Carlsen-Caruana, WCh 2018 – Game 7

Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken the World Champion too seriously. After all he is making everybody laugh at the press conferences.

Carlsen said that having two Whites in a row was an advantage and one he was looking forward to. With these two White games behind us, I am not sure what exactly he meant by “advantage.”

In Game 6 he was happy to save a draw and today he said he played too “soft.” I think that word perfectly describes Carlsen’s state of mind. Even looking at him how he makes the moves, in a nonchalant, lazy way, I have the impression of “softness”, of a player who doesn’t see a need to pull himself together.

He feels comfortable in the match with Black and doesn’t see a need to push hard with White, keeping in the back of his mind that a 6-6 makes him a big favourite in the tie-break. A risky strategy, but it just may work. He may be waiting for Caruana to come after him and then take his chance in the counterattack.

Today Carlsen came back to 1 d4 and in the QGD went for the rare move 10 Nd2 instead of the main line with 10 Rd1 as in Game 2. But Caruana was again prepared and in fact managed to surprise Carlsen with his reply, 10…Qd8. It’s funny that Carlsen said that he knew of the move, but that he wasn’t expecting it. Sounds somewhat unprofessional to me.

As it was, there was again one single moment where White could have attempted for something (though the analysis shows that Black was OK anyway). And Carlsen didn’t take it. On move 15 he could have ventured 15 Nce4, but opted for the lame 15 0-0 instead. After that Caruana had absolutely no problems in making the draw.

I have written before of Caruana’s amazing calculational abilities and he again demonstrated them when he gave the line he intended after 15 Nce4 – the engine’s first choices without fail. This bodes well for the Challenger, showing that his brain is working well.

In the 5 remaining games Caruana will be White in 3 of them. Is another Rossolimo on the cards tomorrow?

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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