Pacifists will be delighted – Carlsen-Caruana Game 7 ended in yet another peaceful outcome.
But the rest of us who want blood and guts spilled before us could be forgiven being slightly disappointed as the World Chess Championship remained deadlocked and without a win.
The position is not quite stalemate – because they match hasn’t ended – but it feels like it.
The latest installment of this now epic draw saga followed a dramatic end to Game 6, in which Magnus Carlsen escaped with his life – or “murder” as he put it – in a tough endgame.
According to the computer, Fabiano Caruana missed a 30-move forced checkmate – how could he possibly be so blind, the chess world refrained from asking. It was, of course, impossible for a human to achieve.
Chances of a draw in game seven of #CarlsenCaruana2018 are now very high. This contest feels increasingly like the early Karpov-Kasparov matches. The players are closely matched and they rarely deviate from equality. What we're missing is the undercurrent of political excitement.
— Jonathan Rowson (@Jonathan_Rowson) November 18, 2018
That game though led to a tense atmosphere at the start of Game 7 with chief commentator Judit Polgar declaring “Magnus is in trouble” before the start of play.
But you can never rule Carlsen out, this is the kind of situation he thrives in – perhaps needs in order to motivate himself.
“I don’t know what will shake-up Magnus, to be a lion today,” Polgar said.
And if you were looking for fire on the board it came on move 10 as Carlsen retreated his queen and then Caruana wheeled out a stone-cold novelty.
Until that point the opening had followed Game 2, the Queen’s Gambit Declined Harrwitz Attack, but Caruana’s deviation 11…Bb6 took the game into new territory and theory was being made.
Carlsen: ‘I’m not loving it’
Unfortunately, this only served to slow the game to a saunter as both Carlsen and Caruana fumbled around looking for a chink in their opponent’s armour.
On move 40, after three-and-a-half hours, the pair agreed the seventh draw in a row. So much for fire on the board – at least we had theory.
Carlsen has failed to profit from his double White, now it is up to Caruana to turn moving first into an advantage. So far neither player has managed it, and in fact have been more dangerous as Black.
In the post-match press conference, Carlsen said: “After the last game it kind of felt like I got away with murder.
“In that sense, it’s easier to be calm about a draw today. I’m not loving it, but I’m not in any sort of panic mode either.
“Could have been worse. The match is still equal and with black, it’s been going OK. I’m not at all thrilled about my play today.
Carlsen has now drawn 12 games in a row – his longest run of draws ever. GM Anish Giri, who Carlsen has ribbed mercilously on Twitter for his drawish tendencies, may be enjoying this:
Nonsense aside, good result for Fabi to get two potentially tough consecutive black games behind him. Time to ask the boys if there is finally any news in the Rossolimo. #CarlsenCaruana
— Anish Giri (@anishgiri) November 18, 2018
Speaking of the novelty, Carlsen said: “I knew that the move existed, I just didn’t expect it. It wasn’t too much of an unpleasant surprise since I felt like there should be many safe options for white.
“There must have been chances to play for something. But what I did was just way too soft. Then I had one chance to play actively but I didn’t entirely believe in it. … (15. Nce4) instead of (15. O-O). Castling is essentially just an admission that the position is equal.”
Caruana added: “It was always a draw. And overall a solid draw without too many problems is always a good result.”