David’s FIDE World Championship Play of the Day: Game 6

David Howell's Play of the Day: Game 6

The touchpaper was lit on the FIDE World Championship today as the event exploded into life with an extraordinary first win that left fans gripped.

After five tight draws in a row, it was Magnus Carlsen who made the breakthrough against Russian rival Ian Nepomniachtchi in a marathon game that quite simply had it all.

Incredibly, it lasted nearly eight hours – twice as long in terms of time as any game so far – and was also broke the record for the longest game in World Championship history with 136 moves.

Picking over this epic, Meltwater Champions Chess Tour commentator David Howell chose his Play of the Day:

Game 6 saw Carlsen start with the White pieces and – like in Game 2, the most exciting game up until this point – the champ opted for the Catalan.

Both Carlsen and Nepo started strongly, but it was noticeable that the Russian was out of his prep early. In fact, the pair reached an entirely new position as early as move 10 – a rare feat at this level.

Yet again – the third time in the match – Carlsen had offered up a pawn sac in exchange for more activity. This time, however, Nepo thought long and hard before declining the offer.

I was running on fumes at the end — it's not easy!

The position appeared equal going into the middlegame but began to fray as the pair approached the first time control of 40 moves after two hours.

First, Nepo allowed Carlsen to build up a dangerous-looking advantage and then the champion found himself in serious time trouble and couldn’t press it home – a shaky 33rd move dissipating his edge.

A series of small inaccuracies appeared to give Nepo a chance and Carlsen according to the engines and the consensus of commentators, Carlsen was rocking. But the challenger also couldn’t capitalise, preferring instead to create complications.

The pair eventually negotiated the 40-move control intact but not without Carlsen having overlooked a golden opportunity as Nepo fell victim to a nervy inaccuracy.

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

I would say the last few moves before the time control I was mainly guessing. I had three minutes left and then I was hit by a bit of a nasty surprise that I hadn’t seen, so there was not much time.

Passing 40 and with an extra hour on the clocks, calm returned to the board and the game looked to be heading towards a long, slow grind.

But there were further fireworks as yet more time-trouble intervened after the players both passed 60 moves – the first time in the match the second control had been reached.

Carlsen ran his clock down to near zero calculating his 75th move, before trading his queen for two rooks and what seemed a favourable endgame which he patently converted.

The epic encounter broke the record for the longest game in a world championship, previously set in 1978 in Baguio City, Philippines, when challenger Viktor Korchnoi stalemated titleholder Anatoly Karpov on the 124the  move.

Play will resume with Game 7 on Saturday with commentary from David and the Tour team broadcast live on chess24.

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

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