Nepomniachtchi is the 2023 Challenger… against Carlsen?
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi entered Round 13 of the 2022 Candidates Tournament leading with a +2 advantage over Ding Liren and Hikaru Nakamura. Nepo needed just a draw in two rounds and today he got it against Richard Rapport.
Ian Nepomniachtchi had a solid start at the Candidates, took advantage of every winning opportunity, and defended a couple of tough positions successfully. As many commentators acknowledged, Nepo’s performance was a great one, but that wasn’t because the Russian GM played brilliantly, but the other GMs didn’t play exemplary. As a result, Nepo looked like he was cruising the tournament achieving an impressive score of 8.5/12 with 5 wins, and a 2792 live rating.
In Round 13, the Russian GM played against Richard Rapport. “He is a true superstar and will definitely try to make Nepo’s life a struggle” GM Daniil Yuffa said during the broadcast. The Hungarian initiated the Taimanov Sicilian with Nepo choosing – as expected – a very solid variation for white. After a balanced game, the two players drew by repetition and Nepo won the tournament with a round to spare!
“As I said two years ago, it’s very important to try not to lose. If you don’t lose, it’s surely going alright.” Nepo has said in a post-game interview and it definitely worked for him to become the Challenger for the second time. What will Magnus do though?!
Take a look at the Nepomniachtchi-Rapport game: