World chess champion Magnus Carlsen could make no headway at the board in the 10th game of his scheduled 14-game match with Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai, but the tame 41-move draw Wednesday brought the Norwegian champion ever closer to retaining the title he has held since 2013.
The draw leaves Carlsen with a massive 6½-3½ lead over the Russian grandmaster. He needs just 1 point over the final four games, and the computer oddsmakers give him a more than 99% chance of succeeding.
Game 10 featured an odd sideline of the Petroff’s Defense, with Carlsen retreating his knight to d3 instead of the more customary f3-square on his fourth move. The final result might be considered a moral victory for the Russian challenger, who lost three of the four previous games, including the last two through catastrophic blunders in relatively simple positions.
The queens came off on Move 10, and after 16. Nxe6 Bxe6, the material balance was dead even and the pawn structures were perfectly symmetrical. After the last two rooks were traded on Move 40, each player was left with a knight, four queenside pawns, and no realistic way of gaining an advantage.
After a rest day, Game 11 will be played Friday with Nepomniachtchi having the White pieces and the advantage of the first move. If he somehow manages to fight his way back to a 7-7 tie, a one-day playoff of rapid and blitz chess has been scheduled for Dec. 15.
The moves of Game 10:
Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi, World Championship Match, Game 10, Dubai, December 2021
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nd3 Nxe4 5. Qe2 Qe7 6. Nf4 Nf6 7. d4 Nc6 8. c3 d5 9. Nd2 Nd8 10. Nf3 Qxe2+ 11. Bxe2 Bd6 12. O-O O-O 13. Bd3 Re8 14. Re1 Rxe1+ 15. Nxe1 Ne6 16. Nxe6 Bxe6 17. g3 g6 18. Ng2 Re8 19. f3 Nh5 20. Kf2 c6 21. g4 Ng7 22. Bf4 Bxf4 23. Nxf4 g5 24. Ne2 f5 25. h3 Kf7 26. Rh1 h6 27. f4 fxg4 28. hxg4 Bxg4 29. Rxh6 Bf5 30. Bxf5 Nxf5 31. Rh7+ Ng7 32. fxg5 Kg6 33. Rh3 Kxg5 34. Rg3+ Kf6 35. Rf3+ Ke7 36. Nf4 Kd6 37. Ng6 Re6 38. Ne5 Ne8 39. Rf7 Rf6+ 40. Rxf6+ Nxf6 41. Ke3 Draw agreed.
• David R. Sands can be reached at email@example.com.
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