World chess championship: Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi draw first game

World champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi tested the waters for 45 moves before settling for a draw in the first encounter of the best-of-14-game World chess championship match in Dubai late on Friday.

File picture of Magnus Carlsen.   -  The Hindu photo library

World champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi tested the waters for 45 moves before settling for a draw in the first encounter of the best-of-14-game World chess championship match in Dubai late on Friday.

The opener, where Nepo opened with white pieces, ended after a three-fold repetition of moves.

Following the opening lines of Ruy Lopez, Carlsen's decision to sacrifice a central pawn on the ninth move injected some immediate interest. .

Soon, commentating on the game, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand said, “White is a pawn up but look at this pawn structure. It is not the easiest pawn structure to use an extra pawn. Black probably has very good compensation.”

The early exchange of queens kept the position in balance. The players did not look surprised by moves pulled off by their rivals.

At times, Carlsen appeared to be in a position to seize control. But Nepo stayed sharp and precise in his choice of continuation. Finally, Nepo returned the extra pawn on the 36th move. Before long, the players repeated the moves and signed peace.

In the post-game press conference, Carlsen said he was not “particularly optimistic in terms of winning the game” but generally happy with the ideas he found over the board.

Nepo was magnanimous in acknowledging, “Fine game by Magnus” and said he felt exactly how “one feels after drawing with white pieces, which is normal these days.”

The second game, where Carlsen plays with white pieces, is scheduled for Friday.

The Moves: Game One

White: Ian Nepominachtchi (Rus); Black: Magnus Carlsen (Nor)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Na5 9. Nxe5 Nxb3 10. axb3 Bb7 11. d3 d5 12. exd5 Qxd5 13. Qf3 Bd6 14. Kf1 Rfb8 15. Qxd5 Nxd5 16. Bd2 c5 17. Nf3 Rd8 18. Nc3 Nb4 19. Rec1 Rac8 20. Ne2 Nc6 21. Be3 Ne7 22. Bf4 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Bxf4 24. Nxf4 Rc6 25. Re1 Nf5 26. c3 Nh4 27. Re3 Kf8 28. Ng2 Nf5 29. Re5 g6 30.
Ne1 Ng7 31. Re4 f5 32. Re3 Ne6 33. Ng2 b4 34. Ke2 Rb8 35. Kd2 bxc3+ 36. bxc3 Rxb3

(Position after Carlsen's 36th move)

37. Kc2 Rb7 38. h4 Kf7 39. Ree1 Kf6 40. Ne3 Rd7 41. Nc4 Re7 42. Ne5 Rd6 43. Nc4 Rc6 44. Ne5 Rd6 45. Nc4 Game Drawn.

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