World Championship Game 8
The eighth game between Magnus Carlsen and Yan Niepomniashchy was played on 05/12/2021. The opening was a Petroff, as it was in game 4, but this time Carlsen played 3. d4 rather than 3. Nxd5. The position was symmetrical after 8 moves, but Niepomniashchy broke it by replying to 9. O-O with 9. … h5, allowing 10. Qe1+ whereupon Black played 10. … Kf8 with a view to developing the Rh8 via h6. Although symmetry had been broken, things remained pretty uneventful until they started warming up with 20. c4 dxc4 21. Bxc4 whereupon complications started developing with Niepomniashchy’s 21. … b5, allowing 22. Qa3+, winning a pawn. This was presumably a pawn sacrifice by Black to get better piece activity and so greater chances of attack against the white king, especially with White’s queen being a little out of play, and with expectations of possibly recouping the pawn later by picking off White’s isolated d-pawn. Seven moves later things had evolved into a Q + P ending with Carlsen two pawns up, but both kings open to perpetual checking, making conversion to a White win requiring a degree of cae, though it did look promising for White, and Carlesen had no problem winning.
It is difficult to see how Niepomniashchy can recover from going two games down with only 6 move games remaining; he needs 4½ out of 6 whereas Carlsen needs only 2½ out of 6.
Click here to play through Game 8, Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Yan Niepomniashchy.