FIDE World Chess Championship 2021, Game 10: This tournament has turned around completely after six draws in a row. Expecting from the openers that it will be a long tournament has changed dramatically. Magnus Carlsen breaks the deadlock.
And now, the defending champion is only one win away to hold his title for the fifth time. The score being tied at 3-3 Magnus Carlsen scored three wins to take a 6-3 lead. While hoping the Russian to bounce back, the 10th game saw a quick draw.
Only taking a bit more than two hours, Magnus Carlsen shook hands with challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi for a draw. It was a surprise for everyone as he needed only one win to finish it and he did not push hard.
Nepo was doing it as he planned to do saying, “It was necessary first and foremost to play a normal game without blunders,” Nepo said. “The main plan was not to do something stupid today.”
The opening choice did not deviate as Nepo played 1…e5. Expects suggested some stronger openings such as the Sicilian which can get you to result instead as GM Fabiano Caruana put it, “White has a million ways to force a draw against 1.e4 e5.” With this move, it seemed Nepo would take a draw.
Magnus Carlsen on Ian Nepomniachtchi’s opening choice: “Frankly, I hadn’t thought about him playing the Petroff today at all. I was praying for various sharp openings that he could play, and the thought was that if he goes 1…e5 then I’ll see. I didn’t think making a draw against the Petroff would be a major issue.”
Ian Nepomniachtchi on why he preferred Petroff: “The problem is, basically, playing as Black you don’t have such a big choice,” argued Nepomniachtchi. “Especially when it’s classical, even if you play a so-called sharp opening like the Sicilian, if White wants to shut it down White surely will shut it down.”
GM Robert Hess was quick to point that the game is going for a drawish line with Qe2+. After 4.Nd3, a move Carlsen had also played against Caruana in the previous world championship (an 80-move draw), there followed 4…Nxe4 5.Qe2+ Qe7 and soon the queens left the board. “Mainly the prospects of getting the queens off very soon and getting a dry position,” Magnus said.
It was the Russian who deviated first with Nf6. And after …Nc6, it was a completely new game and the defending champion had to spend almost 19 minutes playing his eighth move. Magnus Carlsen had the chance to avoid the queen trade but he choose the other option. “8.Be3 is a move there and surely the critical one but I was just not in the mood. I think the match situation sort of explains that.”
It was then maneuvering the pieces to their optimal squares and Nepo did it smoothly bringing back the game on equal terms.
GM Sam Shankland summed up the game as follows: “Game 10 was only interesting in that it showed some of the players’ priorities and choices—the gameplay itself was an absolute snoozefest. Magnus predictably went for 1.e4, which is certainly the best move to play in a situation where a draw is a very welcome result.”
Magnus Carlsen on taking a draw: “At this point, there are so few games to go that any draw is an excellent result. I mean, I very much assume he’s gonna try and win, especially with the white pieces. But sure, any half point that I can get is great, and I think that’s pretty obvious.”
From here, the track is really steep for the Challenger. Any result against him will result in the end of the FIDE World Chess Championship 2021 tournament.