Though Magnus Carlsen is Norwegian, he celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving on Thursday by winning Game 10 of his World Championship match against Sergey Karjakin, the Russian challenger.

By winning the game, Carlsen evened the score at 5 points apiece in the best-of-12 match. The match, which is being held in the South Street Seaport in New York City, has a prize fund of about $1.1 million.


After losing Game 8 with White, in which he opened 1 d4, Carlsen switched back to 1 e4. Karjakin, who only needed to draw each of the remaining games to win the title, replied 1… e5 and then headed for the Berlin System, which is known to be somewhat drawish. Not surprisingly, Carlsen sidestepped the main lines of that system with 4 d3.

Carlsen did not gain any advantage out of the opening, but he achieved the kind of position in which he is comfortable as it allowed him to maneuver endlessly to try to create inroads in Black’s position.


Nevertheless, Karjakin missed a simple combination that would have forced a draw. After 20 Nd2, Karjakin could have played 20… Nf2, and then after 21 Kg2 Nh4! would have led to a perpetual check as Carlsen could not play 22 gh4 because of 22… Qg6, when White would be checkmated. Carlsen admitted later in the press conference that he saw this possibility and was relieved when Karjakin overlooked it.

Even after 21 Qh5, Karjakin could still have forced a draw by 21… Nf2 22 Kg2 Qf7 23 Kg1 Qf6 24 Kg2 Qf7, etc.

After Karjakin missed those two chances, the players headed for an endgame in which Carlsen had a small but nagging edge. Karjakin defended well until move 56, when instead of playing 56… Rg8, he misplaced his rook with 56… Rhh7. That was all Carlsen needed as he finally broke through Karjakin’s defenses. Though there were still some small errors on both sides in the rest of the game, Carlsen converted his advantage after 75 moves and seven hours of play.

Afterward the relief on Carlsen’s face was palpable as he broke into a big smile.


In the press conference, Carlsen said of the victory, “It is a huge relief. I hadn’t won in 10 games and that hadn’t happened to me before.” He also said that he was feeling the pressure in the match. “Several games have been five, six, seven hours and it is taking its toll,” he said.

Now that the match is tied, there is a greater possibility that the match may go beyond the regulation 12 games and into tie-breakers of rapid and even blitz games. Asked how likely that scenario was, Carlsen replied, “It is more likely than it was before today.”

Game 11 is Saturday at 2 PM EST. The game can be viewed live on WorldChess.com, the official site of the match.

Text by Dylan Loeb McClain

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich, FIDE