2021 World Chess Championship: Carlsen secures Game 8 as Nepomniachtchi suffers collapse

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Norway's grandmaster Magnus Carlsen (R) faces Russia's grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi during game five in the FIDE World Chess Championship Dubai 2021, at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf emirate, on December 1, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Norway's grandmaster Magnus Carlsen (R) faces Russia's grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi during game five in the FIDE World Chess Championship Dubai 2021, at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf emirate, on December 1, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Magnus Carlsen bolstered his title-retention bid after securing a crucial win over Ian Nepomniachtchi in Game 8 of the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship on Sunday (December 5) in Dubai.

This marked the second victory of the defending world champion, who scored a breakthrough over Nepomniachtchi in the historical 136-move Game Six duel.

With the result, Carlsen stretched his series lead to 5-3, a commanding two-point advantage with only six matches remaining.

The opening sequence of Game 8 played out the same way as the early goings of Game Four. The seasoned Norwegian started off with 1.e4 while Nepomniachtchi relied on the Petroff as his defensive approach.

A tense tactical battle ensued from there, until the Russian challenger shot himself in the foot in the endgame, where he blundered a pawn and suffered a massive meltdown.

At this point in the championship series, coming back from a two-point deficit is a tall mountain to climb. Still, Nepomniachtchi has a chance to turn his fortunes around, but he better be prepared to fight for dear life as Carlsen aims to deal another critical blow in Game 9 on Tuesday (December 7).

Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.

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