Karjakin returns to 1.e4, will Carlsen suprise him with something new?
There is no way to know how this match is affecting Carlsen and Karjakin. The games are physically and emotionally grating. Three of the games have gone over six hours. The constant calculation and lack of human interaction is a heavy burden. Carlsen has mentioned the games “spinning around and around” in his head during rest days. He also mentioned “finally being able to relax” before Game 11, implying that relaxing has been difficult for him this match. How did Carlsen relax? A massage and a walk. Carlsen is always in favor of less rest days. Perhaps he wants a more rigorous schedule because he finds more comfort on the chessboard than away from it. Karjakin has mentioned fatigue being a factor. But other than being understandably discouraged after his Game 10 loss, and his Game 10 errors, he hasn’t shown it.
I want to report that I’ve seen Carlsen communicating with his manager Espen Agdestein during press conferences. Carlsen will look to stage left and Agdestein will gently pat his wrist. Sometimes people point at their watch meaning "hurry up!" Agdestein is not doing that. He looks more like a 3rd base coach telling Carlsen not to steal 2nd base. I do not want to speculate what the wrist pat means, or why it is necessary for Carlsen to communicate mid press conference. I’m simply reporting something that I saw.
I was honored to spend around 20 minutes in the World Chess Broadcast studio. I talked a lot about Chess at 3, got some good lichess.org plugs in, and gave my thoughts on the match so far. Here is the full video of the game, clicking the link will take you to my segment.
You're almost there Magnus! Photo Courtesy of World Chess
Game 11 saw another Ruy Lopez. It was a Game 2 replica until Carlsen played 9...Be6 instead of Game 2’s Na5. The knights and light squared bishops were off the board by move 14. How many pawns were there? I’ll give you a hint: How many water bottles are on Carlsen and Karjakin’s table? The answer to both questions is: 16.
Never a shortage of water for Carlsen and Karjakin- Photo Courtesy of World Chess
In this Championship the dynamic moments have happened in the endgames. So when the pieces quickly come off the board it’s a bit difficult to tell if it’s going to be quick draw, or one player has a particular endgame where they think they have an advantage.
Over this match I’ve noticed Magnus uses the knight as his endgame weapon of choice. Games 1, 3, 4, and the all important Game 10 have seen Carlsen choose the knight for the endgame. Would Carlsen be able to push for a win without a knight?
Carlsen is always fighting and trying to make imbalances in any position, here is an example from Game 11.
Most players would approach this position from this point of view: I have the black pieces today, most of the pieces are off the board, exd3 leads to a relatively easy draw, I should take it, and save my energy for tomorrow. Carlsen chose not to take, but instead create a passed pawn with 24...e3. This keeps the pressure on Karjakin to defend, and gives him more opportunities to make mistakes.
Both players maneuvered their queens, traded rooks, and Karjakin was able to force a draw by perpetual check on move 34.
We are all tied at 5.5 a piece going into Game 12. Carlsen and Karjakin battle for chess immortality on Monday.
Tyler Schwartz is a passionate chess ambassador. Tyler is the President of Chess at 3, teaching chess to children all over the world at the suprising age of 3. He is the Head of Media at lichess.org. Tyler also manages a chess club on the upper east side of Manhattan.