- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Chess champion Magnus Carlsen tried a new opening with White Tuesday, but the result was the same: yet another draw in Game 4 of his title defense against Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The draw leaves their scheduled 14-game match in Dubai knotted at 2-2.

The Norwegian champion opened with 1. e4 Tuesday, after experiencing some opening discomfort with a Closed Catalan in Game 2. Nepomiachtchi appeared to surprise the champ with a Petroff’s Defense (2…Nf6), an opening he had never played before. White stuck with the main theoretical lines and obtained some mild pressure entering the middlegame — while using far more time on his clock than the Russian.

But an early queen trade left White struggling to generate chances, even after Carlsen was able to trade bishops and get a rook and a knight planted deep in his opponent’s position.

A passed a-pawn gave Black plenty of compensation, and in the end, a frustrated White settled for repeated checks against Black’s boxed-in king, leading to a draw after 36 moves.

Nepomniachtchi will again have the advantage of the White pieces in Wednesday’s Game 5 before the second rest day of the match. The first player to score 7½  points wins, with a one-day rapid and blitz playoff set for Dec. 16 if the players remain tied.

The moves of Game 4:

Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi, World Chess Championship, Game 4, Dubai, November 2021
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Re1 Bf5 10. Qb3 Qd7 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. Bxf5 Qxf5 13. bxc3 b6 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Qb5 Qd7 16. a4 Qxb5 17. axb5 a5 18. Nh4 g6 19. g4 Nd7 20. Ng2 Rfc8 21. Bf4 Bxf4 22. Nxf4 Rxc3 23. Nxd5 Rd3 24. Re7 Nf8 25. Nf6+ Kg7 26. Ne8+ Kg8 27. d5 a4 28. Nf6+ Kg7 29. g5 a3 30. Ne8+ Kg8 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. Ne8+ Kg8 33. Nf6+ Draw agreed

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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