A very uneventful draw in the last game, but one that nevertheless provides some information about Carlsen’s psychology and how he sees things.
The very fact that a player like Carlsen, who values the white pieces and always tries to play for win, didn’t try to take advantage of these last white pieces in the classical part of the match, coupled with his statement at the press conference that he wanted to play a tie-break, shows that he deeply feels the trend of how things were developing in this match.
It was a difficult match for Carlsen – he didn’t win games he was expected to win, then his level dropped, then he forced matters unnecessarily and lost. He was lucky (please read here to understand what I mean by “lucky”) not to lose another one and then finally broke even. The last two games were tame affairs when neither player wanted to risk.
The flow of the match was uneven for Carlsen (less so for Karjakin, who firmly followed his pre-match strategy of playing as safely as possible at all times) and it didn’t allow for a last-game heroic win. It was against the natural flow of how things were developing in the match and we saw in Game 8 what happened when he tried to violently impose his will at all costs.
Carlsen is very good at feeling his inner state and followed his own counsel, not paying attention to the wishes of the public or the expectations of the world. He said he feels good about the rapid, soon enough we’ll see what he means and whether he’s right.
As for what to expect in the rapid, I have the impression that now perhaps Karjakin will show more venomous ideas with white. It seems that all his strategy was to draw with both white and black and he was completely toothless with white – if not now, when is he going to show his great preparation (which he undoubtedly had, but saw no reason to use the way the match was going). As for Carlsen, he will also show more daring ideas, especially with white (with black I expect both to stay solid) and if these predictions come true, we will witness a great fighting 4-game rapid match on Wednesday.
Until then, Game 12 for a good night sleep (in Europe at least):