Nepo to Face Carlsen in Norway 90 days Before the Match
In less than 90 days, the Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi will face his friend and fierce rival Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship match that looks like an existential dilemma of Shakespearean proportions: beating and breaking the spirit of someone who is a little like your brother.
Even Henrik Carlsen, Magnus’s ever-protective father and manager, referred to Nepo as someone whom he deeply cared about.
Nepo and Carlsen will face each other mere 3 months before the Match in another chess event, Norway Chess, and both will surely treat it as an important indicator of their performance in the Match. But niceties aside, they will probably try to beat each other psychologically, and it will be especially difficult for Nepo, so we recommend tuning in for the broadcast on September 7.
Both players, who already started preparations for the Match, will probably steer clear of using their best ideas in Norway, and will try to win on sheer skill. On the cosmic level of play and form, that usually means a draw, but there may be surprises.
But Nepo will play in Norway, Carlsen’s hometurf, and will have to deal with the Norwegian press that abhors civility (yes, they are that good!), and he will have to work hard not to be rattled.
The spectators (and both players and their teams) will see the games between Nepo and Carlsen as a preview of the Match, and it will be, if not on the chess preparation level.
We will have to look for asymmetry between the players’ appetite for hardball, the way they deploy humor in press conferences, and desire to go nuclear if needed.