Game 8 is in the books! Caruana opened with 1. e4 and Mangus replied with the Sicilian defense playing ... c5. The players were making moves very quickly for the first ten moves. Then Caruana played a novelty which slowed Magnus down. Caruana continued to play at a fast pace, which seemed to indicate his excellent preparation. Later Magnus played an aggressive, but risky move which eventually led to a significant advantage for Caruana. It looked the American might draw first blood in this match!!! But on move 24, Caruana played an inaccuracy which let Magnus off the hook. After 38 moves, the players agreed to a Draw.
“Some minor disappointment,” Caruana said when asked to assess his emotions after the match. “I thought at some point I had a very promising position. I didn’t quite see exactly which moment I had something very good.”
Says a relieved Carlsen: “This was a tough game. He was the one who had all the chances. So I am happy to have survived it for sure.”
This was a tough Draw for Caruana. A win with just 4 games remaining would've put him in the driver's seat for the World Championship. Interestingly, in 2016 after 7 draws, Magnus lost Game 8, only to come back and win 1 of the final 4 games and send it tie-breaks... which he won quite easily.
There will be day of rest tomorrow and the match resumes Wednesday.
Game 7 is in the books! For the second half of the match, the players switch colors so Magnus played white again and opened with 1. d4. Caruana replied with the Indian Defense playing ... Nf6. The first nine moves mirrored Game 2. Magnus pressed, but couldn't create any significant advantage and Carauana was able to liquidate most of the pieces and simplify the position. After 40 moves, the players agreed to a Draw.
“I could have played much more ambitiously,” Carlsen lamented.
The past two games were a big hurdle for Caruana as Magnus had White back-to-back along with a day of rest in between. Caruana weathered the storm and has to be feeling confident about his chances. However, if it remains tied after 12 games the match switches to rapid time format and Magnus is incredibly good in at that, while Caruana has struggled in recent rapid tournaments. He needs a win to avoid the tie-break. Game 8 starts tomorrow.
Game 6 is in the books! Magnus opened with 1. e4. Some didn't think Magnus would ever play that opening in this match because it's known to be Caruana's strong suit. Others said Magnus was afraid of being called a chicken if he didn't. Well he did. Caruana responded with ... e5 and after the next moves the Petrov Defense was officially in action.
The game remained fairly steady for the next 35 moves, but Magnus was having trouble maintaining equality (let alone find an advantage) and went into long think tanks. By move 41 Caruana had achieved a slight advantage and 10+ moves later his advantage grew even more. Magnus was in a bit of trouble and you could see the pain in face. However, the reigning champ was able to find damn near perfect moves in order to salvage the Draw after 80 moves.
Interestingly if Magnus had lost, Caruana would've officially taken over the No. 1 Elo ranking.... a position Magnus has held since 2011.
“I was just way too casual,” says Carlsen when asked to explain Friday’s near-upset.
There will be a day of rest tomorrow with the match resuming Sunday. Magnus will start the second half of the match with white.
Game 5 is in the books! Caruana opened with 1. e4. and Magnus responded with the Sicilian Defense playing ...c5 (same as Game 1).
On move 6 Caruana played a shocking/highly aggressive move 6. b4 offering a pawn sacrifice with the hope of creating pressure and confusion. Magnus accepted the sacrifice, but was able to weather to storm and white's advantage never materialized. The game ended in a Draw after 34 moves.
“Well, this line is really interesting and if black is cooperative it can get very exciting,” Caruana said. “But Magnus knew the line quite well and I think played in a very logical way.”
The match resumes tomorrow with the score tied 2.5 - 2.5.