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Nepomniachtchi: “Magnus felt like a hostage of the whole situation”

The reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen won’t defend his title against Ian Nepomniachtchi. The Russian GM will face the Chinese GM Ding Liren at the 2023 World Chess Championship match, but he is obviously disappointed by the turn of events.

Photo: Eric Rosen

The 2022 Challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi talked to Alejandro Ramirez for the Saint Louis Chess Club after his third rapid round loss to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov during the 2022 SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia.

How do you feel on the big news?

“It’s a human decision, it’s completely understandable and I totally respect it, because first of all me and Magnus have a relationship and we know each other for 20 years. So I can imagine it was a quite painful decision for him as well but I also feel like maybe he felt like a hostage of this whole situation, that he is obliged to defend the title every time. Perhaps it’s a huge pressure from my small experience compared to his of the World Championship match. Of course it’s kind disappointing for me but also it could cause quite some harm to chess but once again I don’t have permission to judge. I must say Magnus was, is and probably will be one of the greatest chess ambassadors, regardless his decision.”

Does it hold the same value not playing with the best player?

“I think so. More or less it’s the same. It’s a title match. Once again, I’ve said it many time, I evaluate Ding’s chess quality quite high. Magnus is a tremendous sportsman, which makes a difference, but chess-wise Ding is a completely outstanding player.”

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