World Championship Game 11
The eleventh game between Magnus Carlsen and Yan Niepomniashchy was played on 10/12/2021.
Whilst few would expect anything other than a match win for Magnus Carlsen, a game win for Yan Niepomniashchy would be a welcome morale boost for the challenger.
Having abandoned 1. e4 for an outing with 1. c4, Niepomniashchy went back to 1. e4. Carlsen invited another Ruy Lopez, but Niepomniashchy varied with 3. Bc4 (Italian Game, in modern nomenclature), so diverging from his earlier dedication to 3. Bb5 (Ruy Lopez). Carlsen’s response was 3. … Nf6, rather than 3. … Bc5 (Giuoco Piano), though after White’s restrained 4. d3, Carlsen played 4. … Bc5, making things essentially a Giuoco Pianissimo. By move 20 things were getting quite interesting, and too complicated for mere mortals to evaluate. With 23. g3 Niepomniashchy invited an exchange sacrifice by Carlsen, which invitation was accepted with 23. … dxe3. Was Niepomniashchy going for a win? With 26. Kg1, he seemed to be acquiescing to a draw, though he might have been goading Carlsen into going for a win. However, in that case, would Carlsen try for a win? Carlsen seemed to indicate the answer to that was “Yes”, and opted for 26. … Nf5 rather than 26. … Rd6 27. Rxe3 Rg6+ 28. Rg3 Rxg3+ 29. fxg3 and so on. After 26. … Nf5 27. d6 Nh4 28. fxe3, one line illustrating the point of 27. d6 was 28. .. Nf3+ Kf2 29. Qh2+ Kxf3 30. Qxc2 dxc7. The complications resolved in exchanges in which Black regained the exchange and went a pawn up in an ending with Black having R + 6P v White’s R + 5P, which was not a winning recipe for Niepomniashchy, Carlsen having again out-calculated his opponent.. However, the ending would potentially be instructive for onlookers. Niepomniashchy created passed a-pawn while Carlsen sacrificed his rook to promote his h-pawn, but the queen proved too strong, Niepomniashchy has to resign, taking Carlsen’s match score to the winning game score of 7½ to his opponent’s 3½.
Thus Carlsen retained the World Championship.
Niepomniashchy may seem to have done less well than the previous two challengers, both of whom scored 50% in the initial standard-play phase, but lost at the rapid-play tie-beak stage, but it could be argued that rather than play safe, Niepomniashchy was taking risks in an attempt to win in the standard-rate stage, as Carlsen was even more likely to win at rapid play.
Click here to play through Game 11, Yan Niepomniashchy 0-1 Magnus Carlsen.