Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi, champion and challenger, have drawn the first five of their $2m 14-game world title match in Dubai after computer preparation and their accurate memory banks dominated the early play.

Carlsen’s hopes of a fast start against a nervous opponent were dashed as the Russian revived the Anti-Marshall 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 a4!? whose last championship appearance was in 1993 when Garry Kasparov used it to defeat Nigel Short. Carlsen defended better than Short, but still stood worse in Wednesday’s fifth game. 

This weekend’s three games are significant. The Norwegian, 31, has two Whites and is under pressure to break the deadlock. If he fails, the Muscovite will cease to be a long odds outsider. Carlsen’s current series of 19 successive draws-his last two games against Sergey Karjakin in 2016, all 12 against Fabiano Caruana in 2018, and now the first five in Dubai-broke the record of 17 set by Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov in their infamous timeless match of 1984-85.

Where to watch? Hobby players and newcomers should try England’s David Howell and Jovanka Houska on Chess 24, and the same site has excellent coverage for experts from the all-time No1 woman Judit Polgar and from the top 10 GM Anish Giri.

US readers may prefer’s commentary by an all-American team led by Fabiano Caruana, while the official site has the former champion Vishy Anand. All are good, so make your own choice.

Puzzle 2447

Mark Hebden v Chris Baker, British championship, Eastbourne 1991. Can you find White’s winning move? White has only a pawn for a queen in the diagram, the obvious 1 Rxg1 fails to Kxc7. while queening either white pawn allows mate in four by Qf2+ followed by Re3+.

Click here for solution

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