Carlsen – Karjakin, Game one


Finally, after all the speculations, predictions, internet debate, statistical analysis and Agon company controversial decisions about match broadcasting, it is time to leave all discussion and focus purely on chess, because the long awaited moment of the start of the match has arrived.

As the players sat at the board and the chess world held it's breath in expectance of the first move, the actor Woody Harrelson (probably best known to younger generation for his role in the Sin City, a.k.a. "that movie with Jessica Alba dancing dressed in rodeo outfit") took Magnus' queen pawn and advance it two squares toward Karjakin.

What was I saying again??... oh yes... Whereas first move didn't come as such a big surprise to anyone, the 2nd move was quite a shocker. When Carlsen grabbed his dark squared bishop, most of spectators, me included, expected that it will land on f4 and that we will have another case of London system.  Everyone was pretty surprised when the bishop slided one square further on g5.

Everyone... Except Karjakin.

Although this game was the first instance of Trompovsky appearing in World Championship match in history, it transpired that Karjakin did his homework very well, because Carlsen has already played the Trompovsky on a multiple occasions (in my database I have eleven games, and although some of them ARE blitz and simul games, he did play it at some open tournaments, for instance against Kramnik at the 2013 Tal Memorial).


The first game followed a rather peaceful course and probably most of the spectators would describe it as "boring" if you would ask them.

As will be apparent in the game analysis, the players followed the afore mentioned Carlsen - Kramnik game up to move five, where Karjakin played

I can't resist here but to brag that first game followed pretty much the course that I had kinda anticipated in my previous post.

 All elements were there:

  • Magnus choosing an offbeat opening with surprise element
  • Karjakin being very well prepared and equalising easily
  • Magnus trying to put some pressure from pretty much level position
  • Karjakin defending succesfully and reaching the save drawing heaven

Naturally, i am getting carried away, because first games of the match have rarely been very exciting. The players very merely probing each other and it is clear that the real battle is only heating up.

This game was a great example why best players in the world don't employ openings such as Trompovsky or London system on a more regular basis (compared to 2000-2400/2500 rating groups). Even though Magnus was first to employ a new move, he didn't manage to create serious problems for Karjakin in the opening, and the latter demonstrated how easy it is to equalize when White doesn't want to enter a trendy theoretical discussion.

However, one has to bear in mind that, as I tried pointing out in this article, reaching equal positions is exactly what Trompovsky players aim for, because they often manage to outplay their opponents who are unfamiliar with the position and the structure. Naturally, it is much more harder to accomplish this feat in the 2700+ rating groups, because they are used to playing the equal positions and are doing it on a completey different level.

To wrap it up, a somewhat expected, quiet start of the match. Now it is Karjakin's turn to demonstrate what he and his formidable team have in store with the White pieces.

And for all devotees of the Trompovsky it will be also interesting to follow whether Magnus will dare to repeat Trompovsky once again.

To be honest, I don't find it very likely, but only time will tell.

Stay tuned!


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4 Responses

  1. Günther Josten

    Compare 25..Ke7 with Andersson-Ivanov 1980 29.Rd6

    Ulf find a way to win

    • Mistreaver

      Wow, this is a very nice discovery, I had no idea about this game. Thank you very much for this insight.
      Yes, Ulf played without f4, but I am not sure if Black was obliged to exchange the rooks.

  2. Great review. Wonderful blog. Just one thing though…. That clip was from Sin City 1, Woody had a role in Sin City 2 🙂

    • Mistreaver

      Thanks man, it is appreciated. I will check your youtube channel as well 🙂
      And yes, for some reason i was convinced that Woody appears in Sin City 1.
      That is very bad blunder, but still, half-nude Jessica Alba videos can’t do much harm on a blog, so it would be a shame to remove it, right 🙂

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