Photo by Lennart Ootes
When the World Champion loses a game, it's immediate history. "Magnus Carlsen collapsed in London!"; "The fog of the city took Magnus away!"; and you can unleash your fantasy here, to create shocking headlines about the round eight Norwegiandisaster.
It's rather funny to see all the questions that ONE game provokes: "Is Magnus as dominant as Kasparov was?"; "Did Magnus prepare for this game?"; "Maybe he should stop going out with girls and think about his chess?".
The chess world is a slow-paced place, made of long pauses and very little action. When a champion loses, it's like an earthquake, especially when the champion is of a different league when compared to all the other elite players. And who took Magnus out in round eight? One of those that we could call - without risking to get lynched - a non-elite player! Ian with the unpronounceable surname, from Russia, has been a young prodigy, and since then he's been sailing around the 20th position on the rating list. Oh, don't get me wrong: Nepomniachtchi is a super-strong fella, of course. But he is not Aronian, Caruana, Nakamura. Yet, he's got a record vs. Carlsen that probably nobody else can sport: +4 =4 -0. Impressive, isn't it? And that's all classical games! After round eight game at the London Chess Classic, the 27-year-old Russian GM has gained the official status of Magnus Carlsen's bête noire.
The different expressions of the two players tells the tale, in these great photos shot by Lennart Ootes
Here is the game
Now, after all the outcry and the hair-pulling, let's get back to Earth. It's just a game. Magnus is still up there, unreachable as always, alone in that Olympus reserved to the dominator of the board.
Here is the situation with one round to go:
And last round's pairings
Remember! Last round starts earlier, at the rather ungodly time of 7 AM EST.
Enjoy GM Alex Yermolinsky's recap of Rounds 6-8!