World Championship Game 6
After a rest day on 02/12/2021, the sixth game between Magnus Carlsen and Yan Niepomniashchy was played on 03/12/2021.
It would appear that Carlsen’s opening preparation during the rest day, for playing the sixth game with White, was perhaps aimed at avoiding any preparation by his opponent. The game started 1. d4 Nf6 (as in game 2) Carlsen avoided 2. c4, and things continued 2. Nf3 (fairly non-committal) 2. … d5 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 (still holding back on c4) Niepomniashchy was the first to venture beyond the 3rd rank for a second time with 6. … c5.
Carlsen would appear to have opted for a game of “make up the opening as you go along” rather than test the relative efficacy of the two players’ opening preparation.
The first sign of tactical interest came with Niepomniashchy’s 11. … b5, after which White had the possibility of 12. Nfe5, opening up the B at g2. The move 11. … b5 is the sort which many club players would shy away from because they could not calculate precisely enough and preferred to play safe. In the event, Carlsen picked 12. Nce5, and after 12. … Nb4 13. Qb2 Bb7 14. a3 Nc6 15. Nd3 Bb6 16. Bg5 the players had completed their development, pawn structure was symmetrical, and neither side had weaknesses. The exchange sequence 17. Bxf6 gxf6 introduced some interest in that Carlsen had opted for B + 2N versus N+ 2B, and Niepomniashchy had opted for strengthening his central pawn mass at the cost of theoretically weakening his king’s position slightly. Minor piece exchanges soon made it white N versus black B, as far as minor pieces were concerned.
Potential interest resumed when Carlsen opted to trade his queen for two rooks. The resulting position was probably theoretically equal, but there was at least a slight chance of an attempt at exploitation of the imbalance by one side or the other, and Niepomniashchy gave it a try, resulting in a complicated tussle around the queen’s side pawns. As a result the game became the first of the series to be interesting to watch as there developed a serious possibility of a win.
At move 52 Niepomniashchy seemed to voluntarily give up his outside passed a-pawn, presumably feeling he could make progress with that avenue of attack, choosing instead to pursue a different approach – on the king’s side. Thereafter things got slowly but progressively worse for Black, to the point where White assumed the driving seat in the ending, and Niepomniashchy resigned at move 136.
Click here to play through Game 6, Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Yan Niepomniashchy.