This year’s World Championship, headlined by Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi, is the Grand Finale of 2021. The 4-time reigning Norwegian World Champion — Magnus Carlsen — and his childhood Russia rival — Ian Nepomniatchi — will battle it out from November 24 to December 16. Ian Nepomniachtchi, colloquially known as Nepo, presents Carlsen’s most interesting challenger to date. Nepo’s 4-1 record against Carlsen (albeit a few of those games played during their teenage years) is the worst record head-to-head record Carlsen has to date.
Game One of the clash saw Carlsen uncork a rare subvariation of the Ruy Lopez, 8…Na5!?, sacrificing a pawn for activity. Carlsen with his enterprising opening preparation looked comfortable throughout the game and had only him looking like he could’ve had more after the peaceful result. Game Two, the encounter I will look at below, featured a more double-edged battle, with Carlsen in potential trouble.
Game three saw Nepo repeat the Ruy Lopez and only achieve slight pressure out of the opening, only for Carlsen to equalize cleanly. I expect the next few games to continue to be fighting and entertaining for the chess world.