When his challenger sat bored in a quiet room backstage, at the end of the fourth game Magnus Carlsen thought longer about whether he should force a draw with one repetition than he had needed for all of his 29 moves before. In no variant did he discover an advantage for himself. Then better half a point than risking something.
On the first move, Carlsen switched from queens pawn to king pawns. Apparently he wanted to check what his challenger had prepared for it. Otherwise Jan Nepomnjaschtschi prefers Sicilian and sometimes plays French. Or he gets involved in Spanish or Italian. He almost never had Russian, but that was exactly what happened. Even Nepomnyashchi quipped afterwards: The Russian flag is not allowed to be on his board, but the Russian opening is allowed to him. If you don’t want to see a draw any more, you are more likely to ask: Couldn’t WADA have banned them at the same time?
With this solid, winning opening, completely different concrete has been touched in World Cup matches. Most recently in 2018 Fabiano Caruana. At that time Carlsen achieved nothing against Russian and even walked on the verge of defeat in the sixth game. The main variant of the idea that he brought up this Tuesday could have come about during the preparation for Caruana at that time.
“It could have been incredibly complicated”
Again it was a knight move to the edge that only a prepared player can bring to the board. But this knight is only supposed to attack the most vulnerable black pawn on d5 as quickly as possible, and the jump to the edge was the first on the long way there. On the other hand, Carlsen also renounced what others had previously only played in this position, namely to exchange the black a-pawn. This covered passed pawn should become the main trump card of his opponent.
Nepomnyashchi reacted sensibly, according to Carlsen: “What he played was only one of several possibilities. It could have been incredibly complicated. ”Even he maneuvered his well-traveled knight and a rook deep into the opposing camp, where she could force a repetition almost at any time if the position no longer pleased him. The pros call it: playing for two results. Nepomnjaschtschi only had to advance his passed pawn, but that was enough: Carlsen pulled the brake on the draw.
Afterwards, Carlsen let it be known that he played football for a long time on the Monday when there was no match: “I was always on the winning side. I don’t know whether they played badly on purpose, and if so, I don’t care. ”It is quite possible that he was spared in duels so as not to injure him. “I have often played against professionals and would have found it funny if someone missed a game because of me,” he admitted with a grin. Incidentally, a member of his team had exactly one task that day, namely to take him with him at the agreed time so that he didn’t overdo it.
Last question: Does he want to give something of his birthday cake – he turned 31 – to Team Nepomnyashchi? Carlsen wasn’t sure whether there would be cake at all, but he had one piece of advice ready: “In such duels you should never accept food from the opposing team.” Later there was a small present in the Carlsen lounge: a cake with candles in the form of a 3 and a 1.