Magnus Carlsen roared back in the World Chess Championship Match in style as he defeated Sergey Karjakin in Game 10 to draw level at 5-5 with two games left to play in New York.
Trailing by a point after losing Game 8, the reigning World Champion capitalized on the position when Karjakin overlooked a sequence of moves that would have helped him draw the game and maintain his advantage with two more games to go. Instead, the missed opportunity by the Russian allowed Carlsen to capitalise on a small advantage to win with white pieces.
Karjakin opted for the drawish Berlin Defence but Carlsen managed to avoid the main line and steered the game to a position in which he was able to maneuvere his pieces around to create imbalances in his opponent’s defence.
Karjakin twice missed sequences that would have helped him draw the game. They reached an endgame in which Carlsen had a slight advantage and built on it. He had a pawn advantage and slowly improved his position to create things untenable for Karjakin.
The Russian Grandmaster committed the final error of the game when he misplayed his rook on the 56th turn and Carlsen managed to break through his defence and won the game in 75 moves, after a seven-hour-long battle that left both players exhausted. Many of the games in this match have gone the whole distance, lasting 6-7 hours before ending in draw and Carlsen said it was adding to the pressure.
The win was a huge relief for Carlsen as another draw would have doubled pressure on him as he would have had only two games to win the match. “It is a huge relief. I hadn’t won in 10 games and that hadn’t happened to me before.”
Now the Norwegian Grandmaster goes into the rest day on Friday in bullish mood, knowing that he has the advantage.
On his part, Karjakin would be feeling the pressure now. Having lost the advantage he gained by winning the eighth game, the Russian could now find it difficult to wrest it back.
Karjakin will have white pieces in the 11th game on Saturday and will have to go for broke to put his rival under pressure. He will have to take Carlsen out of his comfort zone, something all top players have been unable to do at most occasions. Karjakin will have to guard against over-pressing and committing the mistake that Carlsen did in the eighth game.