When this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the framework of the World Expo in Dubai, the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi moves the white pawn, the fourth defense of the world title of the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen will begin, who won it in 2013 against the Indian Viswanathan Anand, and then held it against Anand himself (2014), the Russian Kariakin (2016), and the American Caruana (2018). Nepo (31) and Magnus (30) are contemporaries, rivals and such friends that the Norwegian has on occasion counted on the Russian as an analyst in the defense of a World Cup.

Nepo, sixth in the ranking, winner in the longest Candidates Tournament in history, in Etkaterembungo, which began in 2020 and ended in 2021 due to the pandemic, is clear to him “That for a month friendship is relegated”, and more than the bag (1.2 million euros for the champion and 800,000 for the defeated) it is about the mission he has with his country: to return the title to Russia, without a champion since 2007 (Vladimir Krannik). Regarding the bag, 60 percent for the winner, it should also be noted that it goes to 55 and 45 percent if in the end the title is decided in the tiebreaker with the rapid, in which Carlsen has won and collected all the world championships.

At the tournament presentation both players refused to be photographed with the trophy (a 999 carat dolerite with 39 pearls and a diamond, designed and finished in Russia) or to discover the components of their equipment, or to reveal tactics, although in view of the fact that Ian has taken this opportunity so seriously that he has lost weight (at least 12 kilos) because he has finally worked for two months with a physical trainer.

The World Cup is played in 14 games, two more than that of 2018 with Caruana, in which all finished in a draw and Carlson won in the rapids: the one who gets 7.5 points wins. And if there is a tie, it is decided by rapid, lightning, and ultimately by the famous game Argamedón.

Of their clashes in the traditional game Nepo has won three, Magnus one and in four they have drawn, but even so the favorite is the Norwegian because of the instability of the Russian, a staunch supporter of Spartak Moscow, who has given up watching his team’s matches because of what the results influence him. Real Madrid player Carlsen seems more relaxed in the footballing part.


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