Chess World Championship: Trailing Nepo continues to win hearts

When the action resumes on Tuesday, armed with white pieces, Nepo is expected to come very hard at Carlsen.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

When the action resumes on Tuesday, armed with white pieces, Nepo is expected to come very hard at Carlsen.   -  AP

“In general I’d like to apologise for today’s performance. It was probably far below not even my normal level, but in general I think it was below a GM (Grandmaster) level.”

These words from challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi aptly reflected how he felt about the tame surrender to Magnus Carlsen in Game 8 on Sunday.

Unlike in some of the other World championship clashes, where the loser of the day declines to either come to the post-game media conference or keeps his replies to minimum, Nepo has gamely faced all the questions and won hearts for his forthright responses.

Consider this: “I think at the beginning of the match I got quite some chances, and hopefully if I play well I will keep getting these chances, so it’s about my play, and I don’t think I should think about the score. Indeed, it would be better to have an equal score instead of this one (5-3), but we have what we have.”

READ| Carlsen firmly in the driving seat

Reflecting on his pawn-blunder on the 21st move of Game 8, Nepo said, “In a very drawish position, blundering a pawn like this — it hurts!”

Carlsen realised how miserable his good friend Nepo was feeling and said, “The World Championship is tough. It’s really brutal emotionally with its ups and downs, and it's part of what makes it exciting and also extremely tough.”

A lot of people felt the after-affects of Game 6 - the record-setting 136-move epic encounter - could have taken its toll on Nepo in Game 8.

Carlsen agreed in his own way, “I don’t think I would have won this game, if I had not won the first one (Game 6).”

When the action resumes on Tuesday, armed with white pieces, Nepo is expected to come very hard at Carlsen.

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