It’s value reminding ourselves simply how dominant Magnus Carlsen has been simply within the final decade. He has spent 11 years above the 2800-mark and gained the World Classical, Speedy and Blitz titles a number of occasions and remained No. 1 in all score lists.
Regardless of such dominance, he has proven the flexibility to boost his sport even larger. In 2019, outcomes of Magnus within the Shamkir Gashimov memorial, Grenke Traditional and particularly the win within the Zagreb GCT occasion nonetheless depart me awestruck. In Speedy and Blitz chess, he can appear much more dominating.
I feel his starvation and love for the sport hasn’t diminished in any respect. He finds the time and power to play all comers in all types of on-line codecs like bullet and performs minor occasions there. In the course of the pandemic, he began his personal On-line Tour and performed each single occasion. Whereas he appeared drained at occasions, he nonetheless gained the occasion, carried out constantly at a excessive stage.
There’s a caveat, I’ve noticed for a very long time that the world championship is the occasion and format he likes least. My studying is that he thinks it’s a format that neutralises his benefits and permits his opponents to struggle on even phrases with him. He has alluded to this on a number of events, suggesting that the classical match format could have run its course as a technique to decide the most effective participant. In his World title-matches with Fabiano Caruana and Sergey Karjakin, he appeared to be completely happy to begin the tiebreaks.
This 12 months, Magnus decreased the time he spent getting ready for Dubai and saved a heavy schedule of event appearances. I really feel he sees diminishing returns in coaching and desires to maintain taking part in. In his matches with Karjakin and Caruana, he confirmed a way of frustration throughout powerful phases and although he pulled via on the finish, I really feel he’s at battle with himself through the World Championship. A gentle one maybe, however a battle nonetheless. There’s a clear distinction between the Magnus we see on the World fast and blitz for instance and the one on the World championship.
Ian Nepomniachtchi is similar age as Magnus. They performed in cadet occasions collectively and have remained shut buddies since. Whereas Ian’s potential has been evident for a very long time, he’s a newcomer to the top-10, becoming a member of the listing solely in February 2019. It’s usually famous that he has a constructive classical rating in opposition to Magnus, however that is based mostly on previous outcomes and in current video games, they’ve been on even phrases with Magnus main in quicker time controls.
Ian is known for his confidence and his extremely fast play (I used to be as soon as the identical and I too needed to learn to average it to win the very best title). He’s well-known for aggressive play however his victories in opposition to Wesley So in 2019 and Wang Hao within the Candidates present that he has extra depth than he lets on. His expertise is unquestionable, however usually is accompanied by a sure volatility and unpredictability. He can play fantastic chess after which collapse the following day.
Can he beat Magnus? On paper, no. I can’t consider an space of the sport the place he leads Magnus and each stat factors in Magnus’s favour. Nonetheless, Ian may have educated nicely (Former challengers Peter Leko and Sergey Karjakin have each labored with him for the match and Ian confirmed that he misplaced 10 kilos throughout his match preparation).
If he can keep calm, his huge expertise, his velocity abilities which is able to turn out to be useful ought to they want tiebreaks and his self-confidence give us each proper to hope for an thrilling match.