DUBAI, 5 December 2021 – The championship crossed its halfway point today, with the champion, Magnus Carlsen, and the challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi, meeting for their eighth game in a total of 14.
Both players appeared to be avoiding risk-taking early on, causing Nepomniachtchi to contemplate his ninth move for 17 minutes, suspecting Carlsen of cleverly-veiled tactics. His responding move led Carlsen to spend 40 minutes in thought himself, clearly thinking the same.
But by blundering a pawn on his 21st move, Nepomniachtchi gifted Carlsen a way forward, and put the champion in attack mode. The challenger grimaced on occasion, left to think in his rest area, and returned to sit with his head on the table, face down in his folded arms. By his 46th move, Carlsen had claimed victory, and now leads 5-3.
FACT SHEET, Game 8
White: Magnus Carlsen, Norway
Black: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Russia
Match score: 5-3, Carlsen leads
Game length: 46 moves
Opening: Petroff/Russian Defence
Sunday’s ceremonial first move was executed by former Spanish footballer Michel Salgado, who spent a decade at Real Madrid from 1999-2009, followed by three seasons in the English Premier League before retiring. Salgado moved a pawn, which was not reset, with Carlsen hitting his clock to make it official.
The World Championship, held at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai, will be played over 14 classical games for a EUR 2 million (USD 2.25 million) prize fund, with 60 per cent going to the winner and 40 per cent to the runner-up. It was originally scheduled to start on 20 December last year, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.