Carlsen closes on retaining world chess crown after Nepomniachtchi draw

Carlsen closes on retaining world chess crown after Nepomniachtchi draw

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Norwegian Magnus Carlsen moved closer to the successful fourth defense of his world championship on Wednesday, playing a calm 41-stroke draw with Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi in Game 10 of their Dubai showdown and maintaining his three-point lead with four scheduled matches remaining.

Less than 24 hours after Nepomniachtchi messed up elementary tactics and made an extraordinary blunder from a promising position to effectively seal his destiny in the Top 14 game, the challenger seemed ready to settle for a peaceful result before the Thursday’s rest day before making one. final push.

Carlsen, 31, playing in white, started with 1 e4. But swirling hopes that Nepomniachtchi would go bankrupt quickly died off when he played in Petrov Defense (1… e5 2 Nf3 Nf6), the same solid but drawless opening he opted for in Sunday’s ill-fated eighth game.

“Frankly, I didn’t think he would play Petrov at all today,” Carlsen said afterwards. “I was preparing for various sharp openings that he could play. The thought was if he goes 1. e5, I’ll see. I didn’t think that a draw against the Petrovs would be a major problem.

After 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nd3, Carlsen captured White’s electronic pawn (4… Nxe4) to extend the same line he had played in the epic sixth game of the 2018 world title match against American Fabiano Caruana, who ‘he almost lost. The players stayed on familiar ground (5 De2 De7 6 Nf4 Nf6 7 d4) until Nepomniachtchi made the first new move (7… Nc6), something Carlsen spent almost 20 minutes considering.

Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi in the 10th game. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images

“It was a little surprising because I thought this move order wasn’t supposed to be that good,” Carlsen said. “But I guess you have to play Bb3 to try and do something about it and I wasn’t in the mood for that.” ”

Shortly after Carlsen sidestepped more ambitious options for the natural 8 c3, the ladies came out of the board (10 Qxe2 + 11 Bxe2) before the position quickly eased with more material swaps. Carlsen said he thought he was slightly better after 17g3, but was more than happy to settle for the half point after 2 hours 5 minutes, the shortest encounter of the game so far.

“I think if I had played a little more patient there, I could have had the smaller edges, but naturally I would have researched that more diligently if the situation of the match had been different,” said Carlsen said. Nepomniachtchi, 31, defended her placid opening choice, saying: “Even if you play a so-called strong opening like the Sicilian, if white wants to stop it, white will surely stop it. It is not realistic. I have a few tries with the white pieces in the remaining four games. Of course, it depends on what I produce in the 11th game. But today it was just an idea to play a normal game, try not to spoil anything in my movements.

Carlsen leads 6½-3½ in the € 2million ($ 2.26million) game at the Dubai Exposition Center ahead of Thursday’s rest day. Debates will resume on Friday with Nepomniachtchi collecting the white pieces.

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