A.On the day off he had his hair cut off. He had a friend and world-class grandmaster from Moscow flown in as assistance. He played a completely new opening. And what was the use of all this for Jan Nepomnyashchi? Nothing. He messed up even worse than in game eight. On Sunday it cost a farmer. This time a runner was gone. He let him lock himself out like a beginner.
The whole chess world already knew that it had happened to him when the Russian sat unsuspecting in his relaxation room and believed that he still had an advantage. Carlsen did not make the move that catches the white bishop immediately, but checked whether he might have missed anything. But there was nothing. Carlsen’s train saw Nepomnyashchi on the screen in his relaxation room. Only then did he understand what he had done and never came out. He stayed backstage for 18 minutes. Did he cry Broken the toilet box? Or at least crushed some fruit?
When he finally got back to the board, he looked more at the air than at the pieces. In his place, many would have reached over the board to give up the game and leave it behind as quickly as possible. But Nepomnyashchi delayed the inevitable twelve more moves.
After his third defeat in four games, the challenger is now 3: 6 behind. When only the winning games counted at the world championships, as Bobby Fischer had demanded, Viktor Korchnoi made up a 2: 5 deficit against Anatoli Karpov in 1978, but then lost 5: 6. Garry Kasparov turned a 5-0 defeat against Karpov into a 5-5 before their first match after 48 games was canceled in February 1985. But today every half point scored with a draw is counted and brings the leader closer to his goal. To turn the match around, Nepomnyashchi would have to win at least three out of six games and shouldn’t lose any. In his condition and against a Carlsen in good shape, that borders on the impossible.
Some who commented on the match live or on social networks expressed pity. Did Carlsen feel for his opponent too? “This is the world championship! You’d rather beat an opponent at the height of your ability, but if not, you take it with you, “he said, admitting:” Style points weren’t awarded today. “Like most, he prefers to win through strong moves of his own than through mistakes by the opponent .
Once he did in this lot screwed up myself, but it was a mini-mistake, actually not a mistake at all, just an overlook with no bad consequences. It temporarily cost him a peasant, but he would have got it back later if Nepomnyashchi had saved his bishop, but he saved the peasant.
Instead of this match as before, the challenger had the ninth game opened not with the king’s pawn but with the c-pawn. Sergei Karjakin, who returned to Dubai from Moscow on Monday to assist his compatriot, also varies between these two options. Karjakin has won more times when only one win counted. And they had completed numerous training games together. Perhaps also in the type of position that arose after Carlsen’s ambitious, otherwise rarely played third move. The world champion just wanted to stick to his preparation.
The challenger’s first 14 moves looked fine. Then the commentators wanted to see a pawn advance from him. With that he could pose problems for Carlsen. That was what he had to want. Instead, he only thought for five minutes and traded a pawn. The commentators, computers, and Carlsen as well, viewed the situation from then on as fairly balanced.
Afterwards it turned out that Nepomnyashchi had overestimated his position the whole time and saw himself at an advantage. It didn’t seem fair to him that you could lose such a good position on a train. In the end, he also had to be praised for answering questions calmly after his defeats. “I would rather have respect for good games than for press conferences.”
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