David’s FIDE World Championship Play of the Day: Game 4

David Howell's Play of the Day: Game 4

Magnus Carlsen celebrated his 31st birthday today – but his Russian rival Ian Nepomniachtchi wasn’t feeling generous when it came to gifts.

The pair played out another tense draw as the FIDE World Championship match score reached 2-2 with 10 games to play. Neither player is giving an inch, but one of them will have to force the breakthrough soon.

Commentating on every move from Game 4 of the €2 million match from the regular Tour studio in Oslo was Grandmaster David Howell.

Here, in the latest in a series of video analysis segments brought to you by the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, David picked out his Play of the Day.

Carlsen sprung a small surprise on move 1 as he played e4. The Norwegian had gone into a Catalan with the White pieces with some success in Game 2 and many pundits expected him to test that line again.

Nepo responded with a double king’s pawn opening and 2…Nf6 the super-solid Petroff, a favourite of the previous world title challenger Fabiano Caruana.

I've started with a lot more draws than this. When you play a forced line as today, you don't expect to hit very often, but the idea is to hit once in a while and take your opponent by surprise, and the other times you are usually gonna be okay.

Asked afterward whether he was surprised Nepo played the Petroff, Carlsen said: “No, he played it in the Candidates, so it was one of the main openings to prepare for.”

But after that the pair entered a game of deep preparation both had studied beforehand that included what appeared to be a novelty with 16… Qxb5 before the game fizzled out into a three-fold repetition.

Watch GM Danny King’s full recap of the game here:

It was the shortest game of the championship so far in terms of time, and lasted 33 moves – two more than Game 3. The game is Carlsen’s 18th consecutive classical draw in World Championship matches.

The last time the champ won was in 2016 – Game 10 of his defence against Sergey Karjakin.

“It’s okay,” Carlsen said afterward. “I’ve started with a lot more draws than this. When you play a forced line as today, you don’t expect to hit very often, but the idea is to hit once in a while and take your opponent by surprise, and the other times you are usually gonna be okay.”

Nepomniachtchi said he wasn’t certain, but he may have had the whole game in his notes.

Play will resume with Game 5 on Wednesday with commentary from David and the Tour team broadcast live on chess24.

For more on the day’s events read the match report here.

Suggested Articles