Magnus Carlsen demolished Fabiano Caruana 3: 0 in quick
tiebreaks on Wednesday to hold his World Championship title for another two
years. He was defiant afterwards about his decision not to play on in Game 12,
saying Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik were "entitled to their stupid
opinions ", while he explained," one of the things I've never done very well
Listen to other people's advice. I've always gone my own way … and it's brought
me this trophy today! "
Relive the final day of the 2018 World Chess Championship
with our commentary team of Anish Giri, Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk,
with the added bonus that they started in the hour before the action in London
played blitz against each other:
And you can replay all the games using the selector below:
A bad start for Fabiano
Facing Magnus in any kind of rapid format is daunting, and
To do it on a World Championship stage with so much on the line is perhaps the
toughest challenge in chess:
There are bound to be nerves at the start, and when your
The opponent plays a very rare 4th move, as Magnus did with 4.e4, it can be
Hard to force yourself to stop and think:
Anish Giri felt Fabiano was already in blitz mode and
therefore quickly played 4 … 0-0 without pausing to seriously consider 4 … Bxc3. Then after 5.Nge2
He slowed down dramatically, but the position after 5 … c6 6.Bg2 a6 what is already extremely
unpleasant for Black.
Fabi soon ended up with a crippled pawn structure, before
the first moment of truth came after 19.Rcd1!
The pin down the d-file is threatening to be tired, and
Here Caruana took over 5 minutes to pick the wrong option. He needed to go for it
the ugly 19 … Nb7, stopping a piece landing on c5 at all costs, since after 19 … Nb5?
20.Nc5! Rxb2 21.Nxe6 Black's position was in ruins. It looked like Magnus
what about to pull off a smooth victory.
As in the first classic game of the match, however, things
did not work out so simply. Another great fork in the road came after 23 … exd4:
It was clear Magnus sensed the importance of this moment,
Since he thought for over 9 minutes, surrendering his lead on the clock. That
gave time for computers and grandmasters to spot a subtle option for White.
24.Rxd4! Kf7 25.Kh1 !! what surprisingly crushing. The point is that the king
steps out of Black's one idea: that 25.Red1? runs into 25 … Ne5! 26.Rxd8 Nxf3 +!
and Black saves the day with perpetual check. Grischuk noted that if Magnus
Found such an idea it would be evidence that he was in good shape and thinking
Norwegian hopes suffered a blow, however, when Magnus went for
the rook ending after 24.Bxe6 +, where he could torture Fabiano but the odds of
a draw was high. The World Champion needed some help, and he got it on the move 37, when Fabiano should have given a check to clear the f3 square for his king. Instead
he grabbed the e4-pawn:
Magnus responded with the brilliant 38.Re7 +!, which forces
White to take juicy pawn, but with the point that after 38 … Kxf5 the black king
is badly misplaced. Moves like this just come naturally to some people …
From there Magnus calmly went on to prove that White was
winning, and finally the dam had burst!
Magnus would later comment on the tiebreaks:
I feel that Game 1 was critical for the match. It was lost
tense and it was the breakthrough for me, and then in the second game I was not
so sure about my position, but after I won the first one I felt very calm.
Magnus does it again
Our commentary team was already worried for Fabiano before
Game 2 started:
Although Magnus now needs to draw he stuck to his guns
and played the Sveshnikov Sicilian, showing a new idea on move 11. Fabiano did not
Blink, though, and it looked like the kind of position he needed, at least
until he pushed 21.c5 !?
It was a bold decision based on the little tactic 21 … dxc5
22.Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Qb5 +, but after the cold-blooded 21 … 0-0 From Magnus it's likely
Fabi regretted the fact that he had not yet castled himself. He pressed on with
22.c6, but the next pawn push 26.c7? what a losing mistake:
After 26 … Bxc7 27.Nxc7 Ne5! White was in deep trouble, and
28.Nd5? was born out of desperation. 28 … Kh7! provoked resignation:
Fabiano would later sum up:
I had a very bad start, unfortunately, especially in the
second game, but I did not play my best chess today and Magnus I think played
The final chapter
If it had been an uphill struggle before, Fabiano Caruana now
Faced a cliff face – he needed to win the next two games, the first of them with
the black pieces, to prolong the match. If Magnus might have been confused, maybe have been tempted to pay a visit.
As Alexander Grischuk put it:
If Fabiano makes a comeback it will probably be the greatest
comeback in chess history and on the level of Liverpool's comeback against
Milan in the Champions League finals.
He did what he could, aiming to avoid simplifications
against Carlsen's super-solid structure and playing fast – though bitter
Experience was voiced by Grischuk:
Black was perhaps even microscopically better at some point,
But Magnus knew what he was doing and all that was on offer for Fabiano was a
draw. Then, at some point, even that was off the table. Grischuk again:
He wants 3: 0. This will be an excuse for the 12th game
excuse he does not really owe.
Sure enough, White's queenside ponds began to march and by
The end of the game White had an extra queen:
So Magnus had won the tiebreaks even more convincingly than
in New York and will now have his reign extended to 7 years by the time he
next defends his title in 2020. The party could begin, and the congratulations kept
rolling in (including a guy we'd almost forgotten …):
Garry Kasparov's comments on Carlsen's rapid skills echoed those of Alexander Grischuk, who had wondered about our live
show if Magnus actually has a "negative gap" in quality between its rapid and
classical skills – i.e. That he plays better in speed chess! However,
Garry had led the criticism of the draw Magnus made in Game 12, and wondered loudly if Magnus would be the favorite since his nerves seemed to fail him.
The World Champion took the chance to get back in the press conference!
Watch that in full:
Magnus later commented:
The match went the distance because of very tough defense
both players in tough positions, and it just shows you how difficult it is to
win games at this level. It was not for the sake of trying – except in the 12th
game, when it was exactly for the lack of trying! – but at that point I made a
Kind of decision that I felt very comfortable with at the time and I would have
believed to be the right one regardless of the result in the last game.
Magnus was full of praise for his opponent:
It's very special for me to win this time. I feel that
Fabiano was the strongest opponent I've played so far in a World Championship
match. In classical chess he has just as much right as I do at this point to call
himself the best in the world. I am very happy to have overcome this great
Challenge and I'll continue to work to get better in two years.
Fabiano returned the compliment, saying vg.no:
He deserves to be World Champion and he deserved to win this
match. We both had weak moments, but on the final day, the tensest day, he
showed good chess and I did not. So of course he deserved to win.
Fabiano had also prepared a statement:
On receiving his trophy Magnus predicted Fabiano would be back:
I'm very happy with the way the match ends, but I do not think we've seen it
last from Fabiano in this particular context.
But his speech will be remembered most for the 4-time World Champion and world no. 1 at classical, rapid and blitz chess reflecting on what had got him to where he was standing:
So after three intense weeks the match is over:
We hope you enjoyed the ride!