The first game is over, and it's a draw. Nepo, with White, opened e4, and the players went into a Closed Ruy Lopez. The game has never been "owned" by one of the players, who played (guess how?) very well, without making mistakes. Despite the Covid measures, the players did shake hands.
Magnus sacrificed a pawn in the opening, by playing 8...Na5?!
Of course, all the socials (especially Twitter) explode with comments about the "weird" choice by the Champion. But it was preparation, and in a few moves the engines agreed on seeing the game as equal.
Someone even pushed himself a bit too far, affirming that in and endgame a pawn up, Nepo was going to win. Only to come back a bit later admitting the statement was slightly premature. Both players appeared fit and very focused, and the high level of their play makes us hope that this will be a long and exciting battle.
After a year with the Internet making the rules and all the big - and minor - events played from home, the World Championship Match between defending champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi takes place in Dubai, with the two contestants facing each other in person, starting November the 26th.
Ian Nepomniachtchi, from Russia, won the Candidates' tournament, which had to be suspended for the outbreak of the Sars Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. It took 13 months to know who was going to challenge Magnus' title in 2021. Eventually, in April 2021, Ian convincingly won the tournament, reclaiming his seat in Dubai.
The socials are boiling these days, with so many different opinions coming from top players to amateurs, and it's clear that almost everyone thinks Magnus will retain his title for the fourth time. Magnus has been numero uno for 11 straight years and has successfully defended the title he conquered in 2013 - defeating the great Anand - against Anand again, Karjakin, and Caruana. It is hard to find a weakness in Magnus' play, and his superiority has shown in almost every tournament he's played in. He's the stronger player in the world in classical chess, rapid, and blitz. And these are facts.
Now, Ian is a super-strong GM and probably the most dangerous opponent Magnus could find at the moment. And we need to remember that Ian is one of the very few to hold a positive score against the Champion! Without taking into consideration the game they played as kids, Nepo defeated Magnus in classical chess twice: Tata Steel Group A in 2011 and London Chess Classic in 2017, both times with black. Carlsen won, again with black, in the GCT Croatia, in 2019. The last three encounters ended in a draw. Another important fact to keep in mind is that this year the match is two games longer (14 instead of 12). Magnus has shown that he can deal with stressful situations very well. Ian, on the other hand, has had in the past problems keeping himself together when facing crucial moments. But Ian is 31 now, mature, and probably at his peak.
So, let's say (or hope?) that anything can happen and that it will be a delightful set of games to decide who's the new world champion!
For sure it won't be like this:
The ICC will relay the games LIVE.
GM Miguel Illescas will provide ICC members with a daily video, with analysis and considerations about the games.
GM Joel Benjamin will commentate on the games with a series of articles to be published during the rest days.
And in your email, you'll soon find more!
This article will be updated daily, with links to videos, articles, and more.
Schedule: all the games start at 7:30 AM EST; 13:30 Paris, Rome, Berlin; 12:30 London; 15:30 Moscow; 16:30 Dubai; 18:00 New Delhi; 20:30 Beijing
|Wednesday November 24||Opening ceremony|
|Thursday November 25||Media day|
|Friday November 26||1|
|Saturday November 27||2|
|Sunday November 28||3|
|Monday November 29||Rest day|
|Tuesday November 30||4|
|Wednesday December 1||5|
|Thursday December 2||Rest day|
|Friday December 3||6|
|Saturday December 4||7|
|Sunday December 5||8|
|Monday December 6||Rest day|
|Tuesday December 7||9|
|Wednesday December 8||10|
|Thursday December 9||Rest day|
|Friday December 10||11|
|Saturday December 11||12|
|Sunday December 12||13|
|Monday December 13||Rest day|
|Tuesday December 14||14|
|Wednesday December 15||Tiebreak or closing ceremony|
|Thursday December 16||Closing ceremony in case of a tiebreak|