World Championship: Carlsen hangs in for draw

In game nine of the World chess championship match in New York on Thursday, defending champion Magnus Carlsen drew with an increasingly confident Sergey Karjakin.

Magnus Carlsen survived a tough game to keep his hopes alive of retaining his crown. In game nine of the World chess championship match in New York on Thursday, the Norwegian drew with an increasingly confident Sergey Karjakin.

With just three games remaining, the Russian leads 5-4. He needs another 1.5 points to cause what would be one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World championship, while Carlsen has to strike back soon, with time running out.

The ninth game was the first one after the Russian stunned Carlsen to take the lead. That win in the eighth round seemed to have spurred Karjakin on, and he also had a rest day to savour his victory. On Thursday, he played more confidently than he did at any stage of this tournament.

Playing with white pieces, he opted for Ruy Lopez again, to which Carlsen defended with the Archangelsk variation. As it turned out, the defending champion had to bring out his defensive skills to stop Karjakin, who had a very strong position after Black erred with his knight on the 38th move.

Though Karjakin replied with a bishop sacrifice, it did not seem the best option: maneuvering his queen would have Carlsen in trouble. The players agreed to split the point after 74 moves, with queens and same-coloured-bishops on the board.

“It was in general a very difficult game so there were many difficult points, for sure,” said Carlsen. “I am just happy to survive.”

“Magnus defended brilliantly,” said Karjakin. “It was an interesting game.”