The championship match between Magnus Carlsen and challenger Fabiano Caruana has so for resulted in eleven straight draws, breaking the earlier record of eight straight draws before one person won. The 12th and last regular game will be played on Monday. If that game also ends in a draw, then the match will be decided on Wednesday in a series of increasingly rapid-fire games in the following order.
- Best-of-four rapid games (25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move). The player with the best score after four rapid games is the winner; otherwise they proceed to blitz games.
- Up to five mini-matches of best-of-two blitz games (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment after each move). The player with the best score in any two-game blitz match is the winner. If all five two-game matches are tied, an “Armageddon” game is played.
- One sudden death “Armageddon” game: White receives 5 minutes and Black receives 4 minutes. Both players receive an increment of 3 seconds starting from move 61. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. In case of a draw, the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.
It is interesting to see the rules of the final ‘Armageddon’ game in which white is given a time advantage but a draw results in black being declared the winner. How the ruling chess body arrived at that formula I do not know and I wonder which color the winner of the coin toss will prefer.
It is felt that Carlsen has the edge over Caruana when it comes to playing rapid chess games.
Should Monday’s final classical game end in another bloodless result, Carlsen will be a prohibitive favorite in Wednesday’s tie-breaker, which consists of a series of games under tighter time controls. The Norwegian, who in addition to his No 1 ranking is the world’s top rated rapid player and top rated blitz player (compared to Caruana’s respective ratings of No 8 and No 16), is unbeaten in tie-breakers over the last 13 years.
Given this information, one wonders if Caruana, who gets to play white in the last regular game, will go for broke and take more risks to try to win it to prevent facing Carlsen in formats that he seems to do very well in. The report on the 11th game says that Carlsen played it safe suggesting that he is likely to go for a draw in the final game and force the tie-breaking rounds.
Chess is an intensely demanding game and one usually feels exhausted after a tough game. One can only imagine the tension under which these two players currently are and how exhausted they will both feel after it is all over.