Carlsen-Karjakin Game-4: Karjakin survives, again!

Comments: 4

The ‘miracle’ continues at the World Championship! Karjakin managed to survive another extremely difficult position by defending, again, for 6.5 hours game and 94 moves. Sergey didn’t manage to get a decent position in the opening with the White pieces and Magnus tortured him for a very long and painful game, but the former manages to survive till the end.

Magnus Carlsen

A disappointed Magnus Carlsen (photo: Vladimir Barsky, Russian Chess Federation)


Thus, we had four draws in four games and the score is equal, 2-2 each.


Sergey Karjakin – Magnus Carlsen [C88]
World Chess Championship New York NY USA (4), 15.11.2016


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3

Carlsen vs Karjakin game-4

Black to play


This is the anti-Marshall line. After the short castle, Black is waiting for the move c3 in order to play d5. White tried to avoid this line and for that reason, he can choose between many moves, like h3, d3, a3 or a4. The main point of the anti-Marshall lines is to not weaken the d3-square.


8…Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nbd2 Rfe8 12.c3 Bf8 13.Nf1 h6 14.N3h2 d5 15.Qf3 Na5 16.Ba2 dxe4 17.dxe4 Nc4 18.Bxh6

Carlsen vs Karjakin game-4

Black to play


Karjakin didn’t show any good preparation in the opening, so Black managed to equalize the position easily. Black is controlling the center, and puts pressure on e4-pawn. Black has very active pieces in the center and much more prospects and plans. The Knight on c4 is completely blocking the light-squared Bishop on a2 and limits White’s attacking chances a lot.


In this particular position, White tried to sacrifice, temporarily, the h6-bishop, but it’s obvious that this attack/sacrifice cannot work because Black has very active pieces. First of all, Black is not forced to capture the Bishop. If captured, then the Knight on f6 will fall. Secondly, White’s pieces are not close to the Black’s monarch.


Here Black has a lot of interesting options. He can capture on b2 or on e4 with the Bishop or with the Knight. In the game, Carslen played the strongest move, Qc6. Probably, this was the move which Karjakin had overlooked. After this move, Black is increasing his central control and his initiative.


18…Qc6 19.Bxc4 bxc4 20.Be3 Nxe4 21.Ng3 Nd6 22.Rad1 Rab8 23.Bc1 f6 24.Qxc6 Bxc6

Carlsen vs Karjakin game-4

White to play


Black has a clear edge. The b2-pawn is weak, The central files are blocked, so White’s Rooks cannot do anything. Black has the Bishop pair. Finally Black has an ‘extra’ pawn in the center and his Kingside pawns, e5, f6 and g7 can advance forward in the future.


25.Ng4 Rb5 26.f3 f5 27.Nf2 Be7 28.f4 Bh4 29.fxe5 Bxg3 30.exd6 Rxe1+ 31.Rxe1 cxd6 32.Rd1 Kf7 33.Rd4 Re5 34.Kf1 Rd5 35.Rxd5 Bxd5 36.Bg5 Kg6 37.h4 Kh5 38.Nh3 Bf7 39.Be7 Bxh4 40.Bxd6 Bd8 41.Ke2 g5 42.Nf2 Kg6 43.g4 Bb6 44.Be5 a5 45.Nd1

Carlsen vs Karjakin game-4

Black to play


Here is the critical position. Here is another golden opportunity for Magnus to break Karjakin’s defense and open the score in his favor. Indeed, Black has a lot of options like f4, capture on g4 and Be6.


The best reply is Be6. This will force White to capture on f5 and Black can recapture with the King. After that, Black’s pieces will be more active and he will be ready to start pushing his g-pawn with the help of the two Bishops.


The g-pawn is not the only White’s problem. Black has another interesting plan. He can use the g-pawn as a decoy in order to keep White’s pieces busy, and after that, he can organize an attack on the queenside. He can try to capture all the queenside weak pawns, starting from b2.


45…f4?! This is the critical mistake. After this move, Carlsen cannot win any more.

Hikaru Nakamura tweet

Hikaru Nakamura’s tweet about the move 45…f4


[45…Be6; 45…fxg4 46.Ne3] 46.Bd4 Bc7 47.Nf2 Be6 48.Kf3 Bd5+ 49.Ke2 Bg2 50.Kd2 Kf7 51.Kc2 Bd5 52.Kd2 Bd8 53.Kc2 Ke6 54.Kd2 Kd7 55.Kc2 Kc6 56.Kd2 Kb5 57.Kc1 Ka4 58.Kc2 Bf7 59.Kc1 Bg6 60.Kd2 Kb3 61.Kc1 Bd3 62.Nh3 Ka2 63.Bc5 Be2 64.Nf2 Bf3 65.Kc2 Bc6 66.Bd4 Bd7 67.Bc5 Bc7 68.Bd4 Be6 69.Bc5 f3 70.Be3 Bd7 71.Kc1 Bc8 72.Kc2 Bd7 73.Kc1

Carlsen vs Karjakin game-4

Black to play


This is a fortress position. Black cannot enter into White’s camp. Magnus tried to exchange one of the bishops, but the game ended in a draw later.


73…Bf4 74.Bxf4 gxf4 75.Kc2 Be6 76.Kc1 Bc8 77.Kc2 Be6 78.Kc1 Kb3 79.Kb1 Ka4 80.Kc2 Kb5 81.Kd2 Kc6 82.Ke1 Kd5 83.Kf1 Ke5 84.Kg1 Kf6 85.Ne4+ Kg6 86.Kf2 Bxg4 87.Nd2 Be6 88.Kxf3 Kf5 89.a4 Bd5+ 90.Kf2 Kg4 91.Nf1 Kg5 92.Nd2 Kf5 93.Ke2 Kg4 94.Kf2 ½-½

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You can download the PGN of this game here.

Sergey Karjakin happy (photo: Vladimir Barsky, Russian Chess Federation)


It looks like Karjakin is the happiest person in the world. But how long could it last? Can the World Champion get another winning position in Game-5, and will he be able to convert it into a win? 🙂 Feel free to write your thoughts below.




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Comments: 4

Comments 4

  1. Karjakin demonstrated that he is One of the best Defender but i didn’t think that with White pieces he suffered so much. Untill now he had no chance

  2. karjakin had luck in his side that why he survided dear igor i think he is not gonna become world champion.please make a video lesson in this game.thankyou

    1. He has already made a text lecture of it. And there are other games from world championship coming up and he just doesn’t have time, at the end of Championship I guess he is going to make a lesson about the whole championship and he will show the highlights there, but right now it makes no sense to create a separate video lesson on this game.

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