World Chess Championship 2018: A quick round-by-round summary

By Leon Watson / On / In Fabiano Caruana, Magnus Carlsen, Uncategorised, World Chess Championship

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The World Chess Championship 2018 has been an enormous amount to take in – however much of a superfan you are.

By our (rough) calculations, there have been 637 moves and around 48 hours of chess in total.

Not to mention novelties, shocks, surprises and the odd celebrity.

So to make it easier to get a handle on, we’ve boiled each game down to its bare bones in our quick round-by-round summary of everything that has happened so far:

Round 1

White: Caruana

Opening: Sicilian Rossolimo

Result: Draw.

Andrey Guryev, Vice President and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Chess Federation, CEO of PhosAgro, Woody Harrelson, Arkady Dvorkovich, President of FIDE, Stepahne Escafre, The Chief Arbiter of the Match, Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion and Fabiano Caruana, US Challenger during the First Move Ceremony (Round 1) of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 on November 9, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for World Chess ) *** Local Caption *** Andrey Guryev; Woody Harrelson; Arkady Dvorkovich; Stepahne Escafre; Ilya Merenzon; Magnus Carlsen; Fabiano Caruana
Woody Harrelson makes the first move, or tries to

Moves: 115

Length of game: Seven hours

Flash verdict: A marathon grind leaves Carlsen kicking himself after missing a winning opportunity with 34… Qe5. He nearly became the first champion to win Game 1 of a world title match as black in 37 years.

Thrills from Carlsen, and spills from Woody: Our Round 1 report


Round 2

White: Carlsen

Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined

Result: Draw.

Carlsen opened with 1.d4
Carlsen opened with 1.d4

Moves: 49

Length of game: Three and a quarter hours

Flash verdict: Caruana comes back faster, more confident and better prepared. He surprises Carlsen in the opening and the champion then has to defend for the entire game and at the end hold a pawn-down rook endgame.

Speedy Caruana can’t break through Carlsen’s defences: Our Round 2 report


Round 3

White: Caruana

Opening: Rossolimo Sicilian

Result: Draw.

Carlsen-Caruana Game 3: a bore draw
Carlsen-Caruana Game 3: a bore draw?

Moves: 49

Length of game: Four and a quarter hours

Flash verdict: Caruana gets a promising position out of the opening but then wavers and has to defend doggedly against Carlsen.

‘Deadlock’ in Carlsen-Caruana match after third draw: Our Round 3 report


Round 4

White: Carlsen

Opening: English Opening

Result: Draw.

Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano shake hands before the start of Round 4
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano shake hands before the start of Round 4

Moves: 34

Length of game: Less than three hours

Flash verdict: Not much going on here in this 34-move draw, although Carlsen did offer a novelty with 11. b4, played in less than three hours. Much more interesting was what was happening off the board with Caruana’s YouTube controversy.

Fabiano Caruana’s prep accidentally uploaded to YouTube


Round 5

White: Caruana

Opening: Rossolimo Sicilian

Result: Draw.

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales makes the ceremonial first move
Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales makes the ceremonial first move

Moves: 34

Length of game: Three-and-a-quarter hours

Flash verdict: Carlsen weathers early fireworks from Caruana to negotiate a peaceful result.

Carlsen snuffs out Caruana’s ‘fireworks’: Our Round 5 report


Round 6

White: Carlsen

Opening: The Petroff

Result: Draw.

Sky News anchor Kay Burley makes the first move
Sky News anchor Kay Burley makes the first move

Moves: 80

Length of game: Six-and-a-half-hours

Flash verdict: An epic. Carlsen narrowly avoids a devastating defeat as he saves a miraculous draw.

Sky News host Kay Burley on chess: ‘It’s so glitzy and fabulous’


Round 7

White: Carlsen

Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined

Result: Draw.

England junior Shreyas Royal made the first move
England junior Shreyas Royal made the first move

Moves: 40

Length of game: Three-and-a-half-hours

Flash verdict: The same as the second game until Caruana’s rare 10. … Qd8!? but that was the only highlight. Carlsen rues his conservative play (castling instead of playing the sharper 15.Nce4) as the match drifts.

Magnus Carlsen isn’t exactly loving all these draws: Our Game 7 report


Round 8

White: Caruana

Opening: Sveshnikov Sicilian

Result: Draw.

World champion Magnus Carlsen
World champion Magnus Carlsen

Moves: 38

Length of game: Three hours and 43 minutes

Flash verdict:  Carlsen escapes with a draw after Caruana plays the slow 24. h3?! to let him off the hook after three hours and 43 minutes.

Magnus Carlsen brands World Chess Championship sound-proofing failure ‘unacceptable’


Round 9

White: Carlsen

Opening: English Opening

Result: Draw.

Magnus Carlsen's black eye
Magnus Carlsen’s black eye

Moves: 58

Length of game: Three hours and 43 minutes

Flash verdict: Carlsen, sporting a bandage over a black-eye, misses a winning chance with an impatient 25. h5 that allows Caruana to hold for a peaceful result.

For Magnus, the time for talking is clearly over: Our Game 9 report


Round 10

White: Caruana

Opening: Sveshnikov Sicilian

Result: Draw.

Magnus Carlsen's net worth is boosted by his partnership with Iskvar bottled water
Magnus Carlsen’s net worth is boosted by his partnership with Iskvar bottled water

Moves: 54

Length of game: Five-hour and 19 minutes

Flash verdict: Carlsen weathers Caruana’s surprise 12.b4 move to hold on for a nervy draw in a marathon game.

A result, at last! #TeamCarlsen triumphs in Chessable blitz as John Bartholomew shows how to win


Round 11

White: Carlsen

Opening: The Petroff

Result: Draw.

Sergey Karjakin made the ceremonial first move
Sergey Karjakin made the ceremonial first move

Moves: 55

Length of game: Two hours 15 minutes

Flash verdict: A quiet draw. Carlsen got surprised in the opening then shut it down. Tie-breaks clearly on the players’ minds as it goes to the final game.

Sergey Karjakin: Magnus needs to invent something new in chess to be the strongest again


Round 12

White:  Caruana

Opening: Sveshnikov Sicilian

Result: Draw.

The post-match press conference at the end of Game 12
The post-match press conference at the end of Game 12

Moves: 31

Length of game:  Two hours and 57 minutes

Flash verdict: Caruana pushed, Carlsen got the advantage. Carlsen declined an opportunity to go for the win in the finale to the classical games and offered a draw while ahead to go to tie-breaks. A tame end.

Squeaky-bum time as World Chess Championship goes to tie-breaks: Our Game 12 report

What happens now? After Carlsen-Caruana Game 12 ends in a draw, here’s the tie-break rules

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