*Round 1: Caruana Struggles But Holds Draw Against Carlsen*
Luckily, London is a major city and you can still get dinner delivered at any hour. Today (**Friday 9 Nov) the world’s top two grandmasters played right through dinner.
It wasn’t the longest world championship game ever, but to Magnus Carlsen, it felt like it. After 115 moves in the opening round of his fourth title match, he couldn’t break through against challenger Fabiano Caruana. The two drew their opening game at the 2018 world chess championship, but this is one case where the result masks the tension of the battle.
In some ways, their nearly seven-hour clash resembled their recent encounters from earlier this year. Just like in August at the Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen built up a sizable edge, but couldn’t convert (there was no finger-to-lips moment shushing time around). The champ agreed with the comparison to that game when asked by Chess.com, but likened it even more to their 2018 game at the Grenke Chess Classic since it was also a rook-and-pawn ending, like today.
The 115 moves was 10 short of breaking the record for longest in title history (1978 Karpov-Korchnoi, game five, still stands). But it did set a record for their personal series. In nearly three dozen head-to-head classical battles, they had never before played a 100-move game.
It’s hard to say who won the psychological battle. On one hand, Carlsen had no trouble equalizing as Black in the Sicilian, and was the aggressor shortly after the theoretical stage, for the final 100 moves or so. On the other hand, Caruana got right into the match and weathered the typical relentlessness of Carlsen, who might have felt like Karjakin-redux came to challenge him.
*Carlsen vs Caruana: Game 2 Ends in a Draw After 49 Moves* (Sat 10 Nov)
Game 2 of the 12-game championship ends in a draw between Carlsen and Caruana after just 49 moves. The game was fast paced and the final sequence veered into the known theoretical draw territory (43. fxe4 fxe4 44. h3 Ra5 45. Rb7 Rg5+ 46. Kf1 Rg6 47. Rb4 Rg5 48. Rb7 Rg6 49. Rb4 48. Rb7 Rg6 49. Rb4) and ended in a draw in roughly three and a quarter hours.
“This was not very good,” Carlsen said. “I was surprised in the opening. I thought I had chances to a small advantages. I mis-calculated something. Then I had to beg for a draw, but that went without problems.”
He added: “I am not happy about this, but it’s better than losing.”
Carlsen further added: “He played a completely new move that actually doesn’t look natural to me. I have to look at it later. We’ll see if it was a surprise in this game or if he found something new.”
Game 3 will take place on November 12.