25 June 2021

Nepo Interviews

In last week's post, Nepo at the World Cup (June 2021), I commented on GM Nepomniachtchi's Wikipedia page:-

I discovered that his Wikipedia page is only an outline of his career and reads like an incomplete laundry list. Perhaps his Russian language Wikipedia page was better constructed. After running the Russian page through Google translate, I decided, 'No', it wasn't much better, but it had links to other Russian language resources that might prove to be more comprehensive.

In this post, I'll use Google Translate to excerpt from a couple of Russian language interviews. The first link has no date, but a list of Russian champions indicates that the most recent championship was in 2010, where Nepo won. The first excerpts are from the interview Champion of Russia Yan Nepomniachtchi: I defeated star fever (archive.org -> sovsport.ru):-

It was phenomenal! In the deadly battle of Armageddon, a blitz game where White must win, Ian Nepomniachtchi wins the title of champion of Russia and throws himself into the arms of a charming blonde [his 'girlfriend Yana'; ...]

Q: About five years ago, chess experts said that three new talents appeared in the world, three contenders for the title of world champion: Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi, but then there was talk that you dropped out of this race. But your performance this year proves otherwise. • A: Of course, even then it was flattering to hear what a gifted guy I am, laughs Jan. It didn't do me any good. All victories were too easy for me, without any effort I smashed my peers. At this age, it is difficult to control character. I was going through a long and lingering star fever. But, having matured, [I] defeated her. And now I began to work harder on myself, the results came. During the time that I was marking time, Carlsen and Karjakin went into a solid lead. Especially Magnus. Now it will be difficult for me to catch up, but I have a desire to play chess and play well.

The second interview, Nepomniachtchi: I would like to meet the expression "I see a goal - I see no obstacles" (chesspro.ru; November 2013), was after the 2013 World Cup, Tromso (Norway), where he was eliminated in the first round by Wei Yi:-

One of the strongest Russian grandmasters, a representative of the stellar generation of the 90s, Yan Nepomniachtchi, shared the first place at the Superfinal of the Russian Championship and only lost the title of Russian champion in a tie-break to Peter Svidler. [...]

Q: I have heard the opinion that you play stronger when, in a good way, you are afraid of the one who is sitting opposite. Did the underestimation of the opponent not affect the game in the World Cup? • A: There was no underestimation, rather, there was an overestimation. I thought that in the first round I could get a more "tourist" opponent. But it turned out that I did not approach the second game in an optimal state, in an amicable way, I had to make a draw and win a tie-break. But I decided to fight, we both played rather weakly, at some point I blundered rudely and got a hopeless endgame. And as Leko said: "The World Cup is such a tournament in which I lost one game and that's it - Voyage, voyage!" After this game, I even thought to quit chess ...

Q: Probably, this has come to mind more than once throughout your career? • A: No, it just didn’t come to that much, and even now the idea arose out of emotion - nevertheless, the blow was quite heavy. Firstly, I was serious about this tournament, and secondly, I clearly understood how I had to act, but in the end I did everything differently myself. [...]

Q: Many people say that the World Cup is absolutely a lottery tournament. As already mentioned: one mistake - and you go home. So is there any point in making a serious bet on him and trying to predict something? • A: It is difficult to predict, but one can and should try to perform as best as possible, after all, the World Cup gives an opportunity to get into the Candidates Tournament. And I think that this strategy was quite suitable for me - making draws in the classics and winning in rapid. My recent performances make it possible to consider that rapid is now my strong point. Another thing is that just a rapid tournament and a rapid tie-break tournament are, as they say in Odessa, two big differences. In a knockout, each game is played with such tension, with which, probably, only the decisive game for first place takes place in Swiss, so fatigue builds up faster. Therefore, it seems reasonable not to give all the best in the classics and keep the strength for a tie-break.

Q: Perhaps, the people already call it the Grischuk-Andreikin system ... • A: Yes, but the fact of the matter is that this strategy really works. One can only envy how competently Dima [Andreikin, who lost in the final match to Kramnik] implemented it.

Q: Are you saying that it is universal? After all, you and Andreikin have completely different styles of play. • A: Styles are different, but more importantly, we both play fast. I am not a fan of making quick draws with White, but for the sake of an important goal, you can suffer. In a knockout, unlike other systems, there is no value of a separate victory, only the next round is important. Andreikin reached the final, which means he is a fine fellow, no matter how many games he won in the classics.

Further comments on Carlsen are also relevant. The interview was held before the first match with Anand, but let's close this post with a video.

Interview with FIDE Candidates winner Ian Nepomniachtchi (7:15) • '[Published on] Apr 26, 2021'

See also this video interview from a few days before Nepomniachtchi won the right to challenge the World Champion: Magnus Carlsen on Ian Nepomniachtchi.

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