World Championship Game 10: Safety first

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/8/2021 – An uneventful draw in game 10 of the World Championship match kept Magnus Carlsen’s 3-point lead going into the fourth rest day of the contest. The defending champion only needs to score 1 point in the remaining 4 encounters to keep his crown. | Photo: Niki Riga

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Damage limitation

Full expert analysis of the game will be published shortly on our news site. Game 9 will be annotated by Filipino-born American grandmaster Wesley So!

A 41-move draw with little to no excitement was the result of game 10 at the World Championship match in Dubai. Ian Nepomniachtchi, down 3 points on the scoreboard, shied away from going all-in with the black pieces after painful blunders in back-to-back games. He now needs to score 3½ points in the remaining 4 games to take the match to rapid and blitz playoffs.

After the short day at the office, Magnus Carlsen described his rival’s approach as one focused on “damage limitation”. Instead of playing the Sicilian or an aggressive setup in the Caro-Kann, Nepo once again chose the Petroff Defence. The Russian, who was clearly ‘tilted’ in the previous two encounters, decided either to eliminate any ambitions he had in the match or prepare something special for the games following Thursday’s rest day.

The contenders went through the motions until move 41, as they could not agree to a draw before the first time control. A completely symmetrical pawn structure was left on the board, with a king and a knight per side fully unable to create any problems for the opponent.



Magnus Carlsen

World champion Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Niki Riga

The match is practically over, and apparently we already saw the most exciting part of the much-anticipated confrontation up until game 9. It is time to assess what went on in Dubai, and we will surely see a number of interviews and analyses by world-class players and commentators once the match is over.

For now, we have an excellent clip produced by ChessBase India’s Sagar Shah, who interviewed multiple world champion Vishy Anand. The ‘Tiger from Madras’ has all the experience in the world about this subject, and referred to Nepo’s collapse using examples from his own World Championship matches:

Basically, it was a complete loss of control. When you have a disastrous game, logically, you will say ‘losing two games is not gonna make me feel better, what has happened has happened, let us move on’. That’s what you’re supposed to do, that’s what most people think will happen. But under the strain and pressure, what very often unfortunately happens is that you make the problem even worse for yourself — you lose one more, in this case it was two more.

And somehow you can’t stop because then you go back home and you know you should be trying to find some hope, but you don’t believe in it, so then you get angry.

I felt something similar in Chennai. I lost games 5 and 6, and luckily I made two draws. You know, what to do? Not rushing anything. But then I managed to prepare something nice, I got an advantage in game 9, and unfortunately I lost it. [...] At least, games 9 and 10 I played at some level. The problem is when you make a move like [Nepo’s] 27...c5, you don’t even know what to tell yourself any more.

The champion and the challenger will get a rest day on Thursday. The whole match could come to an end on Friday, as a win for Carlsen would secure him overall victory with a score of 7½ points.

All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/9/2021 12:51
I'm not a Russian, but as a spectator I would have welcomed more games. However, to be fair, 14 games is already an improvement in comparison to 12.
turok turok 12/9/2021 06:14
Fischer made a huge blunder-he came back so it can be done but this challenger was never capable od dealing with the champion even tho he got the chance-
rakerchess rakerchess 12/9/2021 03:16
The Beast (Fat Fritz 2 running on 48 cores) had no significant comments to the 10th Game.
Equality all the way from moves 1 - 41.

Carlsen's 4 Nd3= is unusual, but the main line 4 Nf3 Ne4 5 d4 d5= is also equal.
Carlsen's 8 c3= was slightly passive, but the alternative 8 Be3 Bf5 9 Nc3 0-0-0 10 0-0-0 d5= is also equal.
Nepo's 8....d5= was also slightly passive, but the alternative 8....g5 9 Qe7+ Ne7 10 Ne2 h6= is also equal.

It looks like Carlsen wants to draw all further games, coasting on his +3 lead, until he successfully defends his title. He's always been very pragmatic.

Nepo showed no ambition whatsoever, like in so many of his previous games (especially as White), so that one wonders what he's actually doing at the table.
jbdreher jbdreher 12/9/2021 02:27
Typo in the headline: "Wolrd Championship Game 10: Safety First"

"Wolrd" should be spelled "World".

Thank you for your excellent coverage and analysis of all things chess.
Aighearach Aighearach 12/9/2021 02:25
Why should losing a game in a World Championship match not be really bad news? Why should there be extra chances to recover, beyond the numerous games that they already have?

I understand Russians want to see a Russian win, but longer matches reduces interest and results in smaller prize funds because of the additional production costs with no additional revenues.

First the complainers say they want a longer match to reduce the chance of tie-breaks, then the complainers say they want a longer match to reduce the value of a win! LOL
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 12/9/2021 02:12
The matches need to be 24 games. The level of excitement of the matches seems to be directly proportional to the length of the match up to 24. There was never a dull match at 24, I can attest to that starting at Spassky-Petrosian 1966.
melante melante 12/9/2021 01:59
24 games matches gave us epic struggles that will always be remembered because players do have a chance to bounce back. 12 games matches gave us 100% draw games that have already been forgotten.
I am for longer matches too, but the modern world is afflicted by such a short attention span that even a 5 minutes blitz game seems long today so this is a hopeless battle, unfortunately.
SEAL6 SEAL6 12/9/2021 12:13
14-game is enough. Of course there is always improvements everytime a World Championship Match happens but a 24-game match is no longer necessary and practical. The key is to treat every game as if it is the first, last and only game in the match so that true quality for every game follows. A longer match than 14-game only makes the course like the 1-5 games as pedestal or testing ground whereas a shorter match (14-game) will extract every qualities of the players. Either blame the players if they make dull games out of 14 or blame yourself without understanding the players.
KIva78 KIva78 12/8/2021 10:44
There is an argument for a longer match. In a short match one decisive result can make it very, very difficult for the challenger to come back. Play is also correspondingly more risk-averse. Both players were trying, especially in game 6, but that effectively decided the match.
I'm not sure what the argument against a 24 game (or even 18 game) match is. "It could take two months"? Okay, so what? They're professional players, all they're going to do anyway is play more blitz and then go to another tournament. It would be a fair test, but of course there shouldn't be games played on three consecutive days.
The press conferences could be improved as well, some of the questions are just moronic.
Theochessman Theochessman 12/8/2021 07:59
Haha, Anand knows pretty well how it feels for Nepo.