After a tough year Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi scored a triumph in the London Chess Classic, finishing tied for first and sharing the prize money with Fabiano Caruana before missing out on the trophy in the playoff. He gave an interview afterwards where he talked about the tournament, why Magnus Carlsen has stopped dominating in the way he used to and why he’s not as impressed with AlphaZero as some of his colleagues.
Ian Nepomniachtchi: I really did lie down to sleep, but I didn’t particularly manage. Therefore I switched on the Caruana-Adams game on my phone. White was better, but then they began to repeat moves, and at first I was delighted as a draw in that game suited me. For some reason, though, Adams decided not to repeat moves and played on.
We all saw what came next. Caruana beat Adams and then won the blitz. Nevertheless, second place in such strong company is an excellent result.
Of course when I assessed my chances before the tournament I realised that it was possible to play well, but fighting for first place couldn’t be taken for granted, to put it mildly. Of course everything went well in terms of the outcome, though you always want more, particularly in this case. Plus, I have a very good blitz score against Caruana.
You say you weren’t counting on first place, but until the end of the Caruana-Adams game you occupied it. How did you manage that?
From the very start there were an awful lot of draws, and up to some point in the tournament only Caruana was winning. Then I was a little lucky against Adams, who I won an almost drawn endgame against. Actually Caruana also then got lucky against Adams.
Let’s leave Adams aside. In London he appeared in the role of a points donor, but your record includes wins over Anand and Carlsen.
The game against Anand ended up being a good one. Against Carlsen – well, I didn’t want to lose after two wins, though if you analyse the game you can find a lot of mistakes from both sides. It’s simply that he blundered last. To be fair, Magnus had a bad cold during the second half of the tournament and therefore wasn’t in his very best form.
- Full interview with Ian Nepomniachtchi at sports.ru (in Russian)
- Full interview with Daniil Dubov at sports.ru (in Russian)
- All the games from the 2017 London Chess Classic