2021 World Chess Championship: Game #8

2021 World Chess Championship
Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
Game 8
Match Score: 5-3
Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

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2021 World Chess Championship: Game 8
Sunday, 5 December 2021

Carlsen strikes again… Nepomniachtchi at the brink

There was a debate on how quickly Ian Nepomniachtchi would attempt to strike back after the devastating loss in Game 6. After a rather tranquil draw in Game 7 of the World Chess Championship in Dubai, the next game was a Petroff with a twist. Nepo’s …h5, …Rh6 maneuver seemed like a kamikaze attack brewing, but it turned out to be a “nothing burger.” At the least, the game would end in another quiet draw.

Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (after 14.Rh6)

Magnus Carlsen talked about his willingness to trade down after 10…Qe7, but the Russian went for 10…Kf8 in order to keep the tension. After 11.Bb4! now white was fighting to keep an edge after 11…Qe7 12.Bxd6 Qxd6. With black’s rooks now disconnected, white seized on the clumsiness of 14…Rh6 with 15.Qg5! Now the rook could not leave the h5-pawn and on 15…f6, the rook’s scope would be limited.

Carlsen continued to probe then finally broke with 20.c4! The exclamation point is for the fact that this was a timely transition of a somewhat closed game into one with immediate tactical possibilities. Almost immediately Nepo failed to make the transition. After 20…dxc4 21.Bxd4, Nepo belted out 21…b5?? Fans and commentators spotted it quickly.

Carlsen continued 22.Qa3+ Kg8 23.Qxa7 white attack the bishop on d7. Black could donate the bishop with 22…Bxh3, but after 23.Qxf7+ the queens come off after 23…Qxf7 24.Re8+ Kh7 25.Bxf7 and black is significantly worse. Black opted for 23…Qd8, but after 25.Re4 the pieces are overloaded.

Nepo was forced to trade down to free his position and it resulted in a queen ending with a wretched pawn structure. The queen would be overloaded in defending the pawns so he looked to harass the white king. Carlsen gobbled a couple of more pawns, centralized the queen and without any drawing tricks, Nepo resigned on move 46. To his credit, Nepo was very gracious in the press conference.

Video by FIDE

Game #8 (Annotations by GM Anish Giri for ChessBase)

Video by GM Daniel King

Video by FIDE

Video by chess.com

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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