Thursday, 29 November 2018

Carlsen Retains Title After Tie-Breaks

After 12 drawn games in the 2018 World Championship Match, Magnus Carlsen has retained his title in a very one sided tie-breaker. He needed only 3 games of rapid chess (25m+10s) to defeat Fabiano Caruana, winning all 3 games in a fairly dominant performance.
Game 1 of the tie-break match probably set the scene, with Caruana being punished for having a truly horrible pawn structure. While this does not seem to be such an issue at longer time controls, Carlsen was able to target multiple weaknesses before reaching a winning rook and pawn ending. After that Caruana was always playing catch up, and Carlsen was able to take advantage of Caruana's attempts to unbalance the position.
While Carlsen was clearly the better player at the faster time controls, I do feel that Caruana deserved a better finish to the match. He match Carlsen for preparation during the main match, and showed that he was not intimidated by Carlsen's reputation as a 'grinder'. By the end of the match Carlsen was certainly aware of this as well, which possibly explains why Carlsen offered an early draw in game 12 of the main match.
Having gone through experience of playing such a high level match, I would not be surprised if Caruana is the challenger for the next World Championship Match, and if he is I suspect the odds of a change of Champion will be much shorter.

Carlsen,Magnus (2835) - Caruana,Fabiano (2832) [A22]
WCh Rapid TB 2018 London ENG (1), 28.11.2018

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