Magnus Carlsen's World Chess Championship rival, Ian Nepomniachtchi

Magnus Carlsen's World Chess Championship rival, Ian Nepomniachtchi

The 30-year-old Russian chess player will face Magnus Carlsen in the world title match at the Dubai World Expo from November 24 to December 16.

Ian Nepomniachtchi has won the 2020-2021 Candidates Tournament after finishing the round 13 chess game in a draw against the Frenchman, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and taking advantage of the defeat of his main pursuer, Anish Giri, against Alexander Grischuk. Thanks to these results, 'Nepo' has managed to overtake Giri by one point with one round to go.

Ian Nepomniachtchi's candidate showdown against Anish Giri, together with Karpov

Despite the candidate is defeat in the last round, Nepo's victory over Giri with black pieces in the first round would make the tiebreaker between the two players favorable. Nepo in the 13 round observed how Giri's position against Grischuk was falling little by little and decided not to force a position where, despite having a pawn advantage, the position did not seem to give more of itself.

The victory of the world number 5 started with his victory with the black pieces in round 12 against Wang Hao. However, it should be noted that he has been the most consistent player during the competition, as he only conceded a full point in his first round game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, with whom he was co-leading the ranking before the resumption of the event. On the other hand, he won five games (three with White and two with Black). The last round, against Ding Liren, became a mere formality that ended in defeat.

A match with many coincidences

The match between Nepo and Carlsen will pit one of the best players in history against one of the fittest. In addition, it so happens that the Russian was part of the team of analysts and trainers who worked with the reigning champion in the 2014 title match. Therefore, we can expect a hard-fought clash between two players who know each other very well.

In addition, another factor to take into account is that the contenders are exactly the same age, 30 years old. This means that they have shared games, competitions and experiences in lower categories. However, the careers of both have had big differences. While Magnus Carlsen has been World Champion for 8 years, Nepomniachtchi had his peak year in 2016, when he raised his FIDE ELO from 2704 points to 2767, moving from 40th in the world to 13th. Since February 2019 he has not left the top-10 of the ELO list and is currently at his peak ranking.

Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi

To make matters worse, Nepo is one of the few players with a favorable result in classic games against Carlsen (+2=5-1) and, should the match go into tiebreaks - as has happened with the last two - the Russian is one of the most dangerous players in the world in fast paces because of his dynamic and aggressive style of play.

Magnus Carlsen on YottaChess has 4068 games, of which 73 games are against Ian.

  • 38 of them resulted in draw.
  • 14 wins for Ian (8 of them with black pieces and 6 with white pieces).
  • 21 wins by Carlsen (11 of them with white pieces and 10 with black pieces).

On March 19 was the last time they met at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, where they played 6 games.

  • Both played 3 white chess games and 3 black chess games.
  • Two of Ian's games with white were draws.
  • Magnus lost 2 white chess games against Ian.
  • Magnus won one chess game with white and one with black resulting in a 3-3 score.
  • Ian eliminated Magnus from the tournament in the tiebreaker, what will happen in the world final?

And you, who do you think will win?

Let us know in the comments

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