The Nepo Shuffle -- The 2021 World Chess Championship

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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This one isn’t over quite yet. Ian surely has something prepared in which he goes for a win with the black pieces. I wouldn’t bet on Carlsen not being able to handle it but it could get dramatic.

Ian’s problem is the monumental effort it will take just to get to rapid, where Carlsen should be strong.

But Nepo has two days and the white pieces. If he can find a way in game 9 it will get really interesting. If not it is basically dormie.
 

Jnai

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This one isn’t over quite yet. Ian surely has something prepared in which he goes for a win with the black pieces. I wouldn’t bet on Carlsen not being able to handle it but it could get dramatic.

Ian’s problem is the monumental effort it will take just to get to rapid, where Carlsen should be strong.

But Nepo has two days and the white pieces. If he can find a way in game 9 it will get really interesting. If not it is basically dormie.
This would require a kind of 28-3 simultaneous brilliance/collapse. I can't imagine giving Nepo odds of anything better than one in a thousand and even that might be too low.
 

coremiller

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This would require a kind of 28-3 simultaneous brilliance/collapse. I can't imagine giving Nepo odds of anything better than one in a thousand and even that might be too low.
Yeah. Carlsen has now played 53 games in world championship matches, and has lost only 2 of them, being unbeaten in his last 24 games. He's not going to lose 2 in 4 now.
 

SumnerH

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Agreed, but I hope Nepo takes his shot. Seeing whatever his plans to take a shot with black are will be interesting, and there are no guarantees that he ever makes it back here so it's probably better to go for it than to try to save that prep.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Yeah. Carlsen has now played 53 games in world championship matches, and has lost only 2 of them, being unbeaten in his last 24 games. He's not going to lose 2 in 4 now.
It is important to note that in many of those games he was playing with an opponent who was playing for a draw or who was willing to settle for one because the match was close. Not the two Vishy ones where he basically rolled but certainly the last two were like that.

Carlsen is a heavy favorite. But chess is funny and there is lots of chess left — six games actually not four.

Nepo is really freaking good — far better than he played today or yesterday and all he needs is to find one edge. These games will be sharper. His back is against the wall. He comes out and wins game 9 and everything is in play again.

If I am Nepo I try to relax and realize I cannot win two games all at once. I tell myself I need one win in the next four and then go into the last pair of games and anything can happen.

Carlsen has looked good but not immortal this tournament. There have been moments for Nepo. Nepo is better than Duda and look what Duda did to Carlsen a few months ago once he found a tiny crack in the armor.

Magnus is clearly the favorite. But Nepo still has more games left with the white pieces than he is points behind in the match.
 

coremiller

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It is important to note that in many of those games he was playing with an opponent who was playing for a draw or who was willing to settle for one because the match was close. Not the two Vishy ones where he basically rolled but certainly the last two were like that.

Carlsen is a heavy favorite. But chess is funny and there is lots of chess left — six games actually not four.

Nepo is really freaking good — far better than he played today or yesterday and all he needs is to find one edge. These games will be sharper. His back is against the wall. He comes out and wins game 9 and everything is in play again.

If I am Nepo I try to relax and realize I cannot win two games all at once. I tell myself I need one win in the next four and then go into the last pair of games and anything can happen.

Carlsen has looked good but not immortal this tournament. There have been moments for Nepo. Nepo is better than Duda and look what Duda did to Carlsen a few months ago once he found a tiny crack in the armor.

Magnus is clearly the favorite. But Nepo still has more games left with the white pieces than he is points behind in the match.
You're right, there are six games left. I don't think it makes that much difference.

If you're talking about the World Cup, Duda beat Magnus once in a rapid tiebreak after they drew the classical games. That's hardly the same as beating Carlsen twice in classical when Carlsen has had months to prepare, and when Carlsen is playing with a lead and doesn't need to take any risks.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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You're right, there are six games left. I don't think it makes that much difference.

If you're talking about the World Cup, Duda beat Magnus once in a rapid tiebreak after they drew the classical games. That's hardly the same as beating Carlsen twice in classical when Carlsen has had months to prepare, and when Carlsen is playing with a lead and doesn't need to take any risks.
I'm not saying it's a high probability. But Duda had Carlsen on the ropes in the two classical games and then beat him in the first (longish) rapid round with the black pieces.

Carlsen admitted after the round that he had trouble calculating and it was pretty clear yesterday that he could not calculate particularly well when Nepo surprised him with H4, so he resorted to essentially offering a draw. Why Nepo didn't take it is something he is surely questioning. Carlsen is the best player in the world. Maybe ever. He has a commanding lead but I just don't think this is going to end with Nepo going quietly. There will be fireworks. It may result in Nepo getting too aggressive and Carlsen actually getting a 3d win, which would be the end. But we'll see.

It's an uphill climb for Nepo, for sure. If Carlsen defends a Marshall or whatever tomorrow with ease then I think psychologically it's going to be hard for Nepo. And the biggest problem that Nepo has is that even if he can get two wins in the next six it means he has to play in rapid -- though the truth is that Nepo has actually been playing quicker.

I think Nepo is going to get at least one win in the next six games and maybe even with the black pieces. If I'm Nepo, I'm thinking "don't let me win tomorrow."
 

Bread of Yaz

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I'm not saying it's a high probability. But Duda had Carlsen on the ropes in the two classical games and then beat him in the first (longish) rapid round with the black pieces.

Carlsen admitted after the round that he had trouble calculating and it was pretty clear yesterday that he could not calculate particularly well when Nepo surprised him with H4, so he resorted to essentially offering a draw. Why Nepo didn't take it is something he is surely questioning. Carlsen is the best player in the world. Maybe ever. He has a commanding lead but I just don't think this is going to end with Nepo going quietly. There will be fireworks. It may result in Nepo getting too aggressive and Carlsen actually getting a 3d win, which would be the end. But we'll see.

It's an uphill climb for Nepo, for sure. If Carlsen defends a Marshall or whatever tomorrow with ease then I think psychologically it's going to be hard for Nepo. And the biggest problem that Nepo has is that even if he can get two wins in the next six it means he has to play in rapid -- though the truth is that Nepo has actually been playing quicker.

I think Nepo is going to get at least one win in the next six games and maybe even with the black pieces. If I'm Nepo, I'm thinking "don't let me win tomorrow."
This is where I'm at too. The odds are long, and he likely wont get there, but Nepo isn't dead yet. If had to have played a game today he could have tilted, but the day off may provide him with some distance to put the b5 move in the rear view mirror. Nepo had chances in the first four or five games, and he defended tenaciously in the sixth game loss, so the match hasn't been as lopsided as the score might indicated. And to my mind Nepo generally has the kind of upbeat demeanor and approach that may allow him to use the last game debacle as motivation to push for a win rather than curl up in the fetal position. Tomorrow's a big day.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Nepo got an interesting position in the opening but missed his chance for an advantage had he played 15 b4 and now things look drawish. He's just not accurate enough. By contrast, Caruana's commentary on Chess.com is fascinating, and shows the precise construct of mind needed to go toe to toe with Carlsen.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Well, this should do it. Nepo just playing way too fast and loose. I was really hoping he would make it a tournament but to come out after the rest day and play like this is kind of shocking. He did not have the temperament for this tournament and he is playing the consummate grinder.

All the stuff the commenters were saying early — moving too fast, not spending enough time over the board — seemed like they might be indicators of excellent prep. But, nope.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Nepo got an interesting position in the opening but missed his chance for an advantage had he played 15 b4 and now things look drawish. He's just not accurate enough. By contrast, Caruana's commentary on Chess.com is fascinating, and shows the precise construct of mind needed to go toe to toe with Carlsen.
This did not age well.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I've been watching the post-game press conferences but I don't think that I am going to watch this one. Having one today seems almost cruel.

Poor Ian -- I'm sure he just wants to go home but now even with draw draw he will end up having to stay the extra rest day until it's over. Maybe he'll come back and play for pride.
 

Bread of Yaz

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I've been watching the post-game press conferences but I don't think that I am going to watch this one. Having one today seems almost cruel.

Poor Ian -- I'm sure he just wants to go home but now even with draw draw he will end up having to stay the extra rest day until it's over. Maybe he'll come back and play for pride.
Good decision. Carlsen now shitting all over Nepo, says his blunder was "absurd," that "you don't expect to win a piece for nothing at this level," and that "I'd rather win a good game than one by luck."
 

Bread of Yaz

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Good decision. Carlsen now shitting all over Nepo, says his blunder was "absurd," that "you don't expect to win a piece for nothing at this level," and that "I'd rather win a good game than one by luck."
"You prefer to beat an opponent who's playing his best but if not you take it."
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I actually changed my mind and I'm watching it. Wish I hadn't.

The truth is that I kind of think "absurd" is accurate. Carlsen is pretty clearly disappointed. He's been the champion for a while and I think just continuing being the champion is not the thing that animates him exclusively. I think he wants the challenge of playing a player at his best and beating him and he probably was ready for that kind of tournament.

I mean, I'm sure he'll get over the disappointment. :0) But I get what he's kind of talking about -- and while he's very good with English it is not his primary. I obviously started this thread because I was very excited about this tournament and I'm really disappointed with how it's turned out. I thought it was going to be different, right until today.

Oh well I guess, the Grand Prix should be good.
 
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DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Just a further thought on this -- they say that one of the things that sent Morphy off the rails was that he was unable to find a true challenge. He willed himself across Europe in search of a legitimate opponent to the point of exhaustion and to the extent that he had very severe health issues. He was tired of kicking the shit out of everyone in simultaneous blindfolded exhibitions and stuff like that.

I don't think Magnus is in quite that position. But this guy knows every significant chess game there is and he knows the moves and the moments that have gone down in history as evergreen. Think of the Papi grand slam against the Tigers. I think Magnus is looking for those moments and he wants his chance at bat when they come up. I don't know the guy, but that's my guess where he's at.

He got one of those this tournament but then it was a total dud and it's a tournament that he knows will largely be forgotten and one that is not going to make the Agamator "good stuff" pantheon.

Maybe he should keep that more to himself. But when you stick these players in front of a camera right after the game this is exactly what you're going to get. Magnus doesn't have the same experience with this stuff as Bill Belichick.

I said right before the tournament that I wasn't sure the current candidates selection cycle was the best way to find the true number 2 and I am even more convinced. I also think that it was a mistake for Ian to decide not to play the candidates qualification tournaments just because he had already qualified.
 
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Jnai

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Honestly that level of blunder *is* absurd, and if anything I thought Magnus was pretty professional about the whole thing. What is he supposed to say? It's not like Nepo failed to realize that 27 moves in some crazy line he was going to lose a pawn, he straight up gifted Magnus a whole piece.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Honestly that level of blunder *is* absurd, and if anything I thought Magnus was pretty professional about the whole thing. What is he supposed to say? It's not like Nepo failed to realize that 27 moves in some crazy line he was going to lose a pawn, he straight up gifted Magnus a whole piece.
Yes, it was absurd in fact but there's a time and a place to say things. Fine to say it back in your hotel room with your team while celebrate. I cant imagine So, Aronian or Caruana using the same word in these circumstances.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The thing that's so shocking about it is that Ian had the white pieces and a very very significant time advantage. He had more than 50 minutes before the move was played and Carlsen was down to under 18 with a lot of moves left to get to time control.

Anyway, on the subject at hand about Carlsen's press conference I really hope that they will do away with the press conferences right after the games and hold them only on the off days from now on.
 

SumnerH

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Anyway, on the subject at hand about Carlsen's press conference I really hope that they will do away with the press conferences right after the games and hold them only on the off days from now on.
The conference was awful. Some reporter tried to manufacture a controversy by asking Magnus whether an adjustment was a touch-move violation, and Magnus (rightfully) just told the reporter “do better”.

Magnus after C5:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZOpt6IEy74
 

Jnai

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in that press conference Someone asked Nepo if he cut his hair out of shame in homage to the Samurai tradition.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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He’s trying. I just don’t know psychologically how he can put in the hard work of grinding the shit out of the position for a small edge today without letting “I need three wins” creep in.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The amount of time left on the clock when Nepo has been making these moves is really disappointing. Magnus is just grinding and calculating every position and Nepo has been too impatient.
 

Jnai

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I wonder if Nepo ever makes it back to this level. This feels like some kind of resignation.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I wonder if Nepo ever makes it back to this level. This feels like some kind of resignation.
He has a long time until the candidates to build his confidence back and so we will see. But his temperament was not suited for this event. There was a tournament recently where Ding Liren was just absolutely terrible over the board when he was very highly ranked. Just couldn't calculate and looked terrible. Then he came back and was great in subsequent tournaments. It might have been just one of those things.

We need Fabi in next challenge. Seeing his calculation powers on Chess.com has been extraordinary.
Carlsen was the winner in this tournament. But Fabi is definitely the runner up.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I wouldn't think there's enough interest to have separate threads for different events but I wonder if we should just keep this as a catchall chess thread.
 
FWIW, it was announced today that the World Blitz & Rapid Championships are going ahead in Warsaw from 25-30 December. (It was supposed to be in Kazakhstan, but new COVID regulations made that impossible.) I think I'll be paying attention to that tournament now, to the extent that I can find a good place to follow it online.
 

Bread of Yaz

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FWIW, it was announced today that the World Blitz & Rapid Championships are going ahead in Warsaw from 25-30 December. (It was supposed to be in Kazakhstan, but new COVID regulations made that impossible.) I think I'll be paying attention to that tournament now, to the extent that I can find a good place to follow it online.

It will be on chess.com (and probably other places too).

https://www.chess.com/article/view/fide-world-rapid-blitz-championship
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Will be middle of the night in the U.S.

It will be interesting to see what kind of field they get. It is an open tournament. You just need a high enough rating and to get yourself to Warsaw and you can play.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Will be middle of the night in the U.S.

It will be interesting to see what kind of field they get. It is an open tournament. You just need a high enough rating and to get yourself to Warsaw and you can play.
$700000 in prizes so should be well attended. Carlsen and Naka going
 

Mr Jums

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And now a howler with g3. Match over.
On chess.com GM Sam Shankland writes up his analysis of each of the games. This is what he had to say about that move:

"Now, the only explanation I have for the next move is that there are 2 versions of Nepo. He did not just blitz out g2-g3 without thinking and miss something obvious because he was not paying attention. He spent nine minutes, and still came up with a move that is very hard to understand from a player of his caliber. Sometimes he just seems to tilt really hard. I know from my own experience - I've played him twice. The first time I was on the black side of a Caro-Kann, and he played a fantastically energetic game. It was a wild fight with plenty of chances for both sides. He did not play perfectly, as nobody ever really does in super-complicated positions, but after a somewhat back and forth affair, he found a lot of best moves plenty of times, and eventually ground out a well-deserved win.

The other time I play him, it was toward the end of a tournament, I guess he may have been struggling with stamina, and he played some d6/g6/a6/e6 set up, moving pawns around in the first few moves without developing his pieces, and I absolutely demolished him with almost no effort. It was a weird feeling afterward, that I had a crushed a near-2800 so easily, and I can imagine this is probably how Magnus is feeling now. Every now and then, this seriously sub-optimal version of Nepo shows up, and unfortunately for him it came at the worst possible time.

23. g3?? Not only does this move lose violently, it absolutely forces Black to play the winning combination since everything else is tantamount to resigning."

Based on this, I think what DDB said about his temperament is apt. Sounds like endurance and mental stamina played a big part and as it dragged on and he fell behind he just didn't have it in him to recover.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Magnus says he is leaning away from defending his title unless Firouzja qualifies in the candidates. (No pressure on the kid.) This explains some of the press conferences and his seeming joyless demeanor at times. I think just being champ is not enough and he does not appear to have enjoyed the match with Nepo very much.

This is going to make the candidates tournament pretty weird and potentially exciting. It sets up a situation in which the top two at the candidates could end up playing for the title if Firouzja doesn’t win. If he comes in second, what then? I guess Carlsen would step aside and then he would play for the championship but not against Carlsen?

This has to making FIDE a bit nervous. To have Carlsen as a player actively playing near a 2900 level but not for the championship would be strange and lead to some potential divided champion type arguments.

This also has to be weird for the challengers who possibly were motivated by the chance to play Carlsen and now face the prospect of being a world champion that nobody believes is the best player in the world. Not unprecedented but not ideal.

Who knows if Magnus will change his mind. I hope he declares his intentions for sure before the Candidates tournament.

View: https://youtu.be/pcrqQBaxw7k
 

YankeesIsrael

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Will be middle of the night in the U.S.

It will be interesting to see what kind of field they get. It is an open tournament. You just need a high enough rating and to get yourself to Warsaw and you can play.
For those of us who failed to get to the minimum 2550 mark and had to stay home - 5 out of 13 rapid rounds have been played today. The co-leaders with 4.5/5 are Duda, Jobava (they just drew a thriller), and Carlsen, who already won 2 drawn endgames.
 

SumnerH

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Duda was late to his rapid game against Magnus today, and Magnus prevented the arbiter from starting the clock until Duda showed up. Dunno if that's common or not but it was nice to see. Would have cost Duda about 30 seconds.
 

Bread of Yaz

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And showing that old habits die hard, Nepo played Duda, beat him, and ended up with one minute more on the clock than he started with.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The kid that Carlsen plays first tomorrow is having some tournament. He is in second place only having dropped 1.5 points despite playing a veritable who's who of chess. Caruana, Nepo, Griscchuk, Aronian, Gelfand, Wojtaszek.

The former world championship challengers in that group, and the others are massive players too. He started the tournament at 2593 and has gained almost 60 points.

He gets the white pieces against Magnus. Could be some story.

Nakamura versus Firouzja tomorrow too.
 

SumnerH

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The kid that Carlsen plays first tomorrow is having some tournament. He is in second place only having dropped 1.5 points despite playing a veritable who's who of chess. Caruana, Nepo, Griscchuk, Aronian, Gelfand, Wojtaszek.

The former world championship challengers in that group, and the others are massive players too. He started the tournament at 2593 and has gained almost 60 points.

He gets the white pieces against Magnus. Could be some story.
Abdusattorov. He beat Caruana, Aronian, Gelfand, and Wajtaszek. But as Jnai notes, Magnus is absolutely on fire at the moment; Abdusattorov is going to need everything he can muster to have a chance.

Kosteniuk is rampaging through the women's side, too. She's playing some great chess.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Carlsen probably will wipe the floor with the kid, yeah, but it is set up to be a great story if he doesn’t. I don’t exactly know the mechanics of these Swiss tournaments but my perception is that in this kind of scenario it is crucial for the favorite actually to win because if a lower rated player does really well and gets to the top and you don’t win, you drop tiebreak points. So Carlsen may need a win with the black pieces.

Kostenuik is such a neat story. World champion who had other priorities for a decade and now is back to kicking ass. Never played a bad move at the World Cup for three weeks and now dominating rapid.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Duda was late to his rapid game against Magnus today, and Magnus prevented the arbiter from starting the clock until Duda showed up. Dunno if that's common or not but it was nice to see. Would have cost Duda about 30 seconds.
Doubly impressive because Magnus was a minute late for his game against Firouza.

View: https://twitter.com/chess24com/status/1475490282770677763?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1475490282770677763%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fchess24.com%2Fen%2Fread%2Fnews%2Fworld-rapid-day-2-magnus-beats-firouzja-duda