Magnus Carlsen played a blinder in the opening today as Fabiano Caruana tried to warm-up the World Chess Championship, but it ultimately failed to ignite.
Carlsen-Caruana Game 5 ended in yet another draw, this time agreed after three and a quarter hour and 34 moves, following a fascinating period of play in the opening between champion and challenger.
Carlsen, playing Black, opted against for the Sicilian and Caruana took it down the Rossolimo route for the third time in the match.
But this time there were early fireworks as Caruana sacked a pawn with the aggressive Evans Gambit-style 6.b4 – a surprise move which drew gasps among the spectators.
It led to a Sicilian-Benko hybrid structure, completely different from the previous two games played in the Rossolimo.
White was down a pawn but up in development and looking dangerous. Caruana, yet again, was still clearly in his prep and moving fast.
However, with 12… b4! and then 13… Qa5! Carlsen found the best moves at the right times to steer himself to safety.
From move 21 the game entered a forced line which resulted in exchanges. Carlsen had successfully taken the sting out of the position.
Carlsen Caruana Game 5 press conference
Caruana described the game afterward as “a well-played game with some fireworks”.
He added: “I can only play for a win if I get something and I can only really be disappointed that I missed a chance if I get some sort of chance in the game.
“And if a game is like this where we both play more or less correctly and neither of us makes a serious mistake, I don’t think that I can really be disappointed.”
He added: “Of course double black is coming up and this is a quite a serious challenge, but this was always going to happen.
“And whether I win or draw (today’s game), this was still going to happen. So I wasn’t approaching this game differently than any other game.”
The champion, meanwhile, was very entertaining in the Carlsen Caruana Game 5 press conference. More on that here.
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Leon is a national newspaper journalist from London, England. He is an avid chess fan, and writes regularly about the game. Apart from chess, he loves cricket, Tottenham Hotspur FC and spending time with his son.