Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana played to a fifth draw in as many games on Thursday in the latest episode of their world championship showdown in London, as the Norwegian champion adroitly weathered early fireworks to negotiate a peaceful result after 34 moves and three-and-a-quarter hours.
Caruana, playing with the white pieces, led with a Rossolimo (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6), marking the third time in a week the players opened with the Sicilian variation. The American was first to deviate with 4. O-O, then prompted gasps with 6. b4!?, a highly aggressive move offering a pawn sacrifice with the hope of creating pressure and confusion and, ideally, winning chances in the long term.
The challenger settled into a comfortable position, but Carlsen was able to escape from immediate danger shortly after (10. Bxa1 d6 11. bxc5 Ne7 12. Qe2 b4 13. Qc4). Caruana played at an incredible pace during the first act, taking no longer than 66 seconds to complete any of his opening 13 moves, demonstrating a formidable depth of preparation.
The American required more than 31 minutes before settling on 19. Bc3, taking extra care to not squander whatever advantage remained from his opening surprise – even if the computers indicated a level and drawish position by that point. No real progress was made over the next hour and the players shook hands after another bloodless draw