Game two has been the most revealing so far for what could happen with both sides outside their prep, as Carlsen misplayed his attack before Nepomniachtchi played too safe at a critical moment. Their memory banks and super-computer back-ups are in good shape, so the question is who will cope better as the nervous tension becomes acute in the last few games.
Carlsen’s plan B seems to be to test his opponent’s resilience with low-risk probes, but the ambience will change dramatically if and when one side scores the first win. “If” is a necessary qualification here, since Carlsen’s ongoing record of championship draws in classical games stands at 19 – the last two against Sergey Karjakin in 2016, all 12 against Fabiano Caruana in 2018, and now another five. This breaks the record of 17 consecutive draws set by Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov in their “timeless test” match in Moscow 1984-85.