7 hours, 115 moves and a draw
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.
Carlsen (left) and Caruana during their World Chess Championship match in London on Friday.