A head injury sustained playing football wasn’t enough to put world chess champion Magnus Carlsen off in Game 9 as London’s big title match was left teetering on a knife-edge.
Norway’s 27-year-old rock star of chess tersely denied he was bothered by the very obvious black-eye as the latest round of his three-week-long contest with US challenger Fabiano Caruana ended all-square.
It was the ninth game in a row that finished in a draw – a record for the 130-year-old competition, surpassing the eight-game run in 1995 match between Garry Kasparov and Vishy Anand.
It was also Carlsen’s 14th draw in a row – the longest of his career – and the first time a world champion has appeared at the board sporting a shiner.
Magnus Carlsen’s black eye
Carlsen sustained the injury when he collided with a member of the Norwegian media while playing football on his rest day.
The culprit was later named as NRK reporter, Emil Gukild, who also sported a plaster on his head.
— Leon Watson ♛ (@LeonWatson) November 21, 2018
Carlsen was assessed by his team doctor who passed him fit to play.
Asked afterward if he suffered any pain during Wednesday’s three-and-a-half hour game, Carlsen replied: “No.”
Clearly disappointed, he said: “I felt like I had a comfortable advantage and then I just blew it,. I was poor.”
Going into the game Carlsen had appeared to make light of the incident, saying on social media that “the match is heating up”.
But in the post-match press conference, the champion appeared annoyed and frustrated giving one-word answers to several questions.
Carlsen and Caruana’s game lasted 56 moves but neither player could find a breakthrough.
The match, held at The College, Holborn, now enters game 10 of 12 on Thursday. In the event of a tie, the match will go to speed chess play-offs – the chess equivalent of penalties.
Australian Grandmaster Ian Rogers said: “It’s been friendly fire on both sides but no real breakthrough.”
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