Magnus Carlsen has clinched a win with the black pieces, leaving him in an almost unassailable position in the world chess championship.
Norwegian chessmaster Magnus Carlsen is a step closer to retaining the title of world champion after he won with the black pieces against Ian Nepomniachtchi.
The Russian challenger, already stung by two losses and with six games remaining, played the English opening. Carlsen responded with the coy e6.
When the Russian fianchettoed his light square bishop, the Norwegian steered the game into a kind of reversed Benoni defence — technically an Agincourt variation of the English opening.
It was clear the game was going to be a knife fight.
By move five — O-O and the odd-looking but pragmatic Bc5 — the players were in an unconventional position that’s barely listed in any chess databases.
Nepomniachtchi blitzed out the first 10 moves, indicating he was well prepared.
In the resulting position, Carlsen pushed his a pawn down the board to a3. Nepomniachtchi took the pawn in what appeared to be an anti-positional move.
The queens were traded soon afterwards, leaving Carlsen with an active position.
Nepomniachtchi pushed his c pawn adventurously forward but blundered horrendously – trapping his light square bishop on b7.
Carlsen spent his final minutes calculating the winning variation precisely and Nepomniachtchi resigned soon afterwards.
The Norwegian is now up 6-3 with five games remaining, an almost unassailable position.
Carlsen said after the game, “No style points awarded, so I’ll take it.
“It was a tough game in which I was under pressure both on the board and on the clock. A turnaround like that was unexpected.”