Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Nepo Did It Again!
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi is a Russian chess player from the same generation of players like Carlsen, Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave. Nevertheless, he appeared between the chess elite later than his colleagues. In 2016, at the age of 26, he made an important jump reaching the group of the 20 best world chess players and he keeps there since then.
He plays his moves with great confidence creating on his opponents the psychological effect of unease. It means that he rarely suffers from time trouble. Nevertheless, his play is not stable and from time to time it shows ups and downs as happened in the prestigious Sinquefield Cup (Saint Louis, 2019)
One of these ‘downs’ happened in his game against Dutch GM Anish Giri in round 11. The diagram below shows the position after Nepomniachtchi’s 66 move. There was no piece exchange since move 38 and despite Giri was pushing his pawns as much as possible, the position is level.
Anish Giri explained after the game: “I received a very peculiar remark by my opponent at the end. He said he thought I’m going to repeat moves,“ said Giri. “You have to either calculate or find the setup, you cannot just expect your opponent to repeat the moves.”
Besides that, Giri pointed out an interesting view of his opponent:
“He is like an ideal guy to show you the pluses and the minuses of the quick approach. He has won so many brilliant games very quickly and he crushed here Levon for example, he also crushed Wesley. I remember a game in Dortmund where he beat Nisipeanu when he won that tournament. He just destroyed the guy, I mean, it’s so impressive to watch. He did it to me also a few times. The guy is playing fast, good…it looks like we see the next world champion. And at the same time, you see things like that. It shows you the absolute two extremes. I wouldn’t say it’s his weakness, I think it’s his strength too. It’s basically two sides of one coin.”
Head on the board. That was Nepomniachtchi’s reaction after his blunder. Notice in the clock, that he had 1 hour for only Giri’s 10 minutes!
In this tournament, Nepomniachtchi lost three games for a similar reason: a mistake after reaching a level position. First in round 1 against Anand blundering in move 77, and later in round 10 against Vachier-Lagrave after confusing the square where he intended to move his knight.
Nevertheless, Nepomniachtchi’s achievement in this tournament still is far from Kramnik’s record in the tournament ‘Tata Steel, 2019’
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