WCC R8: A Promising Position for Caruana Ends in a Draw

11.19.18 Using an information advantage and 7.Nd5 in the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian, Caruana got a great position in Game 8 of the World Chess Championship Match with a big lead on the clock. If he played 24.Qh5, Caruana would have had complete control over the position. However, Caruana played the slower 24.h3 and lost most of his advantage. A near miss for the Challenger and the eighth straight draw in the Match tying the record held by Anand-Kasparov 1995. Going into a rest day, the Match is tied at 4-4.

Game 8 at the World Chess Championship resulted in the eighth straight draw of the Match. With four games remaining in the classical time control portion of the Match, the score is even at 4.0 points apiece.images: worldchess.com

Game 8 began as an Open Sicilian that developed into a Sveshnikov Variation when the World Champion played 4...Nf6. When the Challenger played the critical and less-common alternative 7.Nd5 (7.Bg5 is standard, theory), the pawn structure changed. Avoiding 7.Bg5 was a psychological and logical choice that forced the game into Caruana's territory.

Caruana played the critical key move 12.Bd2 and a dynamic position resulted with chances for both sides but a position clearly in Caruana's preparation and comfort zone.

After eighteen moves, Caruana actually had more time on his clock than he started with thanks to the thirty-second increment allotted to the players after each move. The Challenger had his deepest think of the game thus far using 10 minutes and 10 seconds on move 20. At this point, white's position was preferable but every move was critical to the position's evaluation. After Carlsen's 20th, Caruana was nealy one hour ahead on the clock with the times showing one hour twenty-seven for Caruana and 34 minutes for Carlsen.

The move 21.c5 was looming and according to GM Peter Leko, "If black has to play 20...Qc7 that means something went very wrong." Carlsen instead chose 20...Bf5 after nearly twenty-one more minutes thinking.

It was clear that this was the first game of the Match in which white got what he wanted.

After a thirty-three minute think, Caruana did play the pawn sacrifice 21.c5. Carlsen responded with 21...Nxf3+ and after 22.Qxf3 dxc5 white, although a pawn down had a very comfortable position.

23.Rad1 came and Carlsen found the clear 23...Bd6. At this point black's pieces were becoming too specific in their defensive functions while white enjoyed great positional flexibility.

If Caruana had played 24.Qh5, white would have had complete control of the position. Instead, he played the slower 24.h3 and lost most of his advantage.

One false move and the game went from very promising for white to completely level. Approaching the time control with an equal position the players agreed to a draw to a draw on move 38.

A near miss for the Challenger.

Game 9 will begin at 10:00 a.m. eastern U.S. on Wednesday, November 21st.

Was Game 9 the one that got away from Challenger Fabiano Caruana?

Magnus Carlsen may have dodged another bullet.

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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