We don’t know for sure if Woody Harrelson is the best chess player among Hollywood actors, but he was the first famous person who made the first move in the World Championship Match 2016, between Magnus Carlsen and Sergei Karjakin. His presence gives some extra popularity to the chess world. It will be cool to see such ‘super starts’ for the chess events.
For the first time, the challenger has White pieces in the match
Sergey Karjakin – Magnus Carlsen [C84]
Carlsen – Karjakin World Chess Championship New York NY USA (2), 12.11.2016
In the second game of the match, the Challenger played with the White pieces and the World Champion with Black. Karjakin started the game with the move 1.e4. Bobby Fischer, the former World Champion, once said was “best by test”. Carlsen didn’t surprise us in this game, so he played his pet system, e5. Carlsen declines the Berlin Defense, an opening that had appeared repeatedly in his previous two World Championship Matches in 2013 and 2014.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3
Black to play
This is a very solid move which doesn’t allow Black to play a variety of systems like Zaitzev, Breyer or Marshall. In the press conference, one journalist asked both players what they will advise the young players?
- Carlsen’s advice is to take chess not too seriously.
- Karjakin didn’t provide a clear piece of advice, but his move is very clear to amateur players.
With this move, White is cutting most of Black’s options. With 6.d3 White can develop his pieces normally and hope for a decent game. Similarly, this line cannot give a lot of options or a very sharp play for White. Thus, both players try to be rock-solid in the first games of the match.
6…b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a3 0-0 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Ba2 Be6 11.d4 Bxa2 12.Rxa2 Re8
White to play
Karjakin made an attempt to take control of the center with 11 d4, but Carlsen neutralizes his plan easily. His last move, 12…Re8, was a powerful prophylactic move. White cannot win the e5-pawn because Black will exchange the queens and then they will threaten the e5-knight with Bd6. White will reveal or unleash the power of the e8-rook, so e5-knight and the e4-pawn will be under heavy pressure.
The following variation is characteristic: [ 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxd1 15.Rxd1 Bd6 16.Nf3 Nxe4= ]
13.Ra1 Nc4 14.Re1 Rc8 15.h3 h6 16.b3 Nb6 17.Bb2 Bf8 18.dxe5 dxe5 19.a4 c6 20.Qxd8 Rcxd8 21.axb5 axb5 22.Ne2 Bb4 23.Bc3 Bxc3 24.Nxc3 Nbd7 25.Ra6 Rc8
White to play
This position is dead equal because both players have similar pieces and the pawn structure is symmetrical. Carlsen didn’t face any difficulties in the opening and if Karjakin would like to have real chances to fight for the World Championship match, now it is time to reveal his cards. I’m guessing that he has a very interesting opening preparation and he will go with more theoretical, critical and sharp lines in the next games.
26.b4 Re6 27.Rb1 c5 28.Rxe6 fxe6 29.Nxb5 cxb4 30.Rxb4 Rxc2 31.Nd6 Rc1+ 32.Kh2 Rc2 33.Kg1 ½-½