7 hours, 115 moves and a draw

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTSPORTSMAX - Htc/agen­cies sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP GAME 1 Carlsen and Caru­ana con­test was just 10 moves short of long­est­ever match

LON­DON/NEW DELHI: The World Chess Cham­pi­onship clash be­tween de­fend­ing cham­pion Mag­nus Carlsen and Fabi­ano Caru­ana opened to a spec­tac­u­lar start in Lon­don on Fri­day, with the Ital­ian-amer­i­can se­cur­ing a draw af­ter a marathon seven hours and 115 moves.

The first of the 12-games face­off cer­tainly lived up to the hype be­fit­ting a top flight duel. There was enough drama through the seven hours that kept chess afi­ciona­dos around the world hooked at the Col­lege in Hol­born, where the match will run un­til November 26.

The first game came close to break­ing the world record of most moves in a world cham­pi­onship match be­fore fin­ish­ing on the all-time list. The fifth match of the 1978 World Cup be­tween Ana­toly Kar­pov and Vic­tor Korch­noi that ended af­ter 124 moves tops the chart. The sev­enth match of the Carlsen-viswanathan Anand duel in 2014 lasted 122 moves.

Play­ing with white pieces, Caru­ana, 26, made some good early moves and seized a knight while Nor­we­gian Grand­mas­ter Carlsen was cau­tious in the open­ing ex­changes.

How­ever, Carlsen sur­prised Caru­ana with his Si­cil­ian De­fence and was in a more dom­i­nat­ing po­si­tion when he sacri- ficed a pawn but could not sus­tain the mo­men­tum, throw­ing away the ad­van­tage.

True to his rep­u­ta­tion, the Nor­we­gian played a near-flaw­less game with black pieces but as his clock ticked down to the 40-move time con­trol, Carlsen made some er­rors and al­lowed Caru­ana to snatch a draw.

Hollywood ac­tor Woody Har­rel­son — star of ‘Cheers’ and ‘Hunger Games’ — was given the cer­e­mo­nial role of mov­ing the first piece but made an un­in­ten­tion­ally com­i­cal start, knock­ing over a king and push­ing for­ward the wrong pawn.

Carlsen is a t hree-time de­fend­ing cham­pion while Caru­ana is the first Amer­i­can to com­pete since the leg­endary Bobby Fis­cher in 1972. Fis­cher stunned Soviet cham­pion Spassky in that epic se­ries that epit­o­mised the Cold War ri­valry be­tween the two su­per­pow­ers.

Caru­ana earned his shot against Carlsen by win­ning the Can­di­dates Tour­na­ment ear­lier this year in Ber­lin. He has climbed up the FIDE rank­ings to oc­cupy the No 2 spot — just three points off Carlsen’s to­tal of 2,835 rat­ing points.

Be­fore the face off Carlsen had con­ceded he has not been at his best lately but was con­fi­dent of turn­ing things around.

“Fabi­ano is a tremen­dous player. His results this year speak for them­selves. I know if I con­tinue to play in the same vein I’ve been play­ing re­cently, I will prob­a­bly not win, so I need to step it up.”

The cham­pi­onship is be­ing held at a for­mer Lon­don art and de­sign school build­ing.

REUTERS

Carlsen (left) and Caru­ana dur­ing their World Chess Cham­pi­onship match in Lon­don on Fri­day.

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