Being very busy and under extreme stress can be a way out of depression. But Ian Niepómniashi thinks otherwise and brazenly sought the equalizer in the 10th round of the 14 scheduled at the Dubai World Chess Championship. Magnus Carlsen, surprised by this attitude, decided not to fight despite playing with the white pieces. The Norwegian is only one point away (6.5-3.5) to keep the crown. Presumably the Russian will launch on the 11th, on Friday from 1:30 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time).
The arrival of both and their respective entourages at the Dubai Conference Center (DEC), within the Universal Expo site, was very significant. Carlsen, smiling and relaxed. Niepómniashi, very serious, accompanied by his coach, Vladimir Potkin, and his main analyst, the world runner-up in 2016 Sergei Karyakin, nicknamed Minister of Defense for his virtuosity in this area, with black glasses that gave him the appearance of a secret agent.
Kariakin’s style is the opposite of the warrior ardor and creativity that always defined Niepomniashi. One of the keys to analyzing what happened in this duel will be whether the Russian’s strategy – playing in a manner contrary to his natural tendency – under the enormous influence of Kariakin, was the most appropriate. Certainly, his spirits were badly damaged Tuesday by the tremendous mistake he made in Game 9, but it is arguable that brooding bitterness while playing a soporific game is better than covering the pain with a brutal fight.
And the game was clearly narcotic, albeit short (two hours). He had only one very interesting, and also significant moment about the psychological struggle. The Scandinavian thought his eighth cast for 20 minutes due to the temptation of a move (8 Be3) that prevented the change of queens and predicted a long and perhaps violent fight; the alternative was torpor. It can be assured that in the champion’s mind there were two conflicting ideas: A) Accepting the challenge and trying to win the game and the duel in an epic champion plan, after a fierce combat; B) Smoking the opium pipe and indulging in placid drowsiness. After the game he explained why he chose B): “Although Ian seemed more likely to take risks today despite playing Black, last night there was an intense discussion in my team about what my attitude should be otherwise. We finally opted for caution and I agreed. Still, it was tempting to play 8 Be3, which is why I have thought about it so much.
While some spectators took advantage of the lethargy and silence for pleasant naps, bad news emerged in the press room: the Rapid Chess World Cup, scheduled in Kazakhstan from December 26 to 30, is canceled due to anti-covid restrictions in that country from Central Asia. Asked by this newspaper about possible alternatives, sources from the International Federation (FIDE) revealed that they are sounding out a proposal from Spain, among others.
Arriving at set 41, and thus fulfilling the prohibition of agreeing draws in less than 40, Carlsen and Niepómniashi sealed their dowry with a handshake. The Slav explained his attitude to the press: “I will try to risk in the two games that I will play with white. Today, the goal was not to make a mistake as gross as yesterday ”. Since that attitude is still strange when he loses by three, a journalist asked him if he is still fighting to win the duel. And the Russian took out his pride: “That question is absurd.”
Subscribe to weekly newsletter ‘Wonderful play’, by Leontxo García