SPORTS KEN: Carlsen vs Nepomniatchi

Chess will take center stage when Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi duel for the title in the World Chess Championship in Dubai this week (Nov.24).

With a $2M prize fund, the money will be split 60 for the winner and 40 for the loser.

Not bad. The prize is getting bigger every time.

The opening rites are slated Wednesday and the first official tussle on Friday. If the competition ends in a deadlock at 7-7, rapid/speed tiebreak games will ensue to settle it.

Carlsen, the defending and reigning title holder from Norway and favored (4-1) to retain his crown, has been unceasingly honing his preparation by actively participating in scheduled elite chess tournaments, copping three legs of the the 2021 Champions Chess Tour enroute to running away with the championship trophy.

Carlsen is reported to have a prominent crew of seconds to review and assist him. Since 2013 after defeating Viswanathan Anand in a monumental upset of sorts held in Anand’s homecourt, Chennai, India, he has maintained his rating as world number one.

Nepo or Ian as his chess colleagues call him, is a two-time Russian champion who cannot be dismissed easily.
He topped the Candidates Matches held early this year to earn the challenger’s right.

A contemporary of Carlsen in the European circuit, Nepo’s distinctive style of play may puzzle the former as proven by their head to head encounters.
The two have been rivals since they first competed in under 12 tournaments.

Elite super GMs interviewed could not make a pick although many quietly agree that the Norwegian champ has the edge.
Nepo will want to prove everybody wrong. He is a year older at 31. Carlsen reaches 31 summers at November’s end.

Nepo is of Jewish Russian descent (full name: Ian Alexandrovich Nepomniachtchi).

I am rooting for the underdog, Nepo, that is, who has an unorthodox and aggressive style. He has the fearsome reputation of putting unlikely pressure on his opponents regardless of the risks.

He wears a bun on his head and a beard that makes him look like a Hollywood action star.
Well, actually both of them are good looking.

Anyway, Carlsen, for all the 8 consecutive years as king of world chess, is not totally invincible and unbeatable.

FIl-Am super GM Wesley So, who is also being touted as a serious contender for the world title, has defeated him several times.

Carlsen’s edge is that everybody recognizes his innate talent in standard classical games. He is very creative even when on the retreat.

Should Nepo emerge victorious, he will be joining the elite list of Jewish world champions that includes Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. (Email your feedback to fredlumba@yahoo.com.) GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!

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