I won't lie - I expected the tie-breaker between Caruana and Carlsen to be way more exciting and competitive. Sadly, not all dreams are meant to come true. Magnus Carlsen have defended his title in one of the most convincing tie-breakers ever and proved the world that he is still the best.
After 12 classical games which all ended in a draw, people did want to see things shaking up at least a little. And of course, the fact that players had 25 minutes on their clocks instead of 100 minutes, helped a lot. Carlsen started the rapid session with white pieces and went for a pretty sharp opening. The first 10 minutes of the game showed us that Carlsen is so much better at openings and analyses than Caruana is. To be honest, everyone thought that Caruana might have to resign sooner than expected. However, the American found a way to stabilize the situation and got himself out of a big mess in mid-game. That said, Carlsen still had a lead in the rook end game but he had to do a lot to prove it. In fact, Caruana could have earned himself a draw if he played the right move toward the end of the game. However, he opted to push his pawn instead of checking white's King with a rook and that cost him the first game.
It was obvious that Caruana was behind the whole game but the fact that he still had a chance at stealing the draw shows how well prepared for the match he was. Sadly, that's usually not enough against Carlsen. If you want to beat Carslen at rapid or blitz, you have to be on point with every move and Caruana wasn't. I believe that he realized the fact that he let the draw slip away in the first game and that might have killed his confidence and messed with his self-believe.
There is not much to analyse after the first game because Carlsen totally dominated Caruana in the second game and ended the American dream. It seemed like Caruana was an amateur kid who carelessly tried to beat the best player in the world. Who such tries go? Well, only in bible does David beat Goliath. In the real world, Goliath, who was dressed as Carlsen tonight, doesn't blink. Caruana made some silly moves, Carlsen capitalized on those and got 2-0 lead with 2 games left, which basically finished this match.
Caruana still tried to pull a miracle in the third game but Carlsen's defense was solid and of course, some forced attacks did not work at all. That lead to Caruana's resignation and Carlsen's official victory 3-0 after the tie-break.
What could we learn from Carlsen - Caruana games? First of all, Carlsen is the best player in the world when it comes to blitz and rapid games. There is no one even remotely close to him at the moment. However, he is not that dominant in the classical games when opponents come prepared and have a lot of time to think. In fact, Caruana showed that he is not that much worse than Carlsen when in the mid-games when both players have established positions and have to make their own decisions rather than following pre-match line.
Many people believe that Carlsen's victory is good for chess in general as his dominant figure might attract new fans, especially in the younger audiences. We do have Messi and Ronaldo in football, we do have LeBron in basketball, and now we do have Carlsen in chess. However, his dominance might be ended soon as many players are after him and the game is improving in days so Carlsen has to work a lot to keep his level.
Oh, on a personal note, I might look for a chess club now and become a new Lithuanian grand master. Watching those games, I felt that I need to learn more about chess. I am fascinated by the complexity of this game and I kind of want to check if I can at least reach ELO 2000. That could be my goal for 2019 but I don't want to make such promises too soon.
Anyway, how did you like the World Chess Championship this year? Are you satisfied with the level Caruana and Carlsen showed? What did you miss?