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World Chess Championship: Nepo Lost Game 8, His Chances to Win the Match Are Minimal

Game 8 of the World Chess Championship ended in a heartbreaking way for the Challenger. After an unexpected blunder, Magnus grabbed the opportunity and won the match. The overall score is 5-3 for the World Champion.

Photos: Niki Riga and Eric Rosen (FIDE)

“I feel that a match which was taking one course suddenly crashed against a tree.” were the words of Vishy Anand about the game and could easily become the quote of game 8.

Carlsen started the match with 1.e4, followed by Petroff – or else the Russian defenсe -, a familiar choice for Nepo. The early trades showed the GM’s intentions of equalizing the game and moving to a solid draw.

However, Nepo’s deep thought on move 9, made everyone wonder if the Russian was thinking to complicate the position to create winning opportunities. The defending Champion spent over 40 whole minutes, a worth-mentioning amount of time for one move, and replied with an unexpected move of his own. “My brain was just fried. I felt a sharp battle was not in my interests,” the Champion explained about this move.

Despite the surprises, the position started to simplify until Nepo’s 21st move, in which he blundered a pawn. After that, Nepo looked obviously disappointed and totally aware of the upcoming result. Before 33.b3 Vishy Anand said to Anna Muzychuk: “If I gave you a puzzle saying find a way to spoil it for White, you’d struggle.”

At the Press Conference, Nepo admitted that some of his early decisions were ‘silly’ and ‘impractical’, but didn’t feel he had been in much danger until move 21. “Obviously this wasn’t planned!” Ian added. Later, when Carlsen was asked about his strategy from then on and if he’s going to play safe to secure the title, he said: “We will see, won’t we? The match clock is ticking down, and that is in my favour.”

Twitter went crazy with Carlsen’s second win, but also acknowledged how tough it is to be a Challenger and how well prepared and talented Nepo actually is.

Anand in the aftermath of the game called Nepo’s performance ‘a meltdown’. His chances for winning the Match are almost zero — he will have to win two games on demand, and no one has done it before against Carlsen.

The match is best-of-14 games with a prize fund of 2 million euros, with 60 percent for the winner. Each win is worth a point and each draw is half a point. The first player to reach 7.5 points will be the winner. (If the match should be tied after 14 games, the players will proceed to a series of tie-breaker games.) It’s two more games than in the 2018 World Championship Match.

The venue for the event is located in downtown Dubai at the Dubai Expo.

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 4633   5 mo   Magnus Carlsen   Main feature   Match 2021   Nepo