This wasn't the longest game in WCC but it was a very fighting one. In 155 moves, Carlsen tried and squeezed every little drop of water out of the stone but he didn't manage to break down Caruana's defense.
We may also remember his match against GM Karjakin; in which he lost some chances on games 3 and 4. After that everything becomes very difficult for the World Chess Champion and very hardly equalizes the March at the end of it.
In this very first game of the march, against Caruana, he also loses a winning chance and it might cost to him letter. When you are playing the top players in the world you will not have many opportunities to win the game.
I'd like to emphasize at this point that Magnus had a winning or very big advantage during the game, but it was very hard to transpose it in the full point of victory. When we are sitting comfortably on our couch with the very strong computer running all the tactical possibilities everything is a simile. However, it's a different scenario to facing the number two in the world with your clock to ticking.
Report From Amazing GM Daniel King
Normally in the World Championship Match, the players tend to play relatively solid openings because they don't like to take risks. On the other hand in the first game of the match, we can see a very strange opening, like Trompowsky which Magnus chose against karjakin in 2016. The reason behind it is to avoid the big theoretical preparation. Magnus would later say he wasn't 'in the mood for a draw', and that was clear early on as he played the Sicilian Defense.
2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
The Rossolimo Variation is the favorite weapon of the Challenger.
3...g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bg7 6.h3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nd7
[7...b6 The move 7...b6 was played between the same opponents 3 years ago. 8.Be3 e5 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 Qe7 11.Qb1 Nh5 12.b4 f5 13.bxc5 f4 14.Bd2 bxc5 15.Qb3+ Be6 16.Qa4 Rac8 17.Qa5 g5 18.Na4 g4 19.hxg4 Bxg4 20.Qxc5 Qf6 21.Nh2 f3 22.Nxg4 Qg6 23.Qe7 fxg2 24.Rfb1 Qxg4 25.Qg5 Qe2 26.Qe3 Qg4 27.Qg5 Qxg5 28.Bxg5 Nf4 29.Bxf4 exf4 30.Kxg2 f3+ 31.Kf1 Rf4 32.c3 Rd8 33.d4 Bh6 34.Ke1 Rxe4+ 35.Kd1 c5 36.Kc2 cxd4 37.Kd3 Re2 38.c4 Rxf2 39.Rd1 Re2 0–1 Caruana,F (2820)-Carlsen,M (2862)/Wijk aan Zee 2015]
[8...b6 9.Qd2 h6 10.0–0 e5 11.Nh2 g5χ 1/2 (44) Caruana,F (2787)-Nakamura,H (2793) Saint Louis USA 2015]
9.0–0 b6 10.Nh2 Nf8 11.f4 exf4 12.Rxf4 Be6!? 13.Rf2 h6
Grischuk: "Such kinds of positions with lots of possibilities for both sides are somewhat beneficial to Magnus, because he's going to play much faster than Fabiano" He already senses time trouble ahead! Fabiano would later echo that comment in the post-game press conference: I was sort of familiar with the line, but it is a bit confusing because there are many different ways that Black can play and all moves more or less the same, and I couldn't quite remember exactly how I should play this position. Already I was trying to find some sort of idea after h6, unsuccessfully.
14.Qd2 g5 15.Raf1 Qd6 16.Ng4
Caruana said: 'I played a bit too directly with Ng4. After I played it I immediately started to regret it'
16...0–0–0 17.Nf6 Nd7 18.Nh5 Be5 19.g4 f6 20.b3 Bf7 21.Nd1 Nf8!?
[21...Kb7 22.c3 Bxh5 23.gxh5 Qe7 24.Qe2 Rhg8µ With the idea to play Nf8-Ne6 and then to continue his attack in the kingside.; 21...Bxh5!?]
22.Nxf6 Ne6 23.Nh5 Bxh5 24.gxh5 Nf4 25.Bxf4 gxf4 26.Rg2
[26.Rxf4!? This is a very interesting exchange sacrifice in order to complicate the game and dominate in the center. After this sacrifice, the Knight will go to f5 with a very solid position for White. However, it's very easy to analyze this possibility with the computer opened but it's extremely difficult to judge it during the game. In one of the lines, White should give up the queen for 2 rooks and it makes even harder to play 26. Rxf4!? 26...Bxf4 27.Qxf4 Qd4+ 28.Ne3 Kb7 (28...Rdf8 29.Qxf8+ Rxf8 30.Rxf8+ Kb7 31.Rf7+ Ka6 32.Rf3=) 29.Kh1 Rdf8 30.Nf5=]
26...Rhg8 27.Qe2 Rxg2+ 28.Qxg2 Qe6 29.Nf2 Rg8 30.Ng4 Qe8!
Black will capture back White's extra pawn and the Knight on g4 is not solidly placed. Black have a small but stable initiative.
31.Qf3 Qxh5 32.Kf2 Bc7 33.Ke2
[33.e5 Kb7 34.Nf6 This is a computer line. It's extremely difficult for a chess player to start such tactics in a difficult position. Now it looks that White have a double attack but Black can avoid it easily by giving a check on h4 and continue his attack. 34...Qh4+‚]
[34...Qe5! This is the strongest move to play because it centralized the Queen and prepare to attack the weak pawns on the Queenside. Perhaps Carlsen relaxed on he believed too much in the control of the open file.]
35.Rf2 Qg1 36.Nf1 h4 37.Kd2
[37.e5!? This is an esting option to play for the active defense. In any case, the position remains difficult for White. 37...Rg5 (37...Bxe5 38.Qxc6+) 38.Kd2 Kb7]
[38...Rg3! Again it's very easy to analyze this move with the computer engine but it is difficult to play it over the board. It doesn't secure the win and White maybe have a counter play with e-pawn. In the light of that Carlsen declined it during the game. 39.Nxg3 hxg3 40.Re2 Qa1 41.e5 Qb2+ 42.Kd1 Qb1+ 43.Kd2 Qxa2+ 44.Kd1 Qxb3+ 45.Kd2 Qb2+ 46.Kd1 Qxc3 47.e6 c4! 48.e7 cxd3 49.e8Q Qb3+ 50.Kc1 d2+! 51.Rxd2 Qxf3–+]
Caruana stated that 'it was only when Magnus played 39...Qg7 that I felt like I might escape this one.' [39...b5! With the idea to play b4.]
Actually, this move let all the advantage go because he exchanged a very strong pawn on f4 with a side pawn c3.
41.Qxf4 Bd4 42.Qf7+ Ka6 43.Qxg7 Rxg7 44.Re2 Rg3 45.Ng4 Rxh3 46.e5 Rf3 47.e6 Rf8 48.e7 Re8 49.Nh6 h3 50.Nf5 Bf6
A lot of pawns exchanged and White is going to play either d4 or b4. Then the endgame which will arise, 2 vs 3 pawns on the queenside, is drawn.
51.a3 b5 52.b4 cxb4 53.axb4 Bxe7 54.Nxe7 h2 55.Rxh2 Rxe7 56.Rh6 Kb6 57.Kc3 Rd7 58.Rg6 Kc7 59.Rh6 Rd6 60.Rh8 Rg6 61.Ra8 Kb7 62.Rh8 Rg5 63.Rh7+ Kb6 64.Rh6 Rg1 65.Kc2 Rf1 66.Rg6 Rh1 67.Rf6 Rh8 68.Kc3 Ra8 69.d4 Rd8 70.Rh6 Rd7 71.Rg6 Kc7 72.Rg5 Rd6 73.Rg8 Rh6 74.Ra8 Rh3+ 75.Kc2 Ra3 76.Kb2 Ra4 77.Kc3 a6 78.Rh8 Ra3+ 79.Kb2 Rg3 80.Kc2 Rg5 81.Rh6 Rd5 82.Kc3 Rd6 83.Rh8 Rg6 84.Kc2 Kb7 85.Kc3 Rg3+ 86.Kc2 Rg1 87.Rh5 Rg2+ 88.Kc3 Rg3+ 89.Kc2 Rg4 90.Kc3 Kb6 91.Rh6 Rg5 92.Rf6 Rh5 93.Rg6 Rh3+ 94.Kc2 Rh5 95.Kc3 Rd5 96.Rh6 Kc7 97.Rh7+ Rd7 98.Rh5 Rd6 99.Rh8 Rg6 100.Rf8 Rg3+ 101.Kc2 Ra3 102.Rf7+ Kd6 103.Ra7 Kd5 104.Kb2 Rd3 105.Rxa6 Rxd4 106.Kb3 Re4 107.Kc3 Rc4+ 108.Kb3 Kd4 109.Rb6 Kd3 110.Ra6 Rc2 111.Rb6 Rc3+ 112.Kb2 Rc4 113.Kb3 Kd4 114.Ra6 Kd5 115.Ra8 ½–½
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