- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2016

With time running out, champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway finally broke through the defenses of Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin to win Game 10 Thanksgiving Thursday in New York, tying their scheduled 12-game match at 5-5 with just two games to go. It was the champion’s first win of the match and a strong rebound from a painful loss in Game 8.

The Russian challenger employed the solid Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense, and analysts at first believed that Black missed a clear drawing line just 20 moves into the game. After 18. a4 Be6 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Nd2), Black can play 20…Nxf2+, when 21. Kg2 Nh4!+ forces White to agree to a perpetual check (22. Kg1 Nh3+ 23. Kh1 Nf2+) because Black comes out a pawn to the good after 22. gxh4? Qg6+ 23. Ng4 Nxg4.

But U.S. Grandmaster Wesley So later noted on ChessBase.com that Carlsen may have intended 20…Nf2+ 21. Kg1! Nh3+ 22. Kg2 Nhf4+ 23. gxf4 Nxf4+ 24. Rxf4 exf4 25. Nc2 e5 26. Qg4; Black has two pawns and a rook for two knights, but White’s knights actually have more scope than Karjakin’s rooks. 

Instead, the draw may have been there for the taking after 20…d5 21. Qh5?!, when now the subtle line 21…Nxf2+! 22. Kg2 (Kg1 Qg5! 23. Qxg5 Nh3+) Qf7! (threatening the crushing 23…Nf4+) 23. Kg1 Qf6! (again with the idea of 24… Qg5) 24. Kg2 Qf7, and White must acquiesce to repeating the line.

Instead, after the game’s 21… Ng5 22. h4 Nf3 23. Nxf3 Qxf3+ 24. Qxf3 Rxf3 25. Kg2 Rf7 26. Rfe1, White has a small but clear space advantage allowing his rooks and knight to play on both sides of the board while Black’s defensive set-up is far more constricted. The position might not be won, but White is able to press his opponent without fear of a counterattack and finally finds a way to break down Karjakin’s defenses.

The position opens up at last on 56. Rb1 Rhh7?! (Rc8 was tougher, as now the pawn break gives White’s rook the sixth rank and leaves all of Black’s pawns vulnerable) 57. b5! cxb5 58. Rxb5 d4 59. Rb6 Rc7 60. Nxe6 Rc3 61. Nf4 Rhc7 62. Nd5! Rxd3 63. Nxc7 Kb8 64. Nb5 Kc8 65. Rxg6 Rxf3, and Carlsen has won a critical pawn. In the final position, after 74. Kg5 Rh8 75. Kf6, White has the powerful threat of 76. Kg7, driving the Black rook from the defense of the h-pawn. Karjakin had no good counter and resigned.

The Russian will have the White pieces in Game 11, to be played Saturday at the Fulton Market atrium at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport complex. If the score is tied after 12 games, a one-day rapid playoff will be held on Nov. 30.

The moves of Thursday’s Game 10 were:

Carlsen-Karjakin, FIDE World Title Match, Game 10, New York City, Nov. 24, 2016

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. O-O d6 9. Nbd2 Nh5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Nc4 Nf4 12. Ne3 Qf6 13. g3 Nh3+ 14. Kh1 Ne7 15. Bc4 c6 16. Bb3 Ng6 17. Qe2 a5 18. a4 Be6 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Nd2 d5 21. Qh5 Ng5 22. h4 Nf3 23. Nxf3 Qxf3+ 24. Qxf3 Rxf3 25. Kg2 Rf7 26. Rfe1 h5 27. Nf1 Kf8 28. Nd2 Ke7 29. Re2 Kd6 30. Nf3 Raf8 31. Ng5 Re7 32. Rae1 Rfe8 33. Nf3 Nh8 34. d4 exd4 35. Nxd4 g6 36. Re3 Nf7 37. e5+ Kd7 38. Rf3 Nh6 39. Rf6 Rg7 40. b4 axb4 41. cxb4 Ng8 42. Rf3 Nh6 43. a5 Nf5 44. Nb3 Kc7 45. Nc5 Kb8 46. Rb1 Ka7 47. Rd3 Rc7 48. Ra3 Nd4 49. Rd1 Nf5 50. Kh3 Nh6 51. f3 Rf7 52. Rd4 Nf5 53. Rd2 Rh7 54. Rb3 Ree7 55. Rdd3 Rh8 56. Rb1 Rhh7 57. b5 cxb5 58. Rxb5 d4 59. Rb6 Rc7 60. Nxe6 Rc3 61. Nf4 Rhc7 62. Nd5 Rxd3 63. Nxc7 Kb8 64. Nb5 Kc8 65. Rxg6 Rxf3 66. Kg2 Rb3 67. Nd6+ Nxd6 68. Rxd6 Re3 69. e6 Kc7 70. Rxd4 Rxe6 71. Rd5 Rh6 72. Kf3 Kb8 73. Kf4 Ka7 74. Kg5 Rh8 75. Kf6 Black resigns

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