Added on 12/4/2021


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.



It is not easy to understand the players' mindset after an epic battle.

The chess world still resonates with those almost eight hours of Game 6, which made historical records. Magnus emerged victorious, as we all know. It often happens that after a fantastic performance, the protagonist feels emptied, having given everything to achieve victory.

We've seen this happen many times in tennis, for example. A player who beat Djokovic, maybe even unexpecting, lost the next game miserably. In sports, especially at the top level, the mental aspect is essential, and today many were curious about how the two champions would react after yesterday. But it's been a calm day, with the game ending in a peaceful draw at move 41.

Nepo went again for a Ruy Lopez, with the same configuration as in Game 5: the anti-Marshall with 8.a4. This time Magnus deviated at move 11, playing h6.

Carlsen has been trying to play 3rd or even 4th choice moves in this opening, but as for now, he's always found a super prepared Nepo. The game soon became quite symmetrical, which usually means neither player would easily find a way to break through. The battle for the center led to exchanging pieces quickly, with zero risks for both, and entering a drawn endgame. If Ian and Magnus could have agreed on a draw at move 31, it's entirely possible we would have had even a shorter game.

The players looked tired and, in a way, anxious to get back to the hotel to rest a bit, despite affirming - in the post-game press conference - that yesterday's game didn't influence their choices today. One can imagine that last night wasn't easy to sleep for the two young men, probably for opposite reasons and for the adrenaline flowing copiously in their bloodstream. In the press conference, Ian looked confident, though aware of the situation, and didn't sound naively optimistic.

Magnus showed his usual annoyed self when it comes to talking to people. Still, even if he looked tired, his incredible charisma and consistently strong confidence allowed him to answer the journalists' questions. He sounded really annoyed just once and evaded a question with a laconic "no comment."

The war continues. Tomorrow the players enter the second half of the match. Carlsen plays white. It's a long way to go, and nothing is decided yet.