Nepo’ takes lead against VachierLagrave
Nepo’ The Rebel
Nepo’ was thrust into the position of tournament favourite at the Jerusalem Grand Prix with a scintillating win against Frenchman Maxim VachierLaGrave in the first game of their semi-final match.
Both players are keen Grunfeld fans and so Nepo’s ‘new’ 8th move (Be3) from the White side will attract much interest from the opening theoreticians. In typically self-depreciating style, Nepo’ is quoted as saying ”It’s nothing serious, but it worked out pretty well.”
Wednesday’s game will see Vachier LaGrave need a win with the White pieces to tie the match or be eliminated. Should be exciting!
Russian born Ian Nepomniachtchi is 29 years old and at the peak of his powers. Earlier this year he won the Moscow Grand Prix, making him one of the favourites to qualify for the 2020 Candidates Tournament which will decide the challenger to Carlsen.
Nepo is also one of the very few (probably the ONLY! now that I reflect upon it!) elite grandmasters that is openingly critical of FIDE’s handling of the qualification process for deciding the World Championship title, as can be seen in comments immediately after winning the Moscow tournament:
Nepo does not just stop there, but has also questioned some of the important prejudices of elite chess, such as always inviting the same players over and over again to elite tournaments while ignoring players , albeit with somewhat lower ELOs, but who are no less strong. (Read this INTERVIEW)
Blog photo by Niki Riga.