American challenger Fabiano Caruana almost pulled off a stunning win in game six of the World Chess Championship 2018 against Magnus Carlsen on Friday, before the Norwegian fought back from the brink to rescue a draw.

Caruana pressed in a piece-for-three-pawns ending, but Carlsen managed to hold on and deny the American the win. The game lasted 80 moves spread over six hours – the second-longest so far.

This was the sixth straight draw between the two players since the 12-round championship match started last week. Carlsen and Caruana are tied 3.0-3.0 in points after six games, ahead of Saturday’s rest day.

Carlsen earlier played his third different opening move in these championships – a 1. e4, reported Caruana played 2...Nf6 instead of 2...Nc6. The steeds then made 75% of the players’ first 20 plies. Caruana made seven consecutive knight moves at one stage. His kingside knight took seven moves to get from g8 to e7, which usually takes just one leap. The game then went into a symmetrical pawn structure, looking like an Exchange French.

From that point, Caruana dominated the defending champion, who was passive and tried to avoid a knight-for-bishop exchange. Caruana traded a side pawn for a centre pawn, before going into a piece-for-three-pawn ending. However, Carlsen managed to dig himself out with some very accurate defence over two hours.

Had Caruana managed to win the game, it would have taken him to No 1 in the live world ratings, knocking Carlsen off the position he has held since July 2011, reported The Guardian. It would also have been the first time an American player won an undisputed world championship match in 16,878 days, the last time being Spassky vs Fischer in August 1972.

Later, the Stockfish evaluation engine found a forced mate in just 30 moves, which drew the following reaction from Carlsen:

Both players would be glad for Saturday’s rest day after what happened in game six. Carlsen will play as white in game seven on Sunday. The title goes to the first person to reach 6.5 points, with a rapid series of tiebreakers played in case the two are level after the first 12 games.