Ian Niepómniashi tried to climb Everest when he had no oxygen left, and he fell down the ravine. The Russian finally decided to seek melee when his mental strength was already weak, and lost this Tuesday the 9th game of the 14 scheduled in the Dubai World Cup after falling in the 6th and 8th. The Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, with the crown almost guaranteed (6-3), will lead the white pieces on Wednesday in the 10th.
After the defeat, Niepómniashi had an exemplary behavior, very different from the tantrums, scares and bad faces frequent in the champion the very few times he lost, especially until 2018. The candidate appeared in the press room in good spirits, and explained: “ Until I made that huge mistake, the position was more or less advantageous for me. I just didn’t see that my bishop was going to get locked up and lost. “
Like other days, Carlsen measured his words while sitting next to his rival: “It is very rare for a player of Ian’s level to give you a clean piece. And he was also unlucky, because in the resulting position I didn’t even have a resource that could complicate my victory. ” But first, in the quick testimonies that he usually gives behind the scenes, he was more forceful: “The tremendous tension of a duel for the World Cup can bring down anyone. But it is true that Ian has a greater tendency than other players to sink after a bad result ”.
Certainly, Niepómniashi suffers from this problem since his youth. Everything indicates that he has worked on the psychological aspect with professionals in the last six months, after winning the Candidates Tournament, because he showed various symptoms of improvement in the first six games. But it has not been enough to seal such a hole solidly.
One wonders then if his main mistake did not occur before the duel started, when he decided on his overall strategy. Probably under the advice and great influence of his compatriot Sergei Kariakin, who lost the quick tiebreaker to Carlsen in 2016, Niepómniashi decided not to stay true to the style that has defined him throughout his career as a fierce gladiator, always ready for risk and creativity. . Playing with a lot more caution, he had five draws before falling in the sixth round.
With the emergency lights fired on the Russian delegation, Karyakin flew from Moscow to Dubai on Monday to comfort his pupil, who also cut his hair. He also removed his jacket before the game began, and hung it over the back of his chair. Then he finally chose an opening with the white pieces that gave him a reasonable chance of achieving a complex position, where any of the three results would be reasonable. Carlsen also understood it that way, because it took him very little to imitate his opponent and take off his jacket, psyched up for a long and bloody fight.
However, that sturdy-looking facade hid an interior full of termites. It is true that Niepómniashi achieved a promising position. But the first sign of collapse was seen in the fifteenth set, when he rejected an aggressive idea, typical of his style, and objectively good. And the absolute disaster came in the 27th: a huge mistake, unbecoming of any professional player.
They asked Carlsen if he felt sorry for the Russian: “Certainly, one prefers to beat an opponent who plays at his highest level. But this is the World Championship, an inappropriate place for mercy ”.
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