CARLSEN'S BRILLIANT PREPARATION YIELDS YET ANOTHER HANDSHAKE
One single glance at the scoreboard of the World chess championship 2016 must have made Anish Giri really proud.
Because halfway through the match the perfect 6/6 in terms of indecisive games has been reached.
Almost as if Anish was playing in the match himself.
After this sucker's punch to the youngest father in the world top 10, let's stick with the players who actually QUALIFIED for the World Championship.
Carlsen - Karjakin game six was the first game where one player managed to display his opening preparation.
Opposite to the expectations of the chess community, that players was the World Champion himself.
The opening of the game four was again repeated. However, instead of repeating the modest d6 move, Magnus was the first to spring his surprise and advance d5 in one go, sacrificing thus the e5 pawn in Marshall style.
It seems like Carlsen's second, Peter Heine Nielsen did his job very well, since he was the first one to bring this move in the h3 variation under the light of the sun. Therefore, Carlsen displayed amazing prepration, up to the move 21, leaving Karjakin with no choice but to enter an equal opposite coloured bishops position and reconcilliate himself with the fact that his White pieces have once again been neutralized.
As already mentioned, in his third White game Magnus once again avoided the Berlin in favour of the Closed Ruy Lopez. Karjakin repeated the h3-line from game four heading for some improvement. Therefore Carlsen was the first to deviate, and played an early d5, which was mentioned as a possibility in the aforementioned analysis of the game four.
Karjakin accepted the challenge, only to be faced with serious of very strong moves (14..c5!, 15...f6!,.. 19.. Qd5!.., 21... Qd6!). Realizing that by trying for more he might only end up losing, Karjakin admitted he has been outprepared and settled for a quick draw.
As a result, the game was the shortest of the match, lasting only 95 minutes. Because of it's duration and chess content of the board, the spectators were quick to call it boring rather quickly.
Even Carlsen said in the press conference that there was not "much happening."
Since author of these lines too often succumbs to the opinion of majority, at first glance his impression was the same.
However, while analyzing game more deeply I managed to find some rather extraordinary variations which remained of the screen.
Especially noteworthy was the realization why White can't go for 21 Nc7 instead of 21 Re5!. I cannot highly recommend to check at least that variation since it witnesses a very nice Bxf3!! sacrifice and some rather complex queen maneuvres.
Therefore, once again Botvinnik's ancient quote proved to be correct:
"I don't give a damn about opinion of majority. I am used to thinking with my own head."
To sum up, DRAWING conclusion for the first half of the match has to be connected with the immortal Giri tweet after his 14/14 draws at the Candidates.
The first half of the match proved to be a very close encounter. Both players have played very cautios chess. Consequently, the character of play was highly technical and "dry" for the spectators. It seems like the main concern of both players is not to lose a game. As the match progresses, every lost game is more costly.
Furthermore, psychological aspect becomes even more important in the second half in the match. Especially relevant will once again be the champion's adjustment to the new situation. In the previous matches he has always scored in the first half of the match. Due to missed chances in the first half, he might become overagressive, as we witnessed in game five.
Therefore, tiebreaks shouldn't be excluded as an option. Probably playing in "extra time" is something that Karjakin's match strategy is based upon. Since Magnus is the one playing better, an effect of "randomness" accompanying shorter time controls might be something Karjakin is hoping for.
Opposite to him, Magnus would probably rather avoid such format. Although it is not clear whether that would be disadvantageous to him, since both in rapid and blitz he became World Champion as well.
As my favourite youtube user Nobbel87 would say, only time will tell.