Carlsen one point away from conservation title

Magnus Carlsen could complete his final defense of the World Chess Championship title as early as Friday if the defending champion manages to beat his challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi with Black in game 11 of their match.

Magnus Carlsen (left) needs just one win to claim victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi (right) in the World Chess Championship. (Image: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com)

Carlsen holds a 6.5-3.5 lead over Nepomniachtchi after 10 games. The players enjoyed a day off after Thursday’s game.

Nepomniachtchi aims to stabilize the game

Carlsen had the advantage over White in Game 10 on Wednesday. Bettors saw good chances for the Norwegian to press his advantage, as Nepomniachtchi worked his way to two straight defeats before the game.

But the Russian challenger instead sought to stabilize things, playing a safety line in the Petroff defense instead of aiming for a win with black.

“The problem is that basically playing with black you don’t have that much choice,” Nepomniachtchi said afterwards. “If you play a so-called sharp opening like the Sicilian, if White wants to close it, White will surely close it. It’s not realistic. Anyway, I have a few white plays, a few tries in the remaining four games, and of course it depends on what I produce in Game 11. But today was just an idea to play a normal game, try not to make a mistake in one move.

Nepomniachtchi succeeded in this goal. He played solidly throughout Game 10 and after 41 shots the players agreed to a draw. While Carlsen thought he had a slight advantage during parts of the game, he opted to avoid clean lines in order to avoid any potential challenger build-up.

“I think if I had played a little more patiently there I could have had the smallest of advantages,” Carlsen said afterwards of a key mid-game moment. “Naturally, I would have searched more diligently if the situation of the match had been different.”

Carlsen can clinch the World Chess Championship with a win

Unibet lists Carlsen as a +230 pick to win Game 11 – and thus finish the World Chess Championship – with Black. It’s a more realistic possibility than it seems in a vacuum. Nepomniachtchi (+520) will certainly try to win with the Whites, a strategy that makes a draw (-155) a little less likely, but involves risking another defeat.


World Chess Championship Odds – Game 11 (via Unibet)
Ian Nepomniashchi: +520 Draw: -155 Magnus Carlsen: +230

As was the case prior to match 10, Unibet is not offering a match winner market at this stage, although handicap betting is still available. Carlsen (-112) is posted as a 3.5 game favorite against Nepomniachtchi (-120), suggesting the champion will win one more game before the game ends. Players will stop playing additional games once either has reached the 7.5 points needed to win the World Chess Championship.

This means that Nepomniachtchi will have to find more wins to keep the game alive. When a reporter asked how he would change things if he could start the match again, the challenger kept his answer simple.

“I guess I would lose less and win more,” he said.

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