2021 World Chess Championship: Playing for Two Results


In the 2021 World Chess Championship, Champion Magnus Carlsen has a lead of two wins over Challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi going into the third free day. There are six games and two free days remaining in the 14-game match. Thus far, Carlsen’s two wins were in Game 6, on December 3, and Game 8, on December 5. The other games were drawn. As of the December 6 free day, the score is 5–3 in favor of the Champion.

Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi, FIDE World Chess Championship, Dubai, 2021
Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi, FIDE World Chess Championship, Dubai, 2021
Photo: FIDE / Eric Rosen

Playing for Two Results

The expression “playing for two results” means that one player may win or draw. The third result, a loss, is not likely to happen to that player. In both Game 6 and Game 8, Carlsen was playing for two results. Carlsen won the endgame in Game 6 strategically and used a tactic to get a winning advantage in Game 8.

Game 6

For the last 50+ moves of the longest game in World Chess Championship history, Carlsen, as White, had a clear plan. White will try to promote his passed pawns on the e-file and f-file. Here is the position after White’s 82nd move.

Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi, WCC 2021, Game 6

Black to move

In the diagrammed position, Black is hoping for one result. Black wants to draw, probably by perpetual check. Black has no winning chances. In contrast, White may either draw or win. White advanced his pawns and won on move 136.

Game 8

In Game 6, White had the long-term strategy of advancing his passed pawns. In Game 8, White found a tactic to win a pawn after Black played 21…b5?

Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi, WCC 2021, Game 8

White to move

What did White (Carlsen) play here? The answer is 22. Qa3+! White forks the a7-pawn and Black’s king. After White wins the a-pawn, Black may only hope for a draw. From this move onwards, White has all the winning chances. Later, White simplified into a winning endgame and Black resigned on move 46.

Join the Chess Family

As noted in my previous SparkChess article, you have several options for watching the World Chess Championship match. No matter how you watch, you won’t be alone. At all sites, the chat is lively. Hundreds of chess fans react to the game’s moves and to the commentators.

The motto of FIDE (International Chess Federation) is Gens una Sumus (Latin for “We are one Family”). Until December 14, the day of the 14th game, the chess family’s attention is on the World Chess Championship match in Dubai.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.