Low-key struggle leads to quiet draw as world chess title fight remains tied

They avoided the theatrics of the first two games, but a draw was again the result Sunday as world chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi remain tied with 1 1/2 points apiece in their scheduled 14-game match in Dubai.

Carlsen, who faced difficult moments in the first two games of the match, played much more solidly Sunday from the Black side of a Ruy Lopez opening. Despite an unusual repositioning of the Black pieces starting with 10…Re8, Carlsen was easily able to neutralize White’s mild threats.

A flurry of central exchanges followed by the elimination of both players’ rooks led to a bishop-and-pawn ending in which Black’s slightly more active bishop and king could not make progress against the challenger’s solid defense. The two players agreed to a draw just after reaching the first time control at 40 moves.

Draws have been the bane of title matches in recent years, as the two strong, well-prepared contestants struggle to gain the upper hand. Carlsen’s 2018 title defense against American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana featured 12 straight draws in the games played at classical time controls, with the Norwegian only retaining his title in a rapid-game playoff.

Monday will be the first rest day for the two players before play resumes with Game 4 on Tuesday.

Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen, World Chess Championship, Game 3, Dubai, November 2021

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Re8 11. Nf1 h6 12. Bd2 Bf8 13. Ne3 Ne7 14. c4 bxc4 15. Nxc4 Nc6 16. Rc1 a5 17. Bc3 Bc8 18. d4 exd4 19. Nxd4 Nxd4 20. Qxd4 Be6 21. h3 c6 22. Bc2 d5 23. e5 dxc4 24. Qxd8 Rexd8 25. exf6 Bb4 26. fxg7 Bxc3 27. bxc3 Kxg7 28. Kf1 Rab8 29. Rb1 Kf6 30. Rxb8 Rxb8 31. Rb1 Rxb1+ 32. Bxb1 Ke5 33. Ke2 f5 34. Bc2 f4 35. Bb1 c5 36. Bc2 Bd7 37. f3 Kf6 38. h4 Ke5 39. Kf2 Kf6 40. Ke2 Ke5 41. Kf2 Draw agreed

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