators and a snack table.

Fabiano soon arrived, took his place on the black side of the table and cracked open a bottle of still Isklar water (Magnus prefers sparkling).

Carlsen and Caruana handshake

The players have been shaking hands on mutual arrival and at the start and end of the games | Photo: Macauley Peterson

Ellisiv Reppen was invited to make the first move. She has a popular Norwegian chess book for children that came out in 2014 and was translated to English in 2016 under the title Be the King! She’s also the partner of Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson, who’s thought to be reprising his role as an opening analyst on Team Carlsen during the match.

Game 4 video summary

GM Daniel King provides a 5-minute look at the main events of the day:

Petroff, QGD and Fianchetto Grunfeld oh my!

Speaking of openings, Carlsen and his squad of seconds may have gotten an unexpected gift on Tuesday morning, when a video clip providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a Caruana training camp was noticed to contain a potentially sensitive list of games in a ChessBase window, including opening files.

If real, this could potentially disrupt the game plan of the Caruana team by revealing their areas of focus in the opening. There are a few reasons to suspect that this was indeed an accidental slip-up, rather than a "hoax" or disinformation.

  1. The screen was innocuous enough to the untrained eye to have been overlooked
  2. The video was promptly removed from YouTube as soon as the presumably-damaging frames were publicised through Twitter
  3. Caruana's demeanour at the press conference, when asked about the video, was one of sincere annoyance (though this one is subjective, and unfortunately it was not captured on camera by the official webcast's camera operator)

(We contacted three people affiliated with the Saint Louis Chess Club or the Caruana team in an effort to confirm the video's contents, but did not receive a response.) 

On the other hand, maybe it's no big deal:

GM Miguel Illescas Vladimir Kramnik's second in his 2000 World Championship match

It's worth noting that PlayMagnus promoted a similar video in advance of the match, but this one had elements selectively obfuscated to avoid the possibility of damaging information becoming public.

Another day another draw

In the game, Carlsen had to carry the "burden" of white pieces again, although he would later say that he regards the difficulty he and his challenger have had with white as a bit of a fluke.

Grandmaster Alex Colovic made several bold predictions in advance of the match, one of which was that he expected "to see Carlsen start the match with something he won’t play afterwards". Several other predictions have been wrong (e.g. he figured Carlsen would play both 1.e4 as White and 1...e5 as Black in response to 1.e4), but this one, at least for a day holds up.

The World Champion opened with 1.c4, the first time we have seen an English Opening in the match. Caruana answered 1...e5 and there followed a kind of Sicilian Defence with reversed colours.

Carlsen brought out the English Opening in London


In the past, Black's dark-squared bishop used to go to e7 almost automatically but then, last year, Alexander Grischuk was the first player from the world's elite who came up with the idea that the bishop could be developed to c5 analogous to the Sozin variation. Since then, this idea has gained traction, and with its appearance in a World Championship match, that's likely to continue.

This would not have surprised Carlsen, considering Caruana has already developed in this way in prior games, notably in June of this year in a game against Wesley So in Paris which the players followed until move 11.b4. As is common in the Sicilian, Carlsen pursued a minority attack by advancing his queenside pawns, but after a queen trade, the game then flatlined quite fast leading Carlsen to offer a draw after his 34th move. 

No problems in a reversed Sicilian

Game 4 press conference

Analysis of Game 4 by GM Michael Adams

Look for more detailed analysis from GM Adams in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine!

Match standings


Round-up shows

All games of the match


Andre Schulz contributed reporting


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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