Ian Nepomniachtchi is likely to look back on his consecutive losses in 2021 and 2023 with disappointment if he ends his career without ever winning the classic World Chess Championship title.
In Astana, Kazakhstan, the Russian player lost to China’s Ding Liren, despite Norwegian Magnus Carlsen outplaying him two years earlier to win his fifth world championship. This was an instance of Ian Nepomniachtchi wasting winning positions.Exhausted and devastated, the 32-year-old experienced a three-week roller-coaster that encompassed 14 classical games and a tie-breaker of four rapid games.
Almost two months since the match, the world No.4 likens his narrow defeat to a team losing a penalty shootout in football. “I don’t know much about cricket. But this could be compared to football, which I follow a lot,” Nepo said on Tuesday. “When you go to a penalty shootout, anything can happen. Being in my shoes, players should use at least one of the chances. I had enough opportunities, but this is sport. Even if you play better overall, it is sometimes still not enough to win and deliver when necessary.”
Days after the World Chess Championship match ended, Nepo entered the Superbet Classic in Bucharest — a tournament he would have ideally skipped but couldn’t. After a month-long break, he is now playing for Balan Alaskan Knights in the inaugural Global Chess League in Dubai.