Both players had chances in the sharp struggle, but the result was a 58-move draw in the second game of the 14-game world chess championship match between titleholder Magnus Carlsen of Norway and challenger Ian Neponiachtchi of Russia Saturday in Dubai.
After another tense draw in the match’s opening game, the result leaves both players with one point. The first to reach 7 1/2 points in the month-long match will be the winner and claim the lion’s share of the $2 million purse.
Carlsen has been champion since 2013 and successfully defended his title three times, but the Russian challenger has managed to obtain promising positions in both games so far, only to let the advantage slip.
In Saturday’s game, a sharp Closed Catalan opening led to both players planting knights deep in their opponent’s territory, with Nepomniachtchi as Black applying so much pressure that White was forced to give up a rook for a knight.
But apparently hasty subsequent play by Nepomniachtchi allowed the champion to build up strong pressure, forcing Black on Move 37, in turn, to give up a rook to remove Carlsen dominating knight.
Carlsen emerged a pawn to the good in a rook ending, but with all the remaining pawns on the kingside, there was no chance for a breakthrough to obtain a passed pawn. The champion pressed his edge for more than a dozen moves, but the challenger did not crack and a draw was the result.
The third game, with Nepomniachtchi again having the advantage of the White pieces and the first move, will be played Sunday.
Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi, World Championship Match, Game 2, Dubai, November 2012
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 b5 8. Ne5 c6 9. a4 Nd5 10. Nc3 f6 11. Nf3 Qd7 12. e4 Nb4 13. Qe2 Nd3 14. e5 Bb7 15. exf6 Bxf6 16. Ne4 Na6 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nac5 19. Nd6 Nb3 20. Rb1 Nbxc1 21. Rbxc1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Rab8 23. Rd1 Ba8 24. Be4 c3 25. Qc2 g6 26. bxc3 bxa4 27. Qxa4 Rfd8 28. Ra1 c5 29. Qc4 Bxe4 30. Nxe4 Kh8 31. Nd6 Rb6 32. Qxc5 Rdb8 33. Kg2 a6 34. Kh3 Rc6 35. Qd4 Kg8 36. c4 Qc7 37. Qg4 Rxd6 38. exd6 Qxd6 39. c5 Qxc5 40. Qxe6+ Kg7 41. Rxa6 Rf8 42. f4 Qf5+ 43. Qxf5 Rxf5 44. Ra7+ Kg8 45. Kg4 Rb5 46. Re7 Ra5 47. Re5 Ra7 48. h4 Kg7 49. h5 Kh6 50. Kh4 Ra1 51. g4 Rh1+ 52. Kg3 gxh5 53. Re6+ Kg7 54. g5 Rg1+ 55. Kf2 Ra1 56. Rh6 Ra4 57. Kf3 Ra3+ 58. Kf2 Ra4 Draw agreed