Chess is already a gruelling affair. So imagine what it’d be like to play a grandmaster, sitting there sweating bullets for hours on end, using every ounce of concentration.
Now imagine playing 12 games over 18 days. And guess what? You’re still not finished. Because after 10 draws, that’s precisely where this year’s World Chess Championship is at.
Earlier this morning, yet another draw between Russia’s Sergey Karjakin and defending champion Magnus Carlsen (who has also doubled as a model) means the two grandmasters ended the best-of-12 world series at 5.5 points a piece. The series has been neck and neck for the most part, until Game 8 when Carlsen took too many risks chasing a win and got subsequently punished.
With four games remaining, Carlsen was under pressure to catch up. And in the 10th match, he did exactly that – exposing cracks in the Russian’s draw-centric defence after an agonising six hours.
(If all goes well, below you’ll be able to see a recap of the game from Chess.com move by move. If not, head over here for a proper breakdown.)
So after all of that, it came down to game 12. And perhaps unsurprisingly, both players played safe – and remarkably quickly. The whole affair was decided in 30 moves and 35 minutes, and you can see how that unfolded thanks to this great GIF from Oliver Roeder.
— Oliver Roeder (@ollie) November 28, 2016
So what happens now?
The format for tiebreakers is a series of blitz matches, where each player gets 25 minutes a side with an additional 10 seconds per move thinking time. If after four matches there’s still no result, another two blitz games are played where players get 5 minutes a side with 3 seconds added per move.
If Carlsen and Karjakin are still tied after that, two more blitz games are played under the previous time settings 4 more times.
And if there’s no breaker after that, the grandmasters will play under a format called armageddon. It’s a mode where white gets five minutes to play, while black gets four minutes, but if the game is tied black wins.
In case you’re wondering, both Carlsen and Karjakin are ranked in blitz and rapid chess formats. Karjakin is the world’s 11th best player according to the FIDE rankings, while Carlsen is 2nd. Carlsen’s also the best rapid chess player in the world, while Karjakin isn’t ranked in the top 100.
The tiebreakers will kick off early Thursday morning Australian time.