Reports Nov 22, 2016 | 3:05 AMby Colin McGourty

Carlsen-Karjakin, Game 8: Sergey stuns Magnus

Sergey Karjakin is four games away from becoming World Chess Champion after winning Game 8 with the black pieces. An extraordinary encounter saw Magnus Carlsen again and again tempt fate by playing for a win until he blundered in a time scramble. When Karjakin returned the favour it seemed the story would be another Carlsen escape, but the position computers were claiming was a draw proved treacherous for a human to play. Karjakin found a brilliant path to victory and Magnus later stormed from the press conference in a rage. Match on!

Can Sergey Karjakin become World Champion in the year of the underdog? | photo: Vladimir Barsky, Russian Chess Federation

After seven draws you could sense the World Champion’s frustration was growing by the day, and in Game 8 he seemed determined to win with the white pieces at all costs – to the degree that our commentators wondered at one point if he wouldn’t prefer to lose than to draw. Since this is chess, and Magnus, that aggression wasn’t immediately obvious to the untrained eye. Carlsen followed Karjakin in switching to 1.d4, and went for the unassuming Colle-Zukertort system where White puts bishops on b2 and d3. Anish Giri voiced the plan behind that choice:

Magnus might not be in top form in New York, but he’s never lost that belief that he can outplay anyone on the planet from an equal position. The more pieces the better.

The problem, though, was that Karjakin put in one of his most confident opening performances yet, seemingly solving all his problems and crucially playing faster than his opponent. The trend was towards a position where mass exchanges and a draw would follow, which was when Magnus began to try and weave his magic. He retreated his queen and bishop to the back rank, encouraged Karjakin to make a first show of aggression with 18…Ng4 and then went for 19.Nb5!?:

Our commentary team felt Magnus wouldn’t have gone for this if he’d realised the strength of 19…Qg5!, but Sergey’s restrained 19…Bc6 20.a4 Bd5 must also have increased Magnus’ frustration. There were already signs this might not be his day:

He missed an interesting chance to capture with the pawn on c4 on move 22, and then finally decided to capture with the pawn on move 24, taking on serious strategic risks when, as Karjakin noted afterwards, if Carlsen took with the rook “he could never be worse”:


If Black can put a knight on c5 he’ll dominate, but this was still Magnus, and he managed to generate an extremely unbalanced position, where White’s control of the d-file, bishop on g2 and well-placed knight held real menace. Again, Magnus rushed past positions in which he could have forced a draw, until both players were mired in the first real time scramble of the match.

It reached fever pitch with 35.c5?, when, instead of accepting a slightly worse position he could probably hold, Carlsen was clearly losing for the first time in the match:

We learned in the post-game press conference that Karjakin had seen the winning move, but wasn’t sure it worked after 37…Qa4! 38.Qxb6, so he went for the line in the game having missed (in the 10 seconds available to him) that the sequence ended with 41.e4!


Svidler said that Karjakin “would be kicking himself horribly” for the missed win, while the players needed some time to recover:

Then, however, the game entered a strange twilight zone, when although the computers resolutely kept showing 0.00 it was far from obvious to human observers who was playing for what result. Again, Magnus went on to miss moves that seemed to give him excellent drawing chances, until suddenly – just after Svidler had commented, “I would lean more towards this position being a win [for Karjakin] than a draw, although the evaluation doesn't support that” – the move 51.Qe6 saw the Sesse supercomputer’s evaluation lurch to mate-in-35, though it required Karjakin to find the only move, 51…h5!!

He did, and Magnus knew the game was up. There can be few lonelier feelings:

The end was incredibly abrupt – 52.h4 a2! resigns


A neat final detail, since 53.Qxa2 runs into 53…Ng4+! 54.Kh3 Qg1! and that's all she wrote.


We now have a full one-hour recap on the game by Peter Svidler!

Niclas Huschenbeth also looked at the game:

While if you want to relive the whole day you can check out Peter's live commentary together with Jan Gustafsson:

But let’s get back to the game and its aftermath… Karjakin’s win was a result that reverberated around the chess world, even if the key moments had caught some off-guard:

We’d already seen Magnus almost speechless in his press conference after coming close to defeat in Game 5, and this loss was just too much to take. He knew it was a self-inflicted wound without having to be told about it:

First he skipped the individual interviews immediately after the game, and then while he sat waiting for his opponent at the press conference, with hundreds of fans and photographers focused on him, he cracked:

That could have potential consequences:

Though that’s not what will be uppermost in Carlsen’s mind right now.

Karjakin has been looking more confident the longer the match has gone on | photo: Vladimir Barsky, Russian Chess Federation

Sergey Karjakin, meanwhile, was in top form at the press conference, not only demonstrating that he’d been in control during the game, but also coming up with some great responses. He met a question about winning with Black with, “It’s much better to play well than to play White!” And when a kid asked him “How many games do you play a day to practice?”, he responded, “At this tournament – one!”

So where does that leave us? Well, first we have a rest day, which may not be ideal for Magnus:

And then Carlsen has the fight of his life on his hands. He’s never been behind in a World Championship match before, but of course there are plenty of examples he can draw on. In 2012 Anand bounced straight back to beat Gelfand after going behind in Game 7. Anand also came from behind in 2010 against Topalov, as did Kramnik against Topalov in 2006 and Leko in 2004, while for a New York example Kasparov lost to Anand in Game 9 in 1995 after 8 draws in a row, but then won four of the next five games to cruise to victory in the match.


So it’s been done before, and if anyone can do it it’s Magnus, but there are only four games to go and Sergey Karjakin is on the verge of realising a childhood dream:

He’s not going to give up without an incredible fight, making what comes next absolutely unmissable! Sergey will have the white pieces in Wednesday’s Game 9, and Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson will again be your guides.

Remember you can also watch the games in our free mobile apps:

         

See also:


Sort by Date Descending Date Descending Date Ascending Most Liked Receive updates

Comments 131

Guest
Guest 4663188277
 
Join chess24
  • Free, Quick & Easy

  • Be the first to comment!

Register
or

Create your free account now to get started!

I am aged 16 or older.

By clicking ‘Register’ you agree to our terms and conditions and confirm you have read our privacy policy, including the section on the use of cookies.

Lost your password? We'll send you a link to reset it!

After submitting this form you'll receive an email with the reset password link. If you still can't access your account please contact our customer service.

Data Consent Details

We respect your privacy and data protection guidelines.

Using chess24 requires the storage of some personal data, as set out below. You can find additional information in our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, Disclaimer and Terms of Website Use. Please note that your data settings can be changed at any time by clicking on the Data Settings link in the footer at the bottom of our website.

data details

Necessary Data

Some data is technically necessary to be able to visit the page at all. A so-called cookie stores identifiers that make it possible to respond to your individual requests. It contains a session ID - a unique, anonymous user ID combined with an authentication identifier (user_data). A security identifier (csrf) is also stored to prevent a particular type of online attack. All of these fields are alpha-numeric, with almost no relation to your real identity. The only exception is that we monitor some requests with the IP address that you are currently using, so that we are able to detect malicious use or system defects. Additionally, a technical field is stored (singletab) to ensure that some interactions are only processed in the browser tab that is currently active. For example, a new chess game will not be opened in all your current tabs. We use your local storage to save the difference between your local clock and our server time (serverUserTimeOffset), so that we are able to display the date and time of events correctly for you. You can also enable more data fields, as described in the other sections. Your personal decision on which data storage to enable is also stored as necessary information (consent).

Settings Data

We offer a range of personal settings for your convenience. Options include which opponents you prefer to be paired against, your preferred chessboard and pieces, the board size, the volume setting of the video player, your preferred language, whether to show chat or chess notation, and more. You can use our web page without storing this data, but if you would like to have your individual settings remembered we recommend enabling this feature. For logged-in registered users this setting is mandatory to store information about your privacy settings, users you have blocked and your friendship settings. As a registered user we also store your data consent in these settings.

Social Media Data

We embed a Twitter feed showing activity for the hashtag #c24live and also make it possible to share content in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If you enable this option social networks are able to store data in your cookies or local storage for the purpose of these features.

Statistics Data

We would like to measure how our page is used with Google Analytics, so that we can decide which features to implement next and how to optimize our user experience. If you enable this feature Google will store your device identifiers and we will send tracking events (such as page requests) to Google Analytics. These have no direct relationship to your person except for the IP address currently being used.

Marketing Data

To help cover the cost of free services we would like to show you advertisements from our partner networks. Members of these networks store data on the banners shown to you and try to deliver ads that are relevant. If you choose not to allow this kind of data we have to show more anonymous advertisements and will be more limited in the free services we can offer.

Other Data

For registered users we store additional information such as profile data, chess games played, your chess analysis sessions, forum posts, chat and messages, your friends and blocked users, and items and subscriptions you have purchased. You can find this information in your personal profile. A free registration is not required to use this application. If you decide to contact the support team a ticket is created with information that includes your name and email address so that we can respond to your concern. This data is processed in the external service Zendesk. If you subscribe to a newsletter or are registered we would like to send you occasional updates via email. You can unsubscribe from newsletters and as a registered user you can apply several mail settings to control how your email address is used. For newsletters we transfer your email address and username to the external service MailChimp. If you buy content or subscriptions on chess24 we work with the payment service provider Adyen, which collects your payment data and processes information about the payment such as fraud protection data.