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Second draw between Carlsen and Nepomnyashchi

Magnus Carlsen has apparently decided to take an early lead in his fifth world championship fight. He doesn’t want to give Jan Nepomnyashchi an opportunity to get used to the unfamiliar duel situation through a few quiet games. Before the match, Carlsen noted that his opponent played worse after setbacks. He is happy to help, even if it involves risks.

Curiously, as in the first game, it was the eighth move in which Carlsen gave his challenger a sharp knight move associated with a pawn sacrifice, which has not been played much by humans until now, but all the more often in the latest chess programs that use neural networks. The defending champion had opened his first white game with the queens’ pawn. Nepomnyashchi usually plays the Grünfeld Indian, which was invented exactly a hundred years ago in Vienna, but this has not yet proven itself in World Cup matches because White has many options and can work something out while preparing for a match. Instead, there was a Catalan opening.

Apparently they surprised each other. When the second World Cup game was ten moves old, both were outside of their prepared move order and the position was already incredibly complex. Carlsen had good pawn play and a chance of an attack on the king, but Nepomnjschtschi had one more pawn. Soon it was also a quality besides the peasant. This is the technical term when a tower is exchanged for a minor figure such as a jumper or a runner. Afterward, Carlsen conceded. “I wasn’t about to sacrifice quite as much as I did.” On his 17th move, he miscalculated. If he hadn’t sacrificed more material, he would have faced a fight for a draw. At least he had a knight fixed in the middle of the opposing camp and a few threats against the black king.

“I had no idea who was better and why,” said Carlsen afterwards. Nepomnyashchi put it this way: “It was a crazy game. I really didn’t know what was going on. At the board I thought we both weren’t playing very well. ”The commentators particularly criticized his 24th and 26th moves. Instead of the pawn moves, they said he should have moved his queen before his king.

Later, Carlsen even got an advantage again, but with only two minutes to think about his fortieth move – after that there is an hour to think about the next twenty moves – he saw no clear path and gave Nepomnyashchi the opportunity to sacrifice quality to escape worse, but enough to a draw endgame. The Russian did not hesitate. After 58 moves, the second draw was perfect.

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