Added on 12/3/2021


GM Joel Benjamin reviews games 6, 7 & 8

Should we be afraid now? Five games into the World Championship we have not seen a decisive game, after the two games since the break, games four and five, ended in fairly short draws.



What a rollercoaster!

We finally saw the human side of these two chess monsters. Ian and Magnus reached a complicated position with second on their clocks to play ten moves, and blunders finally happened. The game had been incredible until that point, with both players playing so well that the engines could not evaluate anything different than 0.00. But then, in a thrilling time scrambling, everything happened, and it happened FAST!

With seconds on the clocks, the two champions blundered, missed winning moves and... at move 40 the position was drawn again. They left the fish tank immediately after reaching time control to cool off and get their heartbeat back to a normal pace. The game looked very drawish on their return, but we know these guys won't give up so easily.

Ian and Magnus kept playing for more than 80 moves without anything special happening. They passed the second time control, getting into an amazingly long Blitz game. Carlsen with Rook, Knight, and two pawns, against Nepo's bare Queen. Ian defended splendidly for 60 moves, keeping Magnus from pushing the pawns. But then Carlsen, with infinite patience and his unmatched talent in endgames, managed to find all the best moves and started pushing his pawns. Despite being always behind on the clock, Magnus had it all figured out. Following the game with Stockfish 14.1 and letting the engine think as much as the players did, we got the following evaluation profile

The first red circle from the left shows the rollercoaster of the time-scramble right before move 40. Then there is a long flat line, with Magnus getting minimal advantage (never more than half a pawn). And then, the squeezing. After almost eight hours, Carlsen was able to find the right plan, which he performed with seconds on the clock, in a terrific show of great nerves and self-control.

IM Eric Rosen -


Ian and Magnus broke the previous record for the longest game ever in a World Championship Match, playing 136 moves. After the game, Magnus said in a short interview that he felt Ian was tired and that the Russian's attention was not like it had been hours earlier. And that's precisely what happened. The position was actually drawn (tablebase), but when Magnus felt that his opponent was tired, he came out the raptor he can be on these occasions. Kudos to the World Champion for a fantastic and thrilling game!

Useless to say that nothing is lost for Nepomniachtchi. There are eight games left, and even if such a loss could weigh psychologically on the Russian super-GM, he will likely find the right resources into himself to come back and play as he knows. Tomorrow, in game 7, Ian plays with white. Will it be immediate revenge? We'll see!