2016 World Chess Championship: Game #7

Game 7: Draw… Fischer’s ghost stirring

Today was another short game, but the players granted a longer press conference. Some of the questions asked have been rather off-putting, but today packed room enjoyed a bit of levity and good cheer from the players. Perhaps this is an effort to stay loose for what will be an unbearably intense “five-round match.” The tension is mounting and it is likened to a spring tightening. The result today could not avoid the increasing number of jokes about draws in chess.

Video by ChessBase.

An even match increases Karjakin’s chances with each draw, but the fact that Carlsen continues to win theoretical battles must bode well for the champion. However, he missed an opportunity. The game began with 1.d4 as Fischer’s ghost rustled in Iceland. A change to 1.d4 occurred in Game 9 of Anand-Carlsen when Anand was behind two points. Fortunes did not change and the Indian legend lost his title that he had held for five years. Karjakin also changed but under much different circumstances.

It appears that the Russian team has not out-prepared the champion in the first six games and was seeking a change, but this game would be no different. In fact, Karjakin admitted to not knowing the theory very well, but decided to opt for a rather innocuous line against the Chebanenko Slav. In fact, Swedish Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp-Persson annotated this game for ChessBase and delved into the minutiae of the opening with the conclusion that white got nothing from the opening. Then a bit of drama unfolded.

Carlsen bolted forward with 14…Nb4! and Karjakin countered with 15.Bf3! showing that he was unafraid of the pending complications. Carlsen calmly castled here when commentators suggested the energetic 15…f5!

As is common in chess, one misses an opportunity and the other seizes… 16.Ba3! At this point, white was trying to ensure he didn’t yield to black’s pressure. Actually it was Carlsen who had a moment of inattention on 16…Rc8? when Karjakin banged out 17.Nf6+! winning a pawn. However, this series of exchanges gave white little chances of winning after 22…b4 and after ten more moves, a draw was agreed. Teimour Radjabov weighed in on the “subplot”… Carlsen was playing reverse psychology.

Maybe not, but Carlsen is happy to draw this game and no doubt likes his chances with three white games out of the next five. Both players seem to be in cheerful moods. However, the tension is certainly building and everyone around the world is waiting patiently for the first win… a win that could conceivably decide the match.

Perhaps some of the most interesting parts of the match are the guests on the show. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gave us the long awaited answer to a question every chess player wants to know… how many possible chess games exist? Easy… 102500! That is impressive when considering that the number of atoms in the universe are 1080. Tyson mentioned that after the last atom is counted then the only thing left to count is events! Interesting. Marking time. However… however… we are only playing one of the 960 positions of chess, so what must the number be then, Dr. Tyson???

Video by ChessBase.

Notes by GM Amon Simutowe (The Chess Drum); PDF download

Video by Daniel King.

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