Carlsen keeps lead in world chess title fight after tame Game 7 draw

Carlsen keeps lead in world chess title fight after tame Game 7 draw

After a titanic 136-move victory Friday that clocked in as the longest game in the 150-year history of world chess championship matches, Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen comfortably held a draw with the Black pieces against Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, retaining a one-point lead at the halfway point of their scheduled 14-game title fight in Dubai.

With both players understandably drained by the previous day’s epic struggle, Nepomniachtchi played unambitiously in another Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall line, agreeing to several tension-draining exchanges in the center and on the queenside. When the smoke had cleared, both players had three pawns and a rook — all on the kingside — with no realistic chance for either side to breakthrough.

Match rules bar draw offers before the 40th move and the end of the first time control, and the players agreed to split the point almost immediately after that. The Russian challenger himself said after the game that the play had been a bit “boring.”

But the result keeps Carlsen ahead by 4-3, and the champion will have the advantage of the White pieces and the first move in four of the remaining seven games. Nepomniachtchi has generated real chances in the early games of the match, but has yet to come close to a knockout.

If the score is tied after 14 games, a one-day playoff of rapid and blitz games on December 15 will decide the winner. Game 8, with Carlsen having the White pieces, will be played Sunday, followed by the match’s third scheduled rest day.

The moves of Game 7:

Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen, World Chess Championship, Game 7, Dubai, December 2021

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 Rb8 9. axb5 axb5 10. h3 d6 11. d3 h6 12. Nc3 Re8 13. Nd5 Bf8 14. Nxf6+ Qxf6 15. c3 Ne7 16. Be3 Be6 17. d4 exd4 18. cxd4 Bxb3 19. Qxb3 Ng6 20. Rec1 c5 21. e5 Qf5 22. dxc5 dxc5 23. Bxc5 Bxc5 24. Rxc5 Nxe5 25. Nxe5 Rxe5 26. Rxe5 Qxe5 27. Qc3 Qxc3 28. bxc3 Rc8 29. Ra5 Rxc3 30. Rxb5 Rc1+ 31. Kh2 Rc3 32. h4 g6 33. g3 h5 34. Kg2 Kg7 35. Ra5 Kf6 36. Rb5 Kg7 37. Ra5 Kf6 38. Rb5 Kg7 39. Ra5 Kf6 40. Ra6+ Kg7 41. Ra7 Draw agreed