WCC Game 9: Carlsen Wins with Black; Takes Three-Point Lead

12.07.21 Magnus Carlsen won Game 9 of the FIDE World Chess Championship being contested in Dubai, UAE and took what may become an insurmountable three-point lead in the Match. Tragically for the Challenger, particularly after posing Carlsen difficulties in the opening in which the Champion was behind both on the board and on the clock, the single move 27.c5 suddenly plunged the position into a dead loss.

The players greet each other at the commencement of Game 9 at the World Chess Championship in Dubai, UAE. image FIDE

The Challenger, in an attempt to shake things up, came out with a new haircut--the man bun is now gone--and a new opening move 1.c4. This strategy was indicated as Nepomniachtchi's position in the Match being two points down was getting critical. As 2018 Challenger to the World Championship Fabiano Caruana stated at the outset of the game, "If he can't make anything happen with the White pieces again it's starting to look very bleak."

Indian chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa makes the first move of the game. Also on stage are: Maurice Ashley, Deputy FIDE President Bachar Kouatly, and Ayelen Martinez, organizer of the FIDE World School Chess Tournament. This is the first time in the Match that the ceremonial move did not get retracted and instead remained on the board as White pressed his clock. image FIDE

After 1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Carlsen played the sharper 3...d4. When asked about this move during the post-game press conference the Champion stated that it was the line he had prepared to meet 1.c4.

Inexplicably on move 27, Nepomniachtchi played a one-move blunder. Of this move he said, "It's not even funny that there was a way to blunder this position in one move." Carlsen said, "Seeing c5 on the board was pretty absurd." When asked by Maurice Ashley why he used that particular word the Champion responded, "You don't expect to win a piece for nothing." and added, "Earning a victory by hard work is more satisfying than winning by a blunder--but, I'll take it."

Nepomniachtchi's 17.Re1 was pointed to by Lev Aronian after the game as an indication that the Challenger was not up to fighting for the Match. For Aronian, this move, rather than 27.c5 was the bellwether of what was to come in the Match.

The move 27.c5 was the crude blunder that lost the game for the Challenger. This move traps White's Bishop and loses the game.

GM Jan Ludvig Hammer stated flatly, "The Match is over. There is no way Nepomniachtchi can come back."

Game 10 begins at 7:30 a.m. eastern Wednesday, December 8th.

Match Score

Watch The Games Live with Commentary on Chess.com

Games and Coverage from lichess

Official Site of the FIDE World Chess Championship

Game 9 Coverage on ChessBase.com


The match will be played over 14 standard games.

The first player to reach 7.5 points wins.

At the opening ceremony, a drawing of colors determines who will start with the white pieces.

The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.

If the scores are level after the regular 14 games, four tie-break games will be played. These are rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.

If it's still equal, two blitz games will be played (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment). If it's still equal, a second pair of two blitz games will be played. If there is still no winner after five such matches, one sudden-death game will be played.
The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds starting from move 61. In case of a draw, the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

The players cannot draw a game by agreement before Black's 30th move.

A claim for a draw before Black's 30th move is permitted only through one of the arbiters in
the cases of a threefold repetition.

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