WCC R7: An-Out-of-Book-at-All-Costs Draw

11.18.18 The seventh game of the World Championship Match ended in a draw after a 40-move Queen's Gambit Declined. This game marked the seventh straight draw of the Match--one game shy of the most consecutive draws to open a World Championship Match which happened during Anand-Kasparov 1995. Another bellwether from this game is the realization that, at the top level, getting one's opponent out of their preparation is more important than playing the most principled lines. The Match score is locked at 3.5 points apiece.

Fabiano Caruana has been giving the World Champion all he can handle but as yet has been unable to break through.images: worldchess.com

The Match is shaping up as a battle of the competitors getting their opponent out of his book by any means possible.

The opening in Game 7 of the World Chess Championship followed along the same line as Game 2--a Queen's Gambit Declined--until Carlsen deviated with 10.Nd2. (In Game 2 Carlsen played 10.Rd1.) This move was quickly met by 10...Qd8 banged out by Caruana in 26 seconds. The move 10...Qd8 turned out to be a very rare sideline that caused Carlsen to sink into a fairly deep think. GM Maurice Ashley referred to this as an amazing retreating or backwards move. (He recorded a DVD on just this kind of move.) "This is Fabi's preparation." was Ashley's comment after 10...Qd8. Current theory considered 10...Qd8 dubious, particularly in commentary by GM Gregory Kaidanov, but again we see Caruana resurrecting less than the sharpest, theory-approved moves to get Carlsen out of his preparation. Interesting to note is that after black's 10...Qd8 the average time per move dropped from less than one minute to twelve and a half minutes for Carlsen and nearly fourteen minutes for Caruana over moves 11 through 14.

After Carlsen's 11.Nb3, the position on the board when compared to the current database of over seven million games was won by white in six games out of six. After 11...Bd6 the engines considered the position dead equal but not a boring, snooze-fest equal rather an equality that says, Game on!

Former World Champion Vishwanathan Anand commented with, "We are getting to the point where one mistake will decide the Match." When asked if Carlsen was the prohibitive favorite if the Match goes to tiebreaks Anand's answer was a resounding no. He was of the mind that although Carlsen is the slightly stronger Rapid and Blitz player, nerves will be more important than pure chess skill in determining the winner.

The players traded blows through move thirty--significant because that is the threshold for draw offers--and continued to play in a position determined to be stock equal by commentators and engines both albeit one with two sets of doubled g-pawns.

The players couldn't squeeze anything else out of the position, went for a triple-repeat-of-position draw, and shook hands on move 40.

This Match is still in the running for the World Championship Match with the most consecutive draws to begin the Match. The Kasparov-Karpov World Championship Matches and others have had more consecutive draws but not to start the Match. The record-holder Match with the most number of consecutive draws to begin the Match was Anand-Kasparov 1995. On Friday, September 22, 1995 the eighth consecutive draw occurred to break the record. The current Carlsen-Caruana Match has just put seven straight draws in the books, one more and the record will be tied.

Game 8 will begin at 10:00 a.m. eastern U.S. on Monday, November 19th.

The World Champion showed some signs of frustration at the board...

...and at the post-game press conference.

Neither player, with white or black, has been able to get a full point on the board as of yet.

"If I get a chance, I will try to take it." --Fabiano Caruana

Official Site of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018

Official site of the venue for the Match: The College

Match Schedule
All games will be played at 10:00 a.m. eastern U.S. time (3:00 p.m. GMT.)

Game 1 Friday, November 9

Game 2 Saturday, November 10

Rest Day Sunday, November 11

Game 3 Monday, November 12

Game 4 Tuesday, November 13

Rest Day Wednesday, November 14

Game 5 Thursday, November 15

Game 6 Friday, November 16

Rest Day Saturday, November 17

Game 7 Sunday, November 18

Game 8 Monday, November 19

Rest Day Tuesday, November 20

Game 9 Wednesday, November 21

Game 10 Thursday, November 22

Rest Day Friday, November 23

Game 11 Saturday, November 24

Rest Day Sunday, November 25

Game 12 Monday, November 26

Tie Break/Awards Ceremony Tuesday, November 27

Tie Break/Awards Ceremony Wednesday, November 28

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