A quick refresher on the format for this world championship match. It will consist of 14 classical games with each player awarded one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. Whoever reaches seven and a half points first will be declared the champion. (Carlsen leads 4-3 over Nepomniachtchi at the midpoint.)
The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
If the match is tied after 14 games, tie-breaks will be played on the final day (16 December) in the following order:
• Best of four rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
• If still tied, they will play up to five mini-matches of two blitz games (five minutes for each player with a three-second increment).
• If all five mini-matches are drawn, one sudden-death ‘Armageddon’ match will be played where White receives five minutes and Black receives four minutes. Both players will receive a three-second increment after the 60th move. In the case of a draw, Black will be declared the winner.
Notably, Carlsen’s second and third title defenses both came down to tiebreakers. But many believe the increased length of this year’s match (from 12 to 14 games) and the stylistic matchup at hand promises a decisive result in regulation.
Hello and welcome back for the eighth game of the World Chess Championship. The overall score in the showdown between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi is 4-3 to Carlsen after the Norwegian’s breakthrough win in Friday’s Game 6, which surpassed the 124-move stalemate in Game 5 of the 1978 title match between Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi as the longest contest in the 135-year history of world championship matchplay.
Unsurprisingly, Saturday’s seventh game was a far shorter affair as the pair agreed to a quiet draw after 2hr 30min and took the opportunity to recover.
Nepomniachtchi, marshaling the white pieces, played 1 e4 before the pair blitzed out their opening moves into the same anti-Marshall line of the Ruy Lopez that had featured in each of the Russian’s three previous games as white (1 … e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3).
Carlsen took lengthy thinks of 33 combined minutes before his 12th and 15th moves, falling more than 20 minutes behind his opponent on time. But not long after the world No 1 gave up his stronghold in the center with the committal 17 exd4, a flurry of rapid simplification began and the action fizzled out fast.
For anyone just coming aboard, Carlsen, who turned 31 on Tuesday, has been at No 1 in the Fide rankings for 10 straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he dethroned Vishy Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, also 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April.
The best-of-14-games match is taking place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre with the winner earning a 60% share of the €2m ($2.26m) prize fund if the match ends in regulation (or 55% if it’s decided by tie-break games, as happened in Carlsen’s second and third title defenses).
We’re a little under a half-hour from today’s first move.