A quick refresher on the format for this world championship match. It will consist of 14 classical games with each player awarded one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. Whoever reaches seven and a half points first will be declared the champion. (Both Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi are on a half-point after Friday’s Game 1 draw.)
The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
If the match is tied after 14 games, tie-breaks will be played on the final day (16 December) in the following order:
• Best of four rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
• If still tied, they will play up to five mini-matches of two blitz games (five minutes for each player with a three-second increment).
• If all five mini-matches are drawn, one sudden-death ‘Armageddon’ match will be played where White receives five minutes and Black receives four minutes. Both players will receive a three-second increment after the 60th move. In the case of a draw, Black will be declared the winner.
Notably, Carlsen’s second and third title defenses both came down to tiebreakers. But many believe the increased length of this year’s match (from 12 to 14 games) and the stylistic matchup at hand promises a decisive result in regulation.
Hello and welcome back for Game 2 of of the World Chess Championship. Feels like we only just said goodbye after yesterday’s four-hour, 45-move opener, where the Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi was made to toil with the white pieces in a tense, fighting draw with Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, the longtime champion who perhaps gained a psychological edge by showing he was not afraid to sacrifice a pawn early for long-term initiative (9. … Nxb3). Nepomniachtchi’s opening advantage ultimately didn’t hold up and he was forced to rely on precise endgame play to emerge with a result.
For those of you just coming aboard, Carlsen, 30, has been at No 1 in the Fide rankings for 10 straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he dethroned Viswanathan Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April with a round to spare. It’s the culmination of a rivalry that started nearly two decades ago when they first met across the board as boys at the 2002 European Under-12 Championship in Peniscola, Spain. Notably, Nepomniachtchi enters the title tilt with a winning lifetime record against Carlsen in classical matches (four won, one lost and eight drawn). That makes him unique among today’s top players, even if two of those victories came in youth championships.
The best-of-14-games match is scheduled to take place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre over the next three weeks, with the winner earning a 60% share of the €2m ($2.26m) prize fund if the match ends in regulation (or 55% if it’s decided by tie-break games).
We’re about a half hour from today’s first move, so not much longer now. In the meantime here’s our Sean Ingle’s interview with Carlsen from earlier this week.