24 November 2016

Game 9 of Carlsen-Karjakin Match Ends in a Draw

The score is 5-4 in Sergey Karjakin's favor.

The World Championship match resumed after a rest day. The challenger had White in the 9th game, and returned to his favorite 1.е2-е4. The champion was true to his Ruy Lopez, but opted for a different line – the Archangelsk Variation. This is one of the most modern branches of the Ruy Lopez theory, which was initially considered very double-edged, but has been studied very deeply and tested in practice extensively, so no wonder the players were making their opening moves quite fast. 

Soon they ended up in a typical position – White had an extra pawn and the bishop pair, however, his pawn structure was compromised, thus giving Black good drawing chances. The game entered a slow maneuvering phase, during which both players tried to improve their pieces and disrupt harmony of the opponent's setup. Carlsen got into the time trouble, and made a careless knight retreat on the move 38, giving Karjakin a couple of tempting options. After a lengthy thought, Karjakin opted for the most solid one, with zero losing chances and slight winning chances. Another move was perhaps even more promising, but it could give Black potentially dangerous counterplay. 

Soon after the control move a queen and bishop ending with an extra pawn to White arose. Soon it turned out that trading the queens favors Black, as the resulting bishop ending is drawn. White needed to trade the bishops, but there was no way to achieve that if Black does not cooperate. Karjakin kept trying for almost 30 moves more, but Carlsen remained unperturbed. 

After 9 games out of 12 the score is 5-4 in Karjakin's favor. Game 10 is played on Thursday, November 24. Magnus Carlsen plays White.  

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Photos by Vladimir Barsky