There was nothing spectacular about Game-11. Since the championship battle was theoretically reduced to two games after Carlsen’s win in Game-10, neither player wanted any adventure and they settled for a 34-move draw. Now they are level at 5½- 5½. On Saturday, Sergey Karjakin had the White pieces and he began with the Ruy Lopez opening. With the defending champion quickly adopting the Berlin defense, it was clear that the two guys wanted to avoid all risks. Now with just a solitary classical game remaining on Monday, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are in a dead heat. When the fight for the World Championship began on November 11, Carlsen was seen as a heavy favorite to retain his status as the World Champion but with 9 drawn games, Karjakin has shown himself as Carlsen’s equal. If he had not erred in Game-9 like he did, the story could have been vastly different at this stage. On Monday, Carlsen will have the natural advantage of White pieces while Karjakin will do his best to stay in the championship and go for a battery of tiebreakers on Wednesday next.
When Game-11 of the World Chess Championship began on Saturday, Karjakin started with the standard 1.e4. This was on expected lines because Karjakin wanted to stick to the positions that he knew best. Carlsen responded with 1…e5 and they went on with the Ruy Lopez at 2.Nf3 Nc6; 3.Bb5 a6. In chess history, Ruy Lopez is regarded as the most classical opening since the 15th century. It all looked innocuous until Carlsen reverted back to the order he had used in earlier games, when he played 5…Be7. The champion avoided the risky variation of 5…b5; 6. Bb3 Bc5 that he had used in Game-9. That had landed him into a huge trouble before he could find an escape route. When White played 14…c5, he hoped to use his two kingside pawns and force the Black into some activity on the queenside. But Carlsen was as alert as ever and didn’t fall in any trap. White poked and prodded but Black held the balance intact. After 23. Rxf1 Qxe6 24. cxd4, Carlsen has a big decision to make. They had earlier indulged in a forced series of exchanges and although the champion created a few openings, he was generally moving towards the draw. Carlsen could have pushed his pawn to force Karjakin on the defensive, but decided instead to play a variation that would make him safe. They finally decided to sign the truce after 34 moves and began waiting for Monday’s Game-12.
So where do we go from here? They play the championship’s last classical game on Monday and if that game is also drawn, they go for the tiebreaks on Wednesday November 30. That is Magnus Carlsen’s 26th birthday as well. The Norwegian will not fancy any other gift more than the World Championship on the occasion. The tiebreak format has rapids, blitz and Armageddon. The rapids will be one 4-game match with 25 minutes and 10-second increment. If the scores are equal, they enter the blitz phase of 5 matches of two games, each of 5 minutes with 3-second increment. Therefore, after the classical games, the champion and the challenger will play 14 games in tiebreaks. If the decision doesn’t come even after these games, the 2016 World Chess Championship will be decided in an Armageddon game, which lends 5 minutes to White and 4 minutes to Black. However, a draw will make the player with Black as the World Champion.