After a quick draw to end Game 7 of the World Chess Championship, Ian Nepomniachtchi was asked by a reporter in the post match presser when he would start to finally attack Magnus Carlsen? After having lost the longest world championship match in the history of chess, Nepomniachtchi was at some point expected to come out all guns firing.
Yesterday though, none of the guns fired and Nepomniachtchi dug himself into a pretty impressive hole. He has now lost twice to the current World Champion in the space of three days, the latest loss coming last night in Game 8 of the World Chess Championship. Both losses have come in harrowing fashion where Nepomniachtchi has played into the hands of Magnus Carlsen by letting the Norwegian dictate the pace of the game.
Game 8 though was vastly different from Game 6. Nepomniachtchi conceded in 45 moves and made various inexplicable blunders throughout the game to give Carlsen the advantage. Most of the blunders came because the Russian was eager to keep the game dynamic and hope for an opening or a mistake from Carlsen. There were at least two occasions where Nepomniachtchi could have traded queens with Carlsen and played safe.
“It was pretty cagey at the start (of the match),” Carlsen said. “Obviously a win changes the dynamic of the match. I don’t think I would have won this game if I hadn’t won the first one,” added the Norwegian after taking a 5-3 lead in the 14-game world championship series.
The Nepo blunder
But the biggest mistake came when Nepomniachtchi initiated a sacrifice of pawns for both players but then for reasons unknown pushed another one of his pawns forward on 21…b5. “It becomes truly unpleasant and frankly speaking it’s hard to defend after such a blunder,” Nepomniachtchi said after the game.
Both players have admitted in one way or the other that tiredness has played its part in these World Championships. But Nepomniachtchi has seemed to be particularly affected by the speed at which these games have come.
Ian: “It was a chain of slightly weird decisions, starting with 10… Kf8. It was somewhat more artificial than just 10… Qe7. But that position is still almost equal. Perhaps after 19…h4 and 20.c4 it became slightly unpleasant. And indeed 21…b5 was just a very bad blunder.” pic.twitter.com/ybqIurYBUK
“I don’t think it’s very easy for black to force a draw. And as long as you cannot force the draw then it’s always to be a little bit of pressure that you have to neutralize. Then of course, b5 … I thought that was a blunder. Both of us are really tired at that point but it always helps to have the initiative,” said Carlsen.
Both players will get a much needed rest day, post which Game 9 of the World Championships will take place at the Dubai Expo centre on Tuesday.