Bd4. For a moment there Carlsen was poised to become the first champion to win Game 1 of a world title match as black in 37 years, when Anatoly Karpov defeated Viktor Korchno in the opener of their rematch in Merano, Italy. Now a draw appears far more ...
On they go past the six-and-a-half-hour mark. A few more moves but no real progress. Here’s what the board looks like.
With nine pieces left on the board, it appears Game 1 of the world chess championship is petering out to a draw despite Magnus Carlsen’s best intentions. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018, Game 1 (after 88 moves)
To be clear only black can win from here, but Caruana is not going to accommodate with the mistake that Carlsen requires to pull it from the bag. The latest sequence of moves amounts to little more than poking and prodding by Carlsen – 79. Kb2 Rg3 80. Kc2 Rg5 81. Rh6 Rd5 82. Kc3 Rd6 83. Rh8 Rg6 84. Kc2 Kb7 85. Kc3 Rg3+ – but Caruana should comfortably hold with neither player under time pressure. Still, the champion is making him earn this half-point and both players will no doubt be tired for tomorrow’s Game 2.
No real path to victory for either player after the last few moves (76. Kb2 Ra4 77. Kc3 a6 78. Rh8 Ra3+). The only way black could pull this from the bag is if Caruana complies with a blunder.
A good spell of action over the last 20 minutes. We clearly appear bound for a draw, but Carlsen doesn’t appear ready to step away without grinding Caruana a bit further. As those familiar with the Norwegian’s career are aware, he’s accustomed to marathons like these.
We’re nearing the end of Game 1 as the match approaches the six-hour mark. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
No time issues for either contestant after 55 moves. The computers still indicate a slight advantage for black after 47. ... Rf8 48. e7 Re8 49. Nh6 h3 50. Nf5 Bf6 51. a3 b5 52. b4 cxb4 53. axb4 Bxe7 54. Nxe7 h2 55. Rxh2 Rxe7.
Predictably, the pace has slowed thanks to the time control after move 40. Caruana goes with (42. Qf7+) and Carlsen answers (42. ... Ka6), then an exchange of queens initiated by the the American (43. Qxg7 Rxg7), which no doubt will shorten the match and likely gives Caruana a better opportunity to hold. And on they go: 44. Re2 Rg3 45. Ng4 Rxh3 47. e6 Rf8. Now Caruana quickly plays 48. e7, opening a line that appeared headed for a draw.
Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen appear headed for a draw after a gripping opener to their world championship match. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
Spared a time crunch for the first time in hours, Caruana takes his time with 41. Qxf4 before a frustrated Carlsen answers with 41. ... Bd4. For a moment there Carlsen was poised to become the first champion to win Game 1 of a world title match as black in 37 years, when Anatoly Karpov defeated Viktor Korchno in the opener of their rematch in Merano, Italy. Now a draw appears far more likely, but it won’t come quickly. Strap in as this could be a long endgame.
Carlsen blunders with 40. ... Bxc3
What a turn of events! As time bears down on both players (38. c3 Be5 39. Kc2 Qg7), Caruana makes his 40th move (40. Nh2) with three seconds on the clock, giving him the desperately needed 50 minutes of extra time. But Carlsen’s response (40. ... Bxc3) lets his opponent off the hook! The look on the champion’s face says it all as he shakes his head in disappointment.
Another flurry of moves with 34. Nh2 h5 35. Rf2 Qg1 36. Nf1 h4 37. Kd2 Kb7. Caruana comes dangerously close to losing on time (again) but comes up with 38. c3 to give himself a bit of breathing room. Only two more moves until the much-needed added time, but the time pressure has allowed Carlsen to open a significant positional advantage.
The grandmaster Susan Polgar is no fan of 36. ... h4, calling it the sort of inaccuracy that Carlsen did not make when he was at his peak.
Caruana goes with 33. Ke2 and Carlsen with 33. ... Qg5. The American is inside a minute ... 50 seconds ... 40 seconds ... 30 seconds ... 20 seconds ... 10 seconds! We’re on the edge of our seats! At last Caruana pulls a knight into retreat (34. Nh2), but it reeks of desperation. Carlsen with more than 17 minutes and content to take his time with his opponent in survival mode. The computer analysis shows a clear advantage for Carlsen. Barring a blunder, he’s going to win the opening game of the world championship as black.
Squeaky-bum time for Caruana after another back-and-forth exchange (29. Nf2 Rg8 30. Ng4 Qe8 31. Qf3 Qxh5 32. Kf2). The American will have 2min 26sec to make eight moves, though he receives an extra 30 seconds with each move. White’s king looking a bit vulnerable at the moment.
Another relative flurry of moves (26. ... Rhg8 27. Qe2 Rxg2+ 28. Qxg2). Carlsen continues to press the time advantage. Here’s a look at the board.
Time continues to work against Fabiano Caruana as Magnus Carlsen looks to open the world championship match with a win as black. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
The moves are coming more quickly (23. Nh5 Bxh5 24. gxh5 Nf4). A bit of a head-scratching sequence of moves for Carlsen, who appears to have let Caruana off the hook. According to the computer analysis it was 21. ... Nf8 where he surrendered his positional advantage, though the champion is still well ahead on time.
Next Caruana takes Carlsen’s knight (25. Bxf4) and Carlsen takes a bishop right back (25. ... gxf4). The American then opts for 26. Rg2 and after the 30-second increment he’s working with just over seven minutes compared to about a half hour for Carlsen.
The grandmaster Susan Polgar calls it a time-induced inaccuracy for the challenger.
Caruana opts for 21. Nd1 and Carlsen doubles down on his ambition with 21. ... Nf8. A spicy pawn sacrifice by the world champion and he’s going for the whole thing. What drama! Caruana goes up a pawn on the next move (22. Nxf6) but Carlsen answers quickly (22. ... Ne6) and the American is under 10 minutes with 18 moves to make before the time control.
Caruana goes with 20. b3 and Carlsen answers with 20. ... Bf7. The challenger, moving more quickly out of necessity, takes a bit of a gambit with 21. Nd1, which he hopes will force Carlen to think and cut into the time deficit. The American has a little over 16 minutes to make 19 moves before he gets more time, while the Norwegian champion is just inside the 40-minute mark as he ponders his 21st move.
Fabiano Caruana ponders the board during Friday’s first game of his world championship series with Magnus Carlsen. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for World Chess
Caruana opts for 19. g4, stopping the clock with a little over 18 minutes (and 21 moves until the time control). Carlsen, with nearly a half-hour time advantage, has a long think before going with 19. ... f6. Here’s a look at the board.
Fabiano Caruana finds himself at disadvantages in position and time in Friday’s opening game. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
During the build-up there has been plenty of speculation about how Carlsen and Caruana have been training, and a particular focus on what openings they have been working on. According to rumors, Caruana may have been getting some extra help from a small US-based website called Chessable, which specializes in training chess openings. The Guardian approached Leon Watson from Chessable but he refused to give anything away. “Obviously we have to keep the names of our users very secret,” he said. “It is very important to all chess players, not just grandmasters, to keep secret what their opening choices are because they don’t want the opposition to be able to prepare for them. However, one thing I can say is that we do have players of every level using the site.”
Caruana blunders with 17. Nf6
Caruana’s 17th move (17. Nf6) is a blunder. He’s now behind on position and on the clock and Magnus Carlsen is playing for a win as black before move 20 in Game 1 of the World Chess Championship. What a turn. Carlsen quickly responds with 17. ... Nd7. Caruana answers with 18. Nh5 and Carlsen wastes no time with 18. ... Be5, pressing his time advantage. Less than 22 minutes on Caruana’s clock with 22 moves before the time control, meaning Caruana will need to average a move a minute to stay above water. Not ideal. The American will have to play very well to avoid losing here.
A group of young onlookers watch Friday’s opening game at the College in Holborn. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Caruana takes his time and proceeds with 15. Raf1 and Carlsen responds with 15. ... Qd6, opening the path for his king to hide on the queenside. The clock keeps ticking down on the American challenger, who has less than 32 minutes (and counting) to make 25 moves before the time control. He’s had his hands full with Carlsen’s aggression in this opening game (1. ... c5 and 14. ... g5, most notably).
The American then goes with 16. Ng4 and Carlsen castles (16. ... O-O-O). Says Russian grandmaster Sasha Grischuk: “Sometimes Magnus can lose his sense of danger, but so far he’s playing this game brilliantly.”
Carlsen delivers something of a crowd-pleaser with 14. ... g5. It’s an ambitious stroke that suggests he’s not simply content to get rid of a black game. Meanwhile, reports of frigid temperatures in the playing hall appear to be confirmed by Carlsen’s decision to put a coat on.
Caruana goes with 14. Qd2 and Carlsen has plenty of time to ponder his response. Here’s a look at the board as it stands. The American challenger has a little over 46 minutes to make 26 more moves before the next time control. (Remember: the time control for each game is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 1.)
Caruana’s time management has been called into question during Game 1. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
After Carlsen responds with 13. ... h6, it’s Caruana eating up clock again. The position on the board is even, but the American is heading toward 46min remaining, which is a half hour behind Carlsen (1hr 16min 32sec).
Just spoke to the British grandmaster and commentator Daniel King, who runs the popular PowerPlayChess channel on YouTube. He was intrigued by Caruana’s 10. Nh2, where Qd2 is the more common move, and says while he regards the position as level that ‘it is great for the match that the position is opening up so quickly, giving both sides a chance to attack’.
Carlsen goes with 12. ... Be6 and Caruana responds with 13. Rf2. A fascinating psychological battle developing in the opener, certainly more engaging than Game 1 of the last world championship in New York, where Carlsen played the seldom-used Trompowsky Attack (which he’d later confess was at least partially inspired by the name of America’s newly minted president-elect) but Sergey Karjakin scratched back to force a mostly forgettable draw after 42 moves.
Caruana’s time management has been called into question, but it can’t be said that Black is better at this point.
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana face off in the first of their 12-game championship series. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Another lengthy wait for Caruana, who finally settles on 11. f4. Carlsen takes a pawn with 11. ... exf4, and the American takes one back with 12. Rxf4.
Carlsen back on the clock (1hr 26min) with a more than 20-minute advantage over Caruana (1hr 5min 37sec).
Caruana finally settles on 10. Nh2 and Carlsen responds with 10. ... Nf8. Here’s a look at the board after 10 moves. Carlsen has a 12-minute advantage on the clock with 30 moves left until the first time control.
Carlsen has the early edge on time over Caruana through 10 moves in Game 1. Photograph: World Chess Championship 2018
The opening continues with 6. h3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Nd7 8. Be3 e5 9. O-O b6. But Caruana, who was already a few minutes behind on time, has been pondering his next move for more than 10 minutes now, perhaps taken aback by 9. ... d6.
Carlsen (1hr 33min 7sec) is already 15 minutes ahead of Caruana (1hr 18min and counting). Not a critical development yet, but it does appear Magnus has surprised the American challenger with his opening choice.
Fabiano Caruana’s time management has been a point of discussion early in Game 1. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Game 1 is under way!
Caruana playing with the white pieces opens with 1. e4 while Carlsen surprises with a Sicilian Defence response (1. ... c5). The opening continues with 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d3 Bg7.
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana shake hands before the start of their world championship match on Friday in London. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters
Good afternoon from a slightly chaotic media room in Holborn, which unsurprisingly, is dominated by Norwegian journalists. Just been speaking to Bernt Brennevann from the NTB agency, who tells me he is just one of 15 reporters from Norway here to cover the Carlsen match, which is being covered on the main TV channel in the country. Also quickly popped into the gift shop, which has some slightly risque offerings. Make a move, anyone?
The press room is now so busy it’s standing room only. Meanwhile, the actor Woody Harrelson has headed into the building wearing a suit and a light blue beanie hat. If the rumors are correct he’ll be making the first move.
Woody Harrelson and Fabiano Caruana pose at Thursday night’s opening gala. Photograph: James Shaw/REX/Shutterstock
Here’s a look at the format for the world championship match. It will consist of 12 classical games with each player awarded one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. Whoever reaches six and a half points first will be declared the champion.
The time control for each game is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 1. Players cannot agree to a draw before Black’s 30th move.
If the match is tied after 12 games, tie-breaks will be played on the final day in the following order:
• Best of four rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
• If still tied, they will play up to five mini-matches of two blitz games (five minutes for each player with a three-second increment).
• If all five mini-matches are drawn, one sudden-death ‘Armageddon’ match will be played where White receives five minutes and Black receives four minutes. Both players will receive a three-second increment after the 60th move. In the case of a draw, Black will be declared the winner.
Our Sean Ingle was at yesterday’s press conference at the College in Holborn, which you can watch below. It was a mostly conciliatory affair, as these things tend to be, and there is a very real mutual respect between the contestants. Yet Carlsen, when asked if he saw himself as the underdog or the favorite, couldn’t help but reveal signs of the alpha dog within.
“It has been a while since I have considered myself an underdog, to be honest,” he said. “If you have been the No 1 ranked player in the world for seven years and have won three world titles in a row, then there is something seriously wrong with your psyche, I think.”
Carlsen and Caruana spoke at Thursday’s press conference ahead of their world championship match.
Hello and welcome to London for day one of the World Chess Championship. We’ve got a cracker of a tie ahead as Norway’s Magnus Carlsen defends the title he’s held for the past five years against Fabiano Caruana of the United States. The best-of-12-games match is taking place at the College in Holborn over the next 19 days, with the winner earning a 60% share of the €1m ($1.14m) prize fund if the match ends in regulation (or 55% if it’s decided by tie-break games).
Carlsen, 27, has been ranked No 1 for eight straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he defeated Viswanathan Anand for the title in 2013. Caruana, 26, is ranked No 2, having earned his place the table by winning the candidates tournament in March. No American-born player has won or even competed for the world title since Bobby Fischer in 1972.
It marks the first title match between the world’s top two players since 1990, when Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov faced off for a fifth and final time.
We’re a little more than a half hour away from the ceremonial first move. Plenty more to come.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Sean Ingle’s lookahead to the next three weeks.
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