The championship match started off slowly, with a series of draws, and Ian Nepomniachtchi came closer to winning, in Game 2, than Magnus Carlsen did in any of the early games. However, Carlsen’s play became steadier as the match went on, and in the end he met the expectations of most fans, defeating Nepomniachtchi by a score of 7.5-3.5 to retain his title as World Champion.

The critical point in the march was Game 6. Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi both missed opportunities to gain a decisive advantage in this game before Carlsen took control and eventually won.

Both players were low on time between moves 30 and 40, and both made mistakes. In the following position, after Carlsen played 36Rc2?!, Nepomniachtchi could have won a pawn by playing 36…Bxb4. The game could have continued 37Rcc1 (37Nxb4?? Qxd1) Ba3 38Ra1 Qg4!, when the queen attacks white’s rook on d1 and defends the black on a4. Black would have a large advantage in this position. Instead, Nepomniachtchi played …

World Chess Championship Game 6

Black to Move

36…Qd5? This delays but does not prevent white from playing Ra2. The game is now about even.

37 Rdd2 Qb3 38Ra2 e4? (38…f5 was better) 39Nc5 Qxa4 40Nxe4? After 40Rdc2!, white would win black’s a-pawn, which is more important than the pawn on e4. If 40…f5 41Nxc5 Qxc5 42Rc3. White wins black’s bishop on a3, and his two rooks will be stronger than black’s queen.

40…Qb3 Black retains his a-pawn. In theory, black has enough counterplay to draw the game, but the endgame is much easier for white to play than black.

Nepomniachtchi defended well for a long time, maintaining a drawn position until the following position was reached at move 130. Computer analysis shows that black can hold on by playing 130…Qb1 or 130…Qc2 to discourage white from advancing his knight. Instead, black played …

Black to Move

130…Qe6? 131Kh4! Qh6+ 132Nh5 White is winning now that his king and knight are activated. Black resigned at move 136. To view this game on a virtual board, go to

The accuracy of Nepomniachtchi’s play, which was very high in the early games of this match, deteriorated after this draining loss. After a draw in Game 7, Carlsen took advantage of Nepomniachtchi’s blunders to score wins in three of the next four games.

World Chess Championship Game 8

Black to Move

21…b5? This loses a pawn, although it’s not quite as simple as some commentators suggested during the game.

22Qa3+ Kg8 Black may have intended to play 22…Qd6 23Qxa7 bxc4??, seemingly winning a bishop, but capturing the c4 bishop would allow white to play 24Qa8+ with checkmate to follow.

23Qxa7 Now if black captures the white bishop on c4, white captures the black bishop on d7. White is up a clear pawn and went on to win in 46 moves. To view this game on a virtual board, go to

World Chess Championship Game 9

White to Move

27c5?? c6 White’s bishop on b7 is now trapped and will be lost in a few moves.

28f3 Nh6 29Re4 Ra7 30Rb4 Rb8 31a4 Raxb7 Black is a bishop ahead and won easily in 39 moves. To view this game on a virtual board, go to

World Chess Championship Game 11

White to Move

23g3?? dxe3 (Carlsen’s attack on the underdefended white king more than compensates for the small material sacrifice of his rook for white’s knight and pawn) 24gxf4 Qxg4+ 25Kf1 Qh3+ 26Kg1

Black to Move

26…Nf5 This is good enough to win, but even better would have been 26…exf2+ 27Qxf2 Rd6 28Re2, Rg6+, when white would have to give up his queen to avoid checkmate. Carlsen went on to win the game, in 49 moves, and the match.

To view this game on a virtual board, go to

Keith Holzmueller

Keith Holzmueller has been the head coach of the Evanston Township High School Chess Club and Team since 2017. He became a serious chess player during his high school years. As an adult player, he obtained...