Carlsen – Karjakin, Game five


If you have ever played any sport (i'm sorry, for majority chess is NOT a sport) than the feeling must be familiar. You are feeling good and playing better, yet you are unable to capitalize on your chances. And as you keep missing, your frustration and anger grows to a point beyond your controll.  And usually at such a moment your opponent hits a "lucky" ball and suddenly everything changes.

Remember all those situations in football when one team was defending the whole game and suddenly managed to score some "stupid goal" from one counterattack.

Situations very familiar to supporters of the Jose Mourinho cult.

In the light of a table tennis tournament I played today I might be drawing some unexistent parallels though. And I am not saying that because the basic principle of table tennis play is very different than principle of football.

The better explanation is that I didn't have any chances at all 🙁


This picture pretty much sums up how i felt at certain moments today.. 😀

Correspondingly, Carlsen - Karjakin game five almost confirmed the above unwritten sports rule. Because after two games where Carlsen had serious winning chances, it was hard for him to admit that he doesn't have anything serious in game five.

Therefore, he kept on playing for win and overpress at one point. Obviously, he was unaware that such play might land him into trouble, which is exactly what happened. However, Karjakin didn't find the strongest continuation  and Carlsen managed to stabilize the position, which led to inevitable draw.


Carlsen - Karjakin game five witnessed the first Giuoco Piano, or Italian Opening.  The "Italian Reneissance" (yes, I will keep doing this things consistently :)) during the last year has become of the main ways to avoid the Berlin Endgame. It came as no big surprise to anyone, although the Italian last time appeared in 19th century in the World Championship match.

More precisely, in the 1890 (!) match between Steinitz and Gunsberg (source - chesscom article).

Edit: User "keypusher"  pointed out that Giuoco Piano actually appeared in Karpov - Korchnoi match in Merano, 1981. And also in Steinitz - Lasker matches. One should apparently check his sources 🙂


The "Italian renneisance", as visualized by author of these lines

Moreover, the change of opening by Champion resulted for the first time with position without the immediate 0-0 evaluation. At move 14 Karjakin embarked on a little, but unnecessary relieveing tactical combination. Carlsen took an unconventional decision and gave up his bishop pair to install the knight on c5.

In addition to the mighty knight, Carlsen also found the very strong Ra3 move, with the inclusion of the rook into the game.

It seems like that Champion missed something however, since instead of the patient continuation he provoked the "crisis" immediately with another knight jump.

As a result, he was forced to take back with a pawn in order to play for a win. Probably Karjakin's Qh4 was the surprise, since after that queen foray White was forced to play defensive.

However, now it was Karjakin's turn to rush a bit when he gave up his bishop for a knight on c5.  Due to this unnecessary exchange, the pawn structure was "mirror" to the pawn structure that appeared in game four.

However, contrary to game four, Carlsen couldn't apply pressure on b7, since with the heavy pieces on the board it was harder to advance the kingside pawns.

Therefore, another relatively colourless draw was expected, when suddenly Magnus decided to "go for the jugular". However, the "George the g pawn" was met quickly by "Harry the h pawn".

And just before the time control Magnus play a not very careful Kg2, blocking the rook's path to the newly opened h-file. Hence, Karjakin gained serious chances for the first time in the match.

The position was very complicated though, and he didn't manage to find the best way to utilize his advantage.

We could argue that there is some higher justice for such a turn of events.

Especially if you are a Magnus fan 🙂

P.S. Make sure to check the press conference highlights to see Magnus' disgust with his performance today.


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2 Responses

  1. keypusher

    Nice post.

    The giuoco piano was played in Karpov-Korchnoi 1981. Steinitz played it against Lasker in both their matches. Not sure about other matches. Feel free to delete this.

    • Mistreaver

      Whoops, that’s what happens when you quote other sites without double checking 😀
      Why should i delete it. I can just thank you for the comment and give you credit for being more informed than me. 🙂
      Thanks for telling me this.

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