World Chess Champion Carlsen Keeps Crown vs Nepo

The 2021 Carlsen versus Nepo match for the World Chess Championship proved anti-climatic. The history-making game six proved the match’s highlight, but blunders in games eight and nine sealed Nepo’s fate. 

World Chess Championship Carlsen's Reign Continues blog image - a recap of the Carlsen versus Nepomniachtchi world chess championship match 2021

Betting against Magnus Carlsen in a World Chess Championship Match is foolish. Many rightly believed Nepomniachtchi’s chances to dethrone Carlsen were at best slim.

However, it would have been nice to see a closer contest with fighting chess from the challenger. The moment Nepo fell behind, it seemed he didn’t have any idea of how to fight back.

Admittedly, a safety-first approach by Magnus’ previous two challengers, Karjakin and Caruana, at least took the match to a tie-break. Starting with this approach made a lot of sense for Nepo, but it appears there was no alternative opening repertoire to use after falling behind.

Although Magnus chose to enter winning endgames in his world championship match versus Nepo, he has played many wonderful attacking games. Included among fifty of Magnus’ best games is this attacking masterpiece against Fedoseev.

Carlsen Versus Nepo Dubai 2021

The 2021 World Chess Championship Match was scheduled to run from November 24th until December 16th, 2021, but ended on December 12th. There was no need to play the last three games as Magnus held an unassailable lead.

Carlsen earned the first win in an epic seven-hour forty-five-minute game six.

Carlsen versus Nepo: Game Six

This game broke two World Chess Championship records and justifiably got a lot of praise from the world chess community. 

Apart from being the first World Chess Championship game to go into a second day, it was also the longest at 136 moves!

There was a lot of praise for this game from former world chess champion Garry Kasparov who said it showed classical chess isn’t dead. GM Nigel Short called it an epic game.

Carlsen and Nepo entered into what was effectively a long Blitz game after passing the second time control. Magnus had a rook, a knight, and two pawns against Nepo’s queen in the endgame.

Immediately after the game, Carlsen expressed his joy at getting the win. However, both players agreed the objective result ought to have been a draw.

Carlsen, Magnus – Nepomniachtchi, Ian, 2021.12.03, 1-0, FIDE World Championship 2021 Round 6, Dubai UAE

Carlsen versus Nepo: Game Eight

After their marathon game six, Carlsen and Nepo played a much shorter game seven that ended in a draw. Playing to a draw was a sensible approach by Nepo and mirrored the approach advocated by the Russian chess school, to achieve a draw after a loss instead of trying to win when you are feeling down.

In light of this, many wondered if Nepo would press for a win in this game. Nepo played the Petroff Defense and got Magnus to think for forty minutes on move thirteen.

Unfortunately for Nepo, eight moves later, he blundered on move 21, and Magnus didn’t miss the opportunity. The world chess champion found the winning combination, but he didn’t rush things.

Ironically, commentator Anish Giri was showing the possible blunder when Nepomniachtchi played it on the board. “Is he nuts, that is insane!” was Giri’s comment at the time.

Playing with machine-like precision, Magnus secured the victory. Going into the rest day, Magnus had won two games in a row with White.

In the post-game press conference, Nepomniachtchi apologized for his performance and called it below average for him or any GM. 

Nepo needed to stage an extraordinary comeback if he hoped to rally from 5-3 down.

Carlsen, Magnus – Nepomniachtchi, Ian, 2021.12.05, 1-0, FIDE World Championship 2021 Round 8, Dubai UAE

Carlsen versus Nepo: Game Nine

Nepomniachtchi made two changes for game nine. One was personal – he lost his top knot – and one at the board – he played a new opening in this match: 1.c4!

In true Magnus fashion, the world champion didn’t back down from the challenge. Instead of defending his lead by playing it safe, the champion chose 3…d4.

Alas, for Nepo, instead of an extraordinary comeback, he effectively conceded the match by blundering a piece on move 27. Nepomniachtchi later admitted he hadn’t seen the move (27…c6) that trapped his bishop until Magnus played it on the board.

Losing this game meant Nepomniachtchi would need to win three of the last five games against a world champion who only lost two classical games during an eight-year reign.

Nepomniachtchi, Ian – Carlsen, Magnus, 2021.12.07, 0-1, FIDE World Championship 2021 Round 9, Dubai UAE

Carlsen versus Nepo: Game Eleven

In the eleventh game, Nepomniachtchi chose to play the Italian Game. Magnus chose the Two Knights Defense (3…Nf6), which led to a balanced game until move twenty-three.

On move twenty-three, Nepo blundered again, and Magnus entered a winning queen versus rook endgame.

When it comes to playing precise endgames, there is nobody better than Magnus Carlsen, who again demonstrated his extraordinary endgame skills. Nepo resigned and gave Magnus the point he needed to win the match on move forty-nine.

Nepomniachtchi, Ian – Carlsen, Magnus, 2021.12.10, 0-1, FIDE World Championship 2021 Round 11, Dubai UAE

Final Thoughts

Carlsen believes this World Chess Championship Match versus Nepo got decided in game six. He called it a great fight that settled everything.

For his part, Nepomniachtchi found the strength to joke about his blunders. In the press conference, he admitted the tension was not enough justification for missing things he expected to see in Blitz games. 

Once again, Magnus retained the World Chess Championship that he won back in 2013. Yet again, he did it without suffering a loss in the classical games.

A most efficient way to improve your game is to use strategies from games played by great chess players. One of the all-time-greats in chess history is the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen.

If these strategies can work against the very best chess players in the world today, think how much more effective they will be against your opponents. Don’t let this opportunity to learn from the highest-rated chess player in history pass you by.

Grab your copy of Style Bender: Magnus Carlsen’s 50 Best Games” today. These 50 games played by Magnus are expertly narrated by GM Arkadij Naiditsch.

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