Carlsen flirted with danger again in game 9. At the end, he managed to hang on. There are only 3 games left white Carlsen having white in game 10 and 12. I will be doing LIVE commentary on ICC with SPICE star GM Ray Robson. I will also continue to update things LIVE right here, as well as and

Carlsen – Karjakin (game 10) LIVE!

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bg5 Anti-Berlin variation. Carlsen obviously tries to stay far away from the drawish Berlin game.

6…h6 7. Bh4 Be7 Interestingly, Carlsen does play this on the black side.

8. 0-0 d6 9. Nbd2 White has practically nothing out of this opening. There are very few games played with this line. For the ones who complain about boring drawing chess, as I said before, the players’ responsibility is to win the match. Their job is not to entertain us by playing exciting chess as much as we all love to see thrilling chess 🙂

9…Nh5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Nc4 Both 11…f5 or 11…Nf4 are OK. Black is completely fine.

11…Nf4 This is the most natural move.

12. Ne3 Preventing Bg4 while putting pressure on f5. But I think Karjakin should play 12…f5 anyway.

12…Qf6 The idea is to get the Queen to g6. This is actually more solid as Karjakin only needs to hold. He does not want to take chances. I would be quite pleased if I am on Karjakin’s team. He equalized easily. On the other hand, I would not be so thrilled if I am on Carlsen’s team. Once again, he gets nothing out of the opening. If Carlsen fails to defend his title, we can pinpoint the breaking point to game 3 and 4 which Carlsen had chances to win but failed to capitalize. Carlsen knows that he has few chances left. That’s why he’s taking his time. This is the key moment, which line to continue.

13. g3 Carlsen spent about 25 minutes for 13. g3. This is the most logical move, chasing the knight away from f4. One possibility is 13… Nh3+ 14. Kg2 Ne7 15. d4 Qg6 16. Bd3 Nf4+ 17. Kg1 exd4 18. Nxd4

13…Nh3+ 14. Kh1 The position is equal.

14…Ne7 controlling d5 square. The key question for both sides is what type of position / pawn structure they want. Both sides have possible play in the center. Black can play for Be6 followed by d5. White has no clear target. White’s problem is what is the plan? How to create some chances? I would not be so happy if I am white.

15. Bc4 I like this preventive move. But black can play 15…Be6 which would lead to a drawish position. 15…Be6 16. Bxe6 Qxe6 with the idea of f5 soon. White is not worse but the problem is he cannot allow black to simplify the position into a drawish endgame. This is like a soccer game where one side is leading by a goal with 5-10 minutes left on the clock. The leading team is just trying to pass the ball around to run out the clock 🙂 We have to give a lot of credit to Karjakin and his defensive skill. He has been playing solidly and capitalized on his opportunity timely. This match reminds me a lot of the Kasparov – Kramnik match. 15…b5 is another possibility. If 16. Bxb5 then Rb8. And after 15…b5 if 16. Bb3 then Bb7 stopping d4. Karjakin is spending around 25 minutes. What to do? 15…b5, 15…Be6 or 15…c6, Tough choice 🙂

15…c6 The most non-committal move 🙂

16. Bb3 It will come down to the nerves of the players in the final few games. The pressure will go up another notch.

16…Ng6 Ambitious looking move. Kind of strange that he did not try to trade pieces. But he is stopping Nh4 down the line.

17. Qe2 a5 Carlsen has many options: 18. d4, 18. a4, 18. Rad1. All are OK.

18. a4 Carlsen wants no part of any play on the Queenside. He wants to lock it up and play in the center / Kingside. Karjakin needs to start to worry about his clock. He has 27 minutes for over 20 moves.

18…Be6 19. Bxe6 fxe6 Now the position is pretty much drawish. Of course 20. Kg2 would be a blunder as it allows Nf4+ forking the Queen. If 20. Nd2  Nxf2+ 21. Kg2 Nh4+ 22. Kg1 Nh3+ 23. Kh1 Nf2+ 24. Kg1. Big dilemma for Carlsen. 20. Nd2 would lead to draw. But other moves would be worse for white. This is the telling moment. Will Carlsen allow draw by repetition or will Carlsen gamble for a worse position?

20. Nd2 d5 And Karjakin did not want to walk into a repetition to draw! Shocking! This is very puzzling!

21. Qh5 Carlsen forces Karjakin to take on f2 🙂 The problem is nerves can play trick on players, especially with so much at stake 🙂

21…Ng5 Perhaps Karjakin is seeing ghosts with so much pressure. He twice missed Nxf2 and played the inferior Ng5.

22. h4 Nf3 Black is slightly worse but he should be able to hold. Time will come into play soon. Karjakin is in mild time pressure.

23. Nxf3 Qxf3+ 24. Qxf3 Rxf3 25. Kg2 White has a slightly better endgame. Instead of forcing a quick draw, Karjakin will now suffer defending this endgame for hours.

25…Rf7 26. Rfe1 h5 to stop Ng4. Carlsen has about 27.5 min and Karjakin has about 15.5 min to make move 40.

27. Nf1 Kf8 Interesting that Karjakin decided to move his King to the center instead of perhaps doubling his rooks. Carlsen has to be happy now. 15 minutes ago, Karjakin could have forced a draw. Now, he can grind this endgame with no risk.

28. Nd2 Ke7 This would be psychologically devastated for Karjakin if Carlsen can squeeze out a win in this endgame. Amazing turn of event. Under normal circumstances, I think Karjakin could have found the draw easily. But with so much pressure, he saw ghosts.

29. Re2 Kd6 Even if Carlsen does not win this game, the match is not over. Karjakin’s nerves will be tested big time in the final 2 games.

30. Nf3 Raf8 31. Ng5 Re7 32. Rae1 This is a very comfortable position for white, especially when black is low on time. 

32…Rfe8 33. Nf3 Nh8 34. d4 exd4 35. Nxd4 g6 to defend f5 square.  The Minister of Defense is hard at work!

36. Re3 Nf7 Carlsen has less than 8 minutes while Karjakin has about 11 minutes.

37. e5+ Kd7 38. Rf3 Nh6 39. Rf6 Rg7 Now 40. c4 is quite nice for Carlsen.

40. b4 This is a very nice position for Carlsen. Very active position. Karjakin will suffer greatly in this endgame.

40…Ng8 Now both made time control. Karjakin will have to fight very hard to hold this game. This is Carlsen’s comfort zone.

41. cxb4 Ng8 42. Rf3 Nh6 43. a5 Nf5 44. Nb3 White’s knight is much more active. He has huge space advantage. Black has little counter play.

44…Kc7 45. Nc5 White is a lot better. But the question is will it be enough if black does not make mistakes? White’s threat is to eventually play Rb1 then b5. How to stop this?

45…Kb8 Now white can plan this 46. Rb1 Ka7 47. Rfb3 Rc7 48. R3b2 

46. Rb1 As predicted. White will shift the pressure to the Queenside. Very uncharacteristic of Karjakin to miss drawing opportunities back in move 20 & 21. If he doesn’t win this match, we know precisely why.

46…Ka7 47. Rd3 White is slowing trying to improve his position without any risk.

47…Rc7 Carlsen spent 17+ min here. He has a dilemma. He wants to open up the position but doesn’t want to change major pieces. Pieces coming off the board would mean easier hold for Karjakin.

48. Ra3 Karjakin should just be steady. 47…Rce7 is fine.

48…Nd4 49. Rd1 Karjakin should bring the knight back to f5 and not g5.

49…Nf5 50. Kh3 New idea. But Karjakin should hold tight and not open anything up.

50…Nh6 51. f3 Rf7 Karjakin is proving that he is a very stubborn defender. This is like 2 heavyweight boxers with different styles. One guy keeps on pounding but the other refuses to go down 🙂

52. Rd4 Nf5 53. Rd2 Rh7 preventing the g4 pawn push.

54. Rb3 Ree7 55. Rdd3 Rh8 56. Rb1 Rhh7? And now 57. b5 gives excellent chances to win!

57. b5 cxb5 58. Rxb5 Karjakin finally cracked in time pressure. Now Carlsen should even up the match!

58…d4 Carlsen can play 59. Rb6 and win the pawn.

59. Rb6 Rc7 60. Nxe6 Rc3 And now 51. Nf4 should be good enough to win. This is a brutal loss for Karjakin if Carlsen can convert, similar to the one Carlsen lost earlier. Now the momentum changes to Carlsen’s side.

61. Nf4 Rhc7 This is not looking good for Karjakin 62…Rxg6 should be simple.

62. Nd5 Carlsen blundered. This is a lot less lethal than 62. Rxg6

62…Rxd3 63. Nxc7 Carlsen should still be “objectively” winning but harder than the other option.

63….Kb8 The only move with chances to hold.

64. Nb5 Kc8 Again, the only move with chances to hold. In this position, Carlsen is still objectively winning. But Carlsen could have made things a lot easier.

65. Rxg6 Rxf3 The best move now is 66. Kg2

66…Kg2 Karjakin only has 1 move with chances to hold 66…Rb3

66…Rb3 67. Nd6+ Nxd6 68. Rxd6 Karjakin needs to play 68…Kc7

68…Re3? 69. e6 This is now a technical win for Carlsen

69….Kc7 70. Rxd4 Rxe6 71. Rd5 Rh6 72. Kf3 This should not be a very difficult win for Carlsen.

72…Kb8? This helps Carlsen even more. This is now hopeless.

73. Kf4 Ka7 Completely winning.

74. Kg5 Rh8 75. Kf6 1-0 The score is now 5-5!










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