Raymond Keene

Missed chances

Magnus Carlsen has retained the World Championship but only after Sergei Karjakin, the challenger, missed some glorious opportunities.
In game 9 Karjakin, already a point ahead in the match, built up a formidable attacking position, only to miss the coup juste at the critical moment.
 
Karjakin-Carlsen, New York (Game 9) 2016
(see diagram 1)
 
In the diagram position, Karjakin played 39 Bxf7+ which fizzled out to a draw after 39 … Kxf7 40 Qc4+ Kg7 41 d5 Nf5 42 Bc3+ Kf8 43 Bxa1 Nxh4+ 44 Qxh4 Qxd5 45 Qf6+ Qf7. What Karjakin missed was 39 Qb3 when all the variations work in his favour, e.g. 39 … Nf5 40 Bxf7+ Kg7 41 Rh3 (forced) 41 … Qe7 (threatening …Nh4+) 42 Bg8 Nh4+ 43 Rxh4 Qxh4 44 Qf7+ Kh8 45 Qxc7 Kxg8 46 d5 which should win.
 
In the very next game, as Black, Karjakin overlooked a move which would have forced a draw, thus leaving him still one point ahead with two games to play.
 
Carlsen-Karjakin, New York (Game 9) 2016
(see diagram 2)
 
From the diagram, Karjakin chose 21 … Ng5 and was eventually ground into the dust after a long endgame. However, he could have drawn with 21 … Nxf2+. After 22 Kg2 (22 Kg1 Qg5 is fine for Black as he has 23 Qxg5 Nh3+) 22 … Qf7 and now 23 Qe2 is met by 23 … Nh4+. 23 Kg1 instead appears very strong but is met by 23 … Qf6! 24 Qe2 Nh3+ 25 Kg2 Nhf4+. So, after 23 … Qf6 White must settle for 24 Kg2 repeating the position.
 
Karjakin-Carlsen, New York play-off (Game 3) 2016
(see diagram 3)
 
Finally, in game 3 of the play-off, occasioned by the 6-6 score in the main match, Karjakin succumbed after blundering with 38 Rxc7?? Ra1 White resigns. Instead 38 Rb1, driving away the black queen, leaves all to play for.

















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