Sergey Karjakin came within a coin flip of taking an almost unassailable 2-point lead after Game 9 of the 2016 World Chess Championship match in New York. Magnus Carlsen admitted he was “just happy to survive” after he found himself adrift after a long theoretical opening.
In the end it took a combination of brilliant defense and luck, since Sergey sensed his moment but played a bishop sacrifice that turned out to be only the second best move in the position. Magnus held in 5 hours and 40 minutes and now has White in two of the remaining three games.
Sergey Karjakin came into Wednesday’s game in the entirely novel position of being the favourite to win a World Championship match. Someone who knows how that feels is Boris Gelfand, who won Game 7 of his match with Vishy Anand in Moscow in 2012 after the first six games had ended in draws. He went on to lose Game 8, but Boris explained in an interview with Sport-Express.ru that there was one key difference for Karjakin:
” It’s of huge significance that Sergey has a rest day ahead, which back then I didn’t have. It’s very important to survive your victory, to come to terms with it. For the challenger, particularly if he’s playing a match at such a level for the first time, there’s a wealth of emotions after a win.
No doubt I was unable to 100% put that behind me in the next game, but Karjakin has one and a half days and a very good team who should help him. I’d like to warn them all against considering the match won. It’s all just getting started – Carlsen will play with redoubled strength and Sergey needs to be prepared for that. Although I’m sure he understands that perfectly well himself”