Saturday, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana extended their record-setting streak by drawing the eleventh game of their World Championship match. It is the longest streak to start a title match in history.
On Monday, in Game 12, they will have one more chance to clinch the title in regulation. If neither player can win, the match will proceed to tie-breakers on Wednesday.
The score in the best-of-12 match stands at 5.5 points apiece. (Each win is worth a point and each draw a half point.)
In Game 11, Carlsen, 27, the World Champion from Norway, had White and opened with 1 e4, as he had in Game 6. Caruana, 26, who is American, replied with 1… e5 and then, just as in Game 6, opted for the Petroff, or Russian, Defense.
On Move 4, Carlsen varied from the earlier game with the standard retreat, 4 Nf3. The game then followed a well-known and heavily analyzed line. Caruana had little trouble equalizing and, after queens were traded on Move 13, he faced only incidental problems.
Carlsen tried to shake things up with 15 Nh4 and 16 Ng6, but after a series of exchanges from Moves 17 to 25, there were only bishops of opposite color and symmetrical pawn structures left. Though Caruana later blundered a pawn, it made absolutely no difference – Carlsen no longer had any reasonable winning chances.
The players agreed to a draw after 55 moves.
The match has a prize fund of a million euros (about $1.1 million), with 60 percent for the winner, or 55 percent, if the winner is decided by the tie-breakers.
The match is organized under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, the game’s governing body, and World Chess, the official organizer of the World Championship cycle.
The venue for the event is in central London at The College in Holborn, an historic, Victorian-style building. Fans can watch online at Worldchess.com, the official site of the championship.
The match’s sponsors include PhosAgro, a giant, Russian-based international fertilizer company; Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top information security companies; S.T. Dupont, a leading French luxury goods manufacturer; Prytek, a Russian venture capital company specializing in technology and financial services; and Unibet, an online gambling operator that operates in more than 100 countries.
The string of draws is certainly frustrating for fans and probably for the players themselves, but that is the danger when two foes face each other who are evenly matched. Carlsen and Caruana are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and they are only separated by three points in the rankings.
While Carlsen may have had an important edge at the start of the match, based on having played several title matches, that edge is now largely gone, as Carlsen acknowledged during one of the press conferences. Caruana is now as comfortable, or uncomfortable, as Carlsen.
Should the match go to tie-breakers, however, then Carlsen will once again have an advantage. The first four games would be at a rapid time control (25 minutes for each player with 10 seconds added after each move). At that time control, Carlsen is ranked No. 1, and has won World Championships, while Caruana is ranked No. 10.
If neither player should win the rapid games, then they would go to blitz games (five minutes per player with three seconds added after each move). There, Carlsen’s edge is even more pronounced as he No. 1, and has won World Championships in blitz, while Caruana is No. 18.
Game 12 is Monday at 3 PM local, or GMT, time.
11 games, 11 draws – @theworldchess Championship final is poised on a knife-edge ahead of Monday’s potentially decisive Game 12! #CarlsenCaruana2018 pic.twitter.com/GAukBdV36L
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) November 25, 2018