LIVE Commentary for Carlsen – Karjakin Game 1. I will begin right here at 1 pm St Louis time at the SPICE Office at Webster University.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Trompovsky! Immediately Carlsen took Karjakin off book. He is basically saying let’s play chess and not with your Russian Team home prep.

2…d5 3. e3 c5 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Bb5 This seems to be a new move. Other moves include 6. c3 6. Nf3 6. a3, etc. This is causing Karjakin to pause and think. Carlsen did this to Anand as well. He likes to take his opponents outside of their home prep and comfort zone. Carlsen defeated Kramnik in 2013 at Tal Memorial when Kramnik played 5… e6. Carlsen is incredibly smart with psychology. He knows Karjakin is well prepared. So if he takes his opponent out of prep, he’ll have an edge

6….e6 7. c4 Immediately! He’s in his book while Karjakin has to think.

7…dxc4 8. Nd2 Again, Carlsen played immediately. Nothing special with this position. But Carlsen is comfortable with squeezing.

8…Bxc5 The computer is around equal but I prefer white because of Pawn structure.

9. Ngf3 0-0 White’s idea is to try to take advantage of black’s weak Kingside.

10. 0-0 Na5 11. Rc1 Black’s position is not so bad. However, it is very pleasant to play for white, especially for Carlsen’s style. This is a very important game for Karjakin. He’s the underdog. He’s never played in a WC match before. He has black in 1st game. If he can hold, it would be a big moral victory and definitely would help him calm his nerves.

11…Be7 Black’s plan is to eventually play f5 then Bf6. This game will test Karjakin’s defensive ability. In spite of spending over 10 minutes on this move, Carlsen is still way ahead on the clock. Objectively, the game is equal.


Analyzing Carlsen – Karjakin game LIVE with Webster U start Magnus Carlsen

12. Qc2 After spending a lot of time, Carlsen chose to avoid trading Queens. It’s clear white is trying to keep the game alive.

12…Bd7 If 13. Bxd7 Qxd7 14. Nxc4 Rc8 15. Qe2 Nxc4 16. Rxc4 Rxc4 17. Qc4 Rc8 =

13. Bxc7 Qxc7 If  14. Qc3 b6 15. Ne4 =

14. Qc3 Carlsen is aiming for N v B endgame but this move provokes black to play b6. Carlsen also threatens Ne4. Just because the game looks drawish, it does not mean that it will be a draw. White has plenty of play against the weak f6 pawn.

14…Qd5 Black did not want to allow white to play Ne4 to attack f6. Now white can play 15. Nxc4 Nxc4 16. Rfd1 gaining a tempo to put both Rooks on the open files.

15. Nxc4 Nxc4 16. Qxc4 Qxc4 17. Rxc4 Rfc8 18. Rfc1 Rxc4 19. Rxc4 Position is equal. But of course white is very comfortable.

19…Rd8 Now white should play 20. g4 to prevent f5. I am afraid this will be a long squeezing endgame a la Carlsen style

20. g3 Very surprising. I felt g4 is slightly stronger. But white still maintains a small squeezing edge.

20…Rd7 protecting the weak 7th rank.

21. Kf1 f5 22. Ke2 Bf6 23. b3 White’s plan is Ne1, Nd3, Nc5

23…Kf8 Many GMs would call it a day with this drawish position. But Carlsen enjoys this little cat and mouse game. It’s a challenge for him.

24. h3 Karjakin MUST hold this drawish position no matter how annoying it is. If he loses this position the match is over mentally.

24…h6 White may consider 25. g4 to clear the f5 pawn / e4 square for his Knight.

25. Ne1 Ke7 Karjakin is still playing solidly. He’s happy with a draw. It’s up to Carlsen to push if he wants to try to win.

26. Nd3 Kd8 27. f4 h5 I do not see much for Carlsen here. Karjakin is too solid. After 13-14 minutes, Carlsen still can’t find anything. Maybe because there’s not much in this position?

28. a4 The question for Karjakin is does he want the Rooks off the board or on? I would want Rooks on the board, easier hold.

28… Rd5 Karjakin correctly keeps his Rook. Even he draws this game, which is very likely, he should get the message that Carlsen is willing, ready, and able to grind out every position. It’s like trying to squeeze water out of a rock, but he has done it successfully many times before 🙂

29. Nc5 b6 30. Na6 Pure Cat and Mouse psychological ploy by Carlsen. He wants his opponent to constantly worry about what’s coming next.

30…Be7 Interesting decision by Karjakin. He is allowing 31. Nb8 forcing the trade of Knight for Bishop and slightly better R & Ps endgame. Most likely not enough to convert but this will change the dynamic of this endgame.

31. Nb8 a5 This is Carlsen’s chance to trade. Otherwise, after Bc5, white has nothing. For the first time in this game, Carlsen is behind on time. He has to decide to trade or not to trade. Not an easy decision.

32. Nc6+ Ke8 Trading Knight for Bishop will likely lead to draw. So if Carlsen wants any chance, even 0.1%, he must keep pieces. Even with that, I cannot imagine that Karjakin can lose this game.

33. Ne5 He is keeping his Knight. But now Karjakin can play Bc5 – Solid!

33…Bc5 I do not see anything for white. Carlsen can try to trade Rooks with Rc3 then Rd3 but I am not sure if he is better in this case.

34. Rc3 Ke7 35. Rd3 Rxd3 36. Kxd3 f6 Still an equal endgame.

37. Nc6+ Ke6 38. Nd4 Karjakin should NOT trade his Bishop here.

38…Kd5 39. Nb5 Kc6 Still nothing here.

40. Nd4+ The question here is will the two players repeat moves?

40…Kd6 The answer is inexplicably no from Karjakin. He deviated 🙂

41. Nb5+ Kd7 Once again, Karjakin deviated and refused to repeat! 🙂

42. Nd4 Kd6 1/2 Finally, draw 🙂 This is a good start by Karjakin, drawing with black in his first ever WC game. Well done! Carlsen cannot possibly be happy with a draw with white. But he still has 11 more games to make a statement.


The World Chess Championship Match 2016, held from 11 to 30 November, will be contested by 25 year old reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and his challenger, 26 year old Sergey Karjakin of Russia — and this is the first time that two players who have come of age in the computer era are fighting for the title and represent a generational shift in chess.

The contest consists of 12 games, with every move avidly followed and analyzed by a global audience of hundreds of millions of chess fans. To win, a player must reach a score of 6.5 points. After 12 rounds, if the score is even, there will be tie-breaks.

Tags: , ,