World Chess Championship 2021 : Carlsen vs Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi will face the reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen at the Dubai Championship in November-December 2021

The 2021 World Chess Championship, originally scheduled for the second half of 2020, has been postponed and will take place from November 24 to December 16, 20211.

It will pit the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion, against the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi, winner of the Candidates' Tournament.

The Carlsen vs Nepomniachtchi match

Summary table of the match for the World Chess Championship Magnus Carlsen against Ian Nepomniachtchi

The Candidates' Tournament, which was scheduled to take place from March 15 to April 5, 2020 in Yekaterinburg, Russia2 , was interrupted after the first round (the first seven rounds) and the second round was postponed due to the Russian government's closure of air traffic to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, which would have prevented players from leaving Russia at the scheduled end of the Candidates' Tournament3 . The second round of the Candidates' Tournament took place from April 19 (Round 8) to April 27 (Round 14). Ian Nepomniachtchi won the tournament one round before the end4.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE), which has been organizing the World Championship in its current form since 2006, has increased the length of the championship from twelve games to fourteen games.

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Schedule and results

Wednesday 24 November : Opening ceremony

Thursday 25 November : Media day

Friday 26 November : Game 1

Saturday 27 November : Game 2

Sunday 28 November : Game 3

Monday 29 November : Rest day

Tuesday 30 November : Game 4

Wednesday 1 December : Game 5

Thursday 2 December : Rest day

Friday 3 December : Game 6

Saturday 4 December : Game 7

Sunday 5 December : Game 8

Monday 6 December : Rest day

Tuesday 7 December : Game 9

Wednesday 8 December : Game 10

Thursday 9 December : Rest day

Friday 10 December : Game 11

Saturday 11 December : Game 12

Sunday 12 December : Game 13

Monday 13 December : Rest day

Tuesday 14 December : Game 14

Wednesday 15 December : Tiebreak or closing ceremony

Thursday 16 December : Closing ceremony in case of a tiebreak

More informations on official website :

Candidate Tournament (2020-2021)

Selection of the candidates

The challenger is the winner of the Candidates' Tournament held in Yekaterinburg.


The Candidates' Tournament is a two-round tournament between eight players (14 rounds). All players meet twice, alternating colors, white and black. The pace of play follows a normal game: 100 min for the first 40 moves, 50 min for the next 20 moves and 15 min for the rest of the game. From the first move, 30 seconds are added to each move.

Each victory is worth one point, a draw half a point, none for a defeat, the score being the main criterion to determine the ranking. If there is a tie for points, other criteria apply, first the result between the tied players, otherwise the total number of wins (and therefore also of losses) prevails. If there is still a tie, the Sonneborn-Berger system is applied. If two players are still tied for first place, the tie-breaking games are played at a fast pace similar to the world championships: four fast games (25 minutes pace), if there is still a tie, four blitz games (five minutes pace) and, as a last resort, the armageddon.

The winner of the tournament is selected as the challenger against Magnus Carlsen.

Organization of the challenger tournament

Tournament site

Games are played at the Hyatt Regency Hotel with a rest period every third day of competition.

Candidate Tournament Schedule

Originally scheduled for March 16-April 5, 2020, the tournament was suspended after the first round (seven rounds) by the International Federation on March 26.

On February 15, 2021, FIDE announced that the Candidates Tournament would resume in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on April 18, 2021.

* Round 8 on April 19 ;

* rest days on April 22 and 25, after rounds 10 and 12;

* Round 14 on April 27 with a tiebreaker, if necessary, on April 28.8

Tournament Favorites

Two players emerged as favorites before the tournament began: Fabiano Caruana of the United States, who won the previous edition but failed to defeat Carlsen in the World Championship match, and Ding Liren of China, the world's third-ranked player in Elo.

The Covid-19 pandemic

In the beginning, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Federation decided to maintain the tournament, applying additional sanitary standards to ensure the smooth running of the tournament: spectators were not allowed, handshakes at the beginning and end of the game were not mandatory, and a medical team was present on site.9 Teimour Radjabov, explaining that he was worried about the risk of a pandemic, decided to withdraw from the tournament, leaving his place to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave10. After the fifth round, Aleksandr Grichtchouk said he "didn't want to play anymore, considering the situation".

Finally, the tournament is stopped on March 26, 2020 after the first half (first round).

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* Youtube : Ian Nepomniachtchi On Magnus Carlsen and The FIDE World Championship

World Chess Championship 2021 : Carlsen vs Nepomniachtchi

The 2021 World Chess Championship, originally scheduled for the second half of 2020, will finally take place from November 24 to December 16, 2021, during the Dubai Expo in the United Arab Emirates. It will oppose the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, titleholder, to the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi, winner of the candidate's tournament and challenger.

The format of the world championship game

14 games instead of 12

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) has increased the length of the world championship match to fourteen games from the previous twelve. "How many games would be in my favor? Two? Only time will tell. Then it will be possible to say, 'Yes, 14 games is hard' or 'Only 14 games? But I only had time to warm up. It would have taken 16. Objectively, 12 or 14 is more or less the same thing. Before there were unlimited games: up to six victories, like the first game between Karpov and Kasparov. Here, however, the number of games is limited. Of course, they have reduced the number of rest days a bit, while we all like to rest, but what to do? We are both in the same conditions." Ian Nepomniachtchi

The pace of play

The pace of play is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment per move from the 61st move. Players are not allowed to offer to split the point until Black's 40th move. The player who scores 7.5 points or more will be declared the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Champion.

Prize money

The total prize money is 2.000.000 €: 60% to the winner and 40% to the runner-up if the match ends within the 14 classic games. In case the world title is decided in the tie-break, the winner will receive 55% and the runner-up 45%.

Possible tiebreakers

In case of a tie after fourteen games, a tie-breaking match will take place in four quick games of 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If the score is still tied, another two-game match will be played, but in blitz at a rate of 5 minutes + 3 seconds per move. If the score is still tied, another two-part match at the same rate. This procedure can be repeated for a total of five two-game matches. If after these five games (ten games), the score is still tied, a "sudden death" game, also called Armageddon, will be used to break the tie. In this case, the leader of the white pieces will have five minutes; the leader of the black pieces only four minutes - with an increment of 2 seconds per move from the 61st move for both players - but the player with the black pieces will be declared the winner even in case of a draw.

Magnus Carlsen and FIDE

Magnus Carlsen has signed the contract with the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to play the World Championship in Dubai against Ian Nepomniachtchi only in September 2021. To the question: Why so late before reaching this agreement? The Norwegian replied, "There are always details to be resolved to finalize a contract." Before adding, "For me, it was important to be allowed to display my sponsor's logo during the match and close the issues related to previous matches, which the current FIDE - with whom we have a good relationship - inherited from the previous administration."

Ian Nepomniachtchi without an anthem or flag

On December 17, 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced Russia's exclusion from international competitions from four to two years. Following the accusation of institutionalized doping between 2011 and 2015, Russian athletes not convicted of doping are allowed to compete, but without an anthem or flag. As chess is one of the non-Olympic disciplines recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the sanctions issued by CAS apply until December 16, 2022.

Differences with the games in 2016 and 2018

"I hope that this time there will be fewer draws than the last few times, because I haven't led a World Classical Chess Championship match since 2014. The last two matches have been very close. I really hope there will be a little more back and forth, instead of a long drawn out battle like there has been the last few times. That's my hope and also my belief." Magnus Carlsen

Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen

Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen was born on November 30, 1990 in Tønsberg, Norway, the world No. 1 and reigning world champion. In 2013, he defeated India's Viswanathan Anand for the world title in a match he dominated, making him one of the youngest world chess champions in history. As of May 1, 2014, Carlsen's Elo rating stood at 2882 points, the highest in history. In November 2014, he victoriously defended his world championship title against Viswanathan Anand. He became the first player in history to capture all three world crowns when he won the World Fast Games and Blitz Championships in Dubai in June 2014. In November 2016, Magnus Carlsen faced the winner of the Candidates tournament, Sergei Karjakin, in New York. He won the match in tiebreakers (3 to 1) after tying the "classic" games match (6 to 6). In November 2018, Magnus Carlsen faces the winner of the Candidates tournament, Fabiano Caruana, in London. He won the match in tiebreaks: 6 points to 6 with 12 games drawn in classic cadence, then 3 points to 0 in fast games.

Ian Alexandrovich Nepomniachtchi

Ian Alexandrovich Nepomniachtchi was born on July 14, 1990 in Bryansk, Russia. European Champion and two-time Russian Champion. Nepomniachtchi learned to play chess at the age of 4 and a half. He has won the European Youth Championship three times: in 2000 in the under-10 category and in 2001 and 2002 in the under-12 category. In 2002, Nepomniachtchi also won the World Championship in the U12 category, beating Magnus Carlsen in the tie-breaker. In February 2008, he won the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, where he achieved 2822 Elo. In 2015, Nepomniachtchi won the Aeroflot Open for the second time, beating Daniil Dubov in a tie-break, as well as the blitz tournament associated with the open. At the end of the year, he won the Moscow Blitz Open. In July 2018, he won the Dortmund tournament, finishing one point ahead of his closest competitors. In April 2021, Nepomniachtchi won the Candidates Tournament by half a point over the runner-up, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

The assistants

Ian Nepomniachtchi has lost ten kilos and is training physically before the match.. There are also rumors that Magnus Carlsen's 2016 challenger Sergey Karjakin is part of Nepomniachtchi's second team. The rumors began to circulate after Karjakin posted a photo of himself in Dubai on Instagram. Nepomniachtchi's team manager Vladimir Potkin explained, "I helped Karjakin in the 2016 game. Now he in turn helps me to prepare Ian for the 2021 game."

"Objectively, Magnus is a favorite. He is World Champion, he has more tournament wins and a higher Elo, but in a new competition it doesn't matter what happened before [...] He also has flaws. When he doesn't like what's going on he can fall apart psychologically." Sergey Karjakin

At 39 years old, Vladimir Potkin knows the ruthlessness of a world championship. In 2016, he assisted Sergey Karjakin in his lost match against Carlsen in New York. Five years later, Vladimir Potkin's dream remains the same: to see his champion crowned with laurels and bring it back to Moscow!

"I have been working with Ian since 2007. His talent is exceptional and I thought he could become the best player in the world one day. I am very happy that he finally got a chance to play a World Championship match. He took his opportunity at the Candidates Tournament. Now he has every chance to win the title." Vladimir Potkin

Magnus Carlsen has been working with more or less the same team of assistants for years. This is the core group. Peter Heine Nielsen is the coordinator, and the Norwegian is helped by loyal players like Laurent Fressinet. He also likes to call on young talent, as he did with the Swede Nils Grandelius. It is very difficult to know in advance which players are in the teams, and sometimes we never know. One thing is for sure, his preparation will be up to par.

At 48, Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen is an ace at deciphering the findings of 21st century supercomputers. He has mastered their super-powered strength and understands their intricacies perhaps better than anyone else. This is also the result of experience: "I had assisted Anand three times against Kramnik, Gelfand and Topalov. Then I coached Magnus for his two matches against Vishy, and then against Karjakin and Caruana. This is my seventh world championship match."

They said... in Europe-Chess of November 2021

Naturally, Carlsen is the big favorite. Nevertheless, his last two games were not a smooth ride, especially against Karjakin. Nepomniachtchi will have a chance if he is the first to win a game and manages to gain a psychological advantage. A tie is unlikely in a 14-game match. Veselin Topalov

I think Carlsen is slightly favored, especially because of his experience. He is also more "clever". His nervous system is stronger, which is an important factor. If it was a long match, his chances would be even better. [...] It's true that Russia has been hoping for the title for a long time. I do not know if it will be an additional pressure for Nepomniachtchi. He should not think about it, because it could put him at a disadvantage." Anatoly Karpov

I think Carlsen will win because he has a more versatile playing style than Nepo. I also think that the tie-breaker in rapids favors him. Don't forget that he has been crowned world champion at all rates! Nepo can upset the odds if he can give him some real problems in the opening. This is one of the strengths of the Russian who always has very aggressive ideas. He likes the dynamic game. For Carlsen, the idea will probably be to get positions without risk. Maxime Lagarde

For me, Magnus is the favorite. Of course, it should come down to details, but Nepo is more prone to nervous breakdowns. Magnus' experience and his very good nervous system give him an advantage. The first few games will be crucial. Against Caruana, the game was very close, but we mustn't forget that Magnus should have won the first game with the Blacks. The scenario would have been very different. If Nepo manages to survive in the beginning, Magnus can start to have doubts. Unlike his last two title defenses, he doesn't have a huge advantage over his rival in fast paces. Matthieu Cornette

For me, Nepo will be a surprise! I feel that Carlsen is not taking this match seriously. He doesn't stop playing and will have barely four weeks of training. I also feel that the world champion has been playing less well for some time. He is slowly getting caught up with the others. Nepo has had a serious attitude. He has turned down a lot of tournaments, probably with the help of his very professional support team. He has become very strong, and he plays very fast and is always very confident. If he puts aside his usual openings, the Grünfeld and Najdorf, to play other systems better suited to this match, I see him winning. Igor-Alexandre Nataf

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