[Event "Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi World Chess Champ"] [Site "chess24.com"] [Date "2021.12.01"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2855"] [Annotator "anish"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "Norway"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "NOR"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O { No surprises thus far, as both the players continue the discussion in the Anti-Marshall.} 8. a4 {Repeating the previous White game, from round 3, Ian is ready to challenge Magnus in this topical sideline once again.} Rb8 {A deviation from the third game, but hardly a surprise, as Magnus used this move against Duda in the relatively recently finished World Cup in Sochi.} (8... Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Re8 $5 {happened in game 3.}) 9. axb5 axb5 10. h3 {Ian shows some move order finesse here, avoiding 10.c3 d5, which happened in Duda-Carlsen, though without the inclusion of 9.axb5 axb5 yet -9.c3 d5.} d6 { Marshall style pawn sacrifice is less tempting here, as White has the c3 square for the knight, down the line.} 11. c3 {An interesting idea. When watching this game live, I felt it is more principled not to allow the trade of b-pawns with b4-bxc3 and play 11.d3, but going deeper into the position, I also noticed the downsides of trading the b5 pawn away. The c4 and a4 squares become available to White pieces.} b4 {If Black goes for the plan with Re8, h6, Bf8, White will strike with the immediate d4!. This reply is very sensible, preparing counterplay against the d4 push.} 12. d3 {Now the the c4 and a4 squares are under White's control, this timid setup has some venom.} (12. d4 bxc3 13. bxc3 exd4 {a thematic sequence gives Black enough counterplay.} 14. cxd4 d5 $1 15. e5 Ne4 {With a complicated position, but with the active knight on e4 and the play, as well as squares, along the b-file Black appears to have a decent position.}) 12... bxc3 {Not neccessary, but Black likely has to release the tension sooner or later.} 13. bxc3 d5 {This is not a must, but Black played it quickly, suggesting that the team of the World Champion thought this was the best way to try and neutralize White's small initiative. I would also consider the slower plan with h6 Re8 Bf8, intending Be6 or Ne7-Ng6 regroup. Basically, Black's main issue is his c6 knight, that is restrained by the c3 pawn.} 14. Nbd2 {A quiet reply. White intends to finish development and banks his hopes on the fact that the c6 knight is an awful piece.} dxe4 {Black needs to release the tension, as Ba4 is a threat potentially.} 15. dxe4 Bd6 {This seems slightly less accurate than the immediate h6, Magnus has mixed up the move order here, but Ian returns the favor, transposing back into the position he was aiming for anyway.} (15... h6 {This was a better order, when after 16.Qc2 Bd6 we are back in the game.} 16. Ba4 {is not dangerous for Black.} Ra8 17. Ba3 (17. Bb2 Bd7 18. Bxc6 Bxc6 19. Nxe5 Rxa1 20. Bxa1 Bxe4 {regaining the pawn, with further trades.} 21. Nxe4 Qxd1 22. Nxf6+ Bxf6 23. Rxd1 Bxe5) 17... Nb8 $1 {everything holds, as 18.Nxe5 is met by 18...Rxa4! when the d2 knight is hanging in the end.}) 16. Qc2 { 16.Nc4, as well as starting with 16.Ba4 first and then Nc4 was very challenging.} h6 17. Nf1 {A modest but a very harmonious plan. White just wants to finish his development with Ng3 and Be3.} Ne7 $6 {A somewhat inaccurate move order once again, as the knight moving away from the center this early gives White the opportunity to eventually grab space with c4-c5.} ( 17... Bd7 {Would have likely led to a similar position as in the game eventually, but sidestepping the 20.c4! option.} 18. Ng3 Qc8 19. Be3 Be6 20. Bxe6 Qxe6 {Black is on the defensive, but it is nothing much for White.}) 18. Ng3 Ng6 19. Be3 Qe8 {Clever, as Black intends Be6 and doesn't want to get hit by Nf5 after 19...Qe7.} 20. Red1 {Too soft. Ian likely gets back into a position similar to the one he had in his notes after 17...Bd7, but it isn't much. Instead he had an opportunity to get a real plus.} (20. c4 $1 {This would gain some space and put more pressure on the Black's position.} Be6 { Probably this is what Magnus would have done. Black gets to trade the bishops, but gets cramped with c5.} (20... Bb4 {Ambitious, trying to give the bishop more air, but it doesn't work well.} 21. Reb1 $1 {Clever.} c5 22. Ba4 $1 { Now Qe6 is not possible because of 23.Bxc5! and White bishop gets to reroute itself.} Qe7 23. Bc6 $1 {Heading for d5, a major upgrade from b3. White is better here, as the bishop on b4 is out of play and Black has got all these light square weaknesses.}) 21. Ba4 Bd7 {Slightly more accurate is 21...Qc8!, but I am not sure how easy it is for a human to understand that.} 22. c5 Bxa4 23. Rxa4 {The pressure is on here, as the d6 bishop gets destabilized and the e5 as well as c7 pawns are now more vulnerable. Early to celebrate, but this would have given Ian better chances to achieve his first World Championship match victory.}) 20... Be6 21. Ba4 Bd7 22. Nd2 {Ian allows a lot of trades.} Bxa4 23. Qxa4 Qxa4 24. Rxa4 {White still has a slightly better bishop, but there is very little Black should be worried about here. Easiest was 24... Rfd8! ready to meet 25.Nc4 with 25...Rb3.} Ra8 {Natural, to trade one more pair of pieces.} 25. Rda1 Rxa4 26. Rxa4 Rb8 27. Ra6 Ne8 {Quite passive, but very solid.} (27... Nd7 {Seems to be cleaner.} 28. Nc4 Bf8) (27... Nf4 { Is the engine way, but for a human it's hard to somehow make one active move in a row in a slightly lightly worse endgame.}) 28. Kf1 Nf8 {Sticking to the passive approach again.} 29. Nf5 {I was getting excited about 29.h4 but after 29...Ne6, it doesn't seem that h5 bind is that big a deal.} Ne6 30. Nc4 Rd8 31. f3 f6 {I thought 31...h5 was the more traditional way of solving the slightly issues that Black still has, but as Magnus correctly pointed out, after 32. Ncxd6! cxd6 33.Ra7 White keeps some pressure, while 32.g4 followed by h4-h5 bind is not such a big deal after all.} 32. g4 Kf7 33. h4 Bf8 34. Ke2 Nd6 $1 { Trading a pair of knights makes Black's life easier.} 35. Ncxd6+ Bxd6 36. h5 Bf8 {Black now has the bad bishop, but there is nothing to be done here for White, as he has to keep the f4 square in check and also has no pawn breaks. Ian didn't see what he could try either and the game ended in a move repetition quickly.} 37. Ra5 Ke8 38. Rd5 Ra8 39. Rd1 Ra2+ 40. Rd2 Ra1 41. Rd1 Ra2+ 42. Rd2 Ra1 43. Rd1 1/2-1/2