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World Chess Championship 2016 (Rapid Tie-breaks)

Magnus Carlsen retains World Championship title with a spectacular final move

Magnus Carlsen retained his World Chess Championship title winning the rapid tie-break 3-1. Carlsen admitted that he was aiming for this since the start of game 11.

Carlsen had endured frustration throughout the match and this continued for a while today in the rapids. Carlsen drew the first rapid game with few scares before obtaining a huge and at times winning advantage in game two. The finish was not so easy to find and eventually Karjakin escaped with a draw.

The third game was Carlsen's breakthrough. He employed a radical piece of preparation in the Ruy Lopez where he went for a kingside attack with black. A spectacular pawn sacrifice left him with a dominant position, it may have been that Karjakin could have made life much harder for the champion but after a few moves his risk paid off and with the clock counting down Karjakin allowed a simple finish.

Carlsen allowed Karjakin to play a quite sharp Sicilian in game four where he only needed a draw and employed a slightly unusual sideline that soon left him with a solid advantage. Carlsen looked a little nervous and allowed a bit of counter play. When Karjakin was desperately short of time Carlsen let him attack but he had everything worked out. The finish will go down in history. I suspect Karjakin saw it as he at first retracted the move 48...Qf2 but seeing nothing better he played it anyway and Carlsen finished with 49 Rc8+ Kh7 50 Qh6+ sacrificing his queen for forced mate and the retention of his title.

This is Carlsen's third World Championship victory and the closest call he has had. Karjakin admitted to some mistakes, he had trouble remembering what was probably an immense amount of opening preparation throughout the match. Carlsen's previous World Championship experience allowed his preparation to be more effective than Karjakin's who will no doubt have learned a lot if he gets another shot.

"In rapid chess it's better to be in a good shape and I wasn't" Karjakin and he thought that his opening preparation for that was too much.

"It was an advantage not to think so much about game 12 and he did." said Carlsen who took that game to a quick draw. "Playing four games instead of one seemed a very good idea."

Carlsen was very worried after his game 8 loss. "I had all sorts of negative thoughts in my head."

Final score Carlsen 6 Karjakin 6 in classical time control games. Carlsen 3 Karjakin 1 in rapid games.

Carlsen retained his title on his 26th birthday. A truly memorable day for him.

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