2021 World Chess Championship: Nepomniachtchi spoils Carlsen's 31st birthday with Game 4 draw

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Norway's chessmaster Magnus Carlsen (L) competes against Russia's chessmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi during Game 2 of the FIDE World Chess Championship Dubai 2021, at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf emirate, on November 27, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Norway's chessmaster Magnus Carlsen (L) competes against Russia's chessmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi during Game 2 of the FIDE World Chess Championship Dubai 2021, at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf emirate, on November 27, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The 31st birthday of Magnus Carlsen did not go as planned after Ian Nepomniachtchi forced another draw in Game 4 of the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship on Tuesday (November 30) in Dubai.  

Handling the white pieces, Carlsen banked on 1.e4 out of the opening before Nepomniachtchi turned to the Petroff defense. It was a move seldomly used by the Russian challenger, but not rare enough to surprise the sharp-witted world champion.  

Still, the defensive approach of Nepomniachtchi proved to be a hard nut to crack for the Norwegian, who exhausted an extensive amount of time in search of a decisive move in the endgame, where a threefold repetition emerged as the most reasonable option.  

After 33 moves, both grandmasters called for a truce. It was the fourth consecutive draw in the 14-game championship bout, and the shortest one so far as the match only lasted for two hours and 37 minutes. Both Games 2 and 3 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, fizzled to draws despite some tensions on the board in the early going of the games. 

With the series tied at 2-2, both Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi will aim to draw first blood when action resumes on Wednesday (December 1) for Game 5 of the World Chess Championship. 

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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