No motivation points, says Magnus Carlsen forward of title defence

It match that Andrey Guryev would start Wednesday’s official media convention in Dubai saying he hoped Ian Nepomniachtchi would deliver the world chess championship trophy to Russia. Guryev, CEO of the principle sponsors PhosAgro and vice-president of the Chess Federation of Russia, mentioned it could assist popularise the game amongst schoolchildren. 

Not that it could want a lot popularising. Not in a rustic which is the defending Olympiad champion, a title it has had both solo or as joint-winners for the previous two years. Viswanathan Anand has mentioned they’re so highly effective now that they appear “like a picture of the outdated Soviet Union virtually.” But Anand, in an interview to this paper final week, additionally mentioned Nepomniachtchi wouldn’t go into the title match as a favorite. 

Few would, when it’s Magnus Carlsen sat throughout the board.

Carlsen has been the world champion since 2013 when he wrested the title from Anand in Chennai. The Norwegian has since retained it 3 times— beating Anand (2104), Sergey Karjakin (2016) and Fabiano Caruana (2018) — and may he do it once more within the three week 14-round contest starting in Dubai on Friday, it could deliver him on par with Anand. He would additionally win 60% of the $2 million on supply as prize cash.

Nepomniachtchi has overwhelmed Carlsen 4 occasions however two of them had been within the European youth competitions, a 3rd time in 2011 and once more within the 2017 London Chess Basic. Each gamers are 30 now, Nepomniatchtchi is 4 months older, and although the Russian is 4-1 forward within the classical format, Carlsen isn’t making a lot of that.

“The largest benefit is that I’m the higher chess participant,” mentioned Carlsen in an interview to The Guardian. With an Elo ranking of 2855 which is 50 factors forward of the second greatest, and being the reigning world champion within the speedy and the blitz codecs too, there isn’t any doubting that. For Anand, Carlsen is the “absolute dominant participant of the last decade.”

What may go towards Carlsen, Anand had mentioned, is whether or not he’s motivated sufficient to place himself by means of the ringer another time. When this was put to Carlsen at press convention he mentioned: “That is the primary time I hear about it and it actually makes me fired up, so thanks very a lot!”

Within the interview to The Guardian, Carlsen had mentioned his “base motivation goes to be just a little bit decrease than it was.” However he adopted that up by saying that to this point he has all the time managed to lift the extent head of “necessary occasions.” Proof of that’s Carlsen successful the final two world titles on tie-breakers.

Motivation wouldn’t be an issue for Nepomniachtchi who has had an additional 12 months to prepare. The candidates contest—a double spherical robin involving the world’s high eight gamers to resolve who will play the world champion— was stopped in March 2020 due to Covid-19 and resumed in April 2021. When the competitors was stalled, Nepomniachtchi had misplaced to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Within the 12 months that glided by, he labored on his health and got here again sharper. He breezed by means of the second half, successful with a spherical to spare.

The Russian, who had labored with Carlsen 10 years in the past, mentioned he’s feeling “nice” going into the competition. “That is why I actually ready for the entire cycle, the Grand Prix, the Candidates, and now the match, so I assume I can’t watch for it to be really began.”

Requested what separated Nepomniachtchi from his earlier challengers, Carlsen mentioned: “The primary one, by way of fashion, is that Ian is a little more aggressive. He is any individual whose play is quicker, and I believe he has a keener understanding of the ideas of king security than earlier opponents.”

Following the draw of heaps, Nepomniachtchi will begin with white on Friday.

After the press convention, the gamers had been requested to pose with the trophy. Each refused. “Very inappropriate,” mentioned Carlsen. “When the time comes,” mentioned Nepomniachtchi. 

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