Magnus Carlsen in control as challenger blunders again in world chess title match

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen grabbed a stranglehold on his chess title match after Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi allowed his bishop to be trapped and went down to defeat with the White pieces in the ninth game of the scheduled 14-game match in Dubai Tuesday.

The loss is the Russian’s third defeat in the last four games and gives the champion a 6-3 lead in the match. Carlsen needs just 1½ points from the final five games to retain the chess crown he has held since 2013.

Nepomniachtchi as White opened for the first time with English Opening (1. c4) and once again much of the early play was balanced. But as in Game 8, when the challenger lost a critical pawn to an elementary tactic, Nepomniachtchi blundered with 26. Bxb7 Ra4 27. c5?? c6!, and suddenly the White bishop was trapped deep inside Black’s position.

Carlsen harvested the piece four moves later and efficiently consolidated his advantage. White tried to get some play with his a-pawn, but Black’s defense was solid and Nepomniachtchi resigned on Move 39. It was the first win by either player with the Black pieces in the match.

Carlsen will have the White pieces in Wednesday’s Game 10. The moves of Game 9:

Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen, World Championship Match, Game 9, Dubai, December 2021

1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. O-O Bc5 6. d3 Nf6 7. Nbd2 a5 8. Nb3 Be7 9. e3 dxe3 10. Bxe3 Ng4 11. Bc5 O-O 12. d4 a4 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. Nc5 a3 15. bxa3 Rd8 16. Nb3 Nf6 17. Re1 Qxa3 18. Qe2 h6 19. h4 Bd7 20. Ne5 Be8 21. Qe3 Qb4 22. Reb1 Nxe5 23. dxe5 Ng4 24. Qe1 Qxe1+ 25. Rxe1 h5 26. Bxb7 Ra4 27. c5 c6 28. f3 Nh6 29. Re4 Ra7 30. Rb4 Rb8 31. a4 Raxb7 32. Rb6 Rxb6 33. cxb6 Rxb6 34. Nc5 Nf5 35. a5 Rb8 36. a6 Nxg3 37. Na4 c5 38. a7 Rd8 39. Nxc5 Ra8 White resigns.