2021 World Chess Championship (Carlsen vs. Nepomniachtchi)

 

2021 World Chess Championship

Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)

NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia 

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) - 2021 World Chess Championship
 
12
13
14
pts.
Carlsen
½
½
½
½
½
1
½
1
1
½
1
Caruana
½
½
½
½
½
0
½
0
0
½
0
Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

Dear Chess Fans!

Here we go! The world championship will begin today and the chess world has been waiting with bated breath for this matchup. World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway will take on Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia for the World Chess Championship being held in Dubai, UAE. With the combination of the Candidates and the World Championship being postponed, we are now three years since Carlsen met Fabiano Caruana in London.

This match will prove to have a different angle. The challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi has a 4-1 classical advantage over Carlsen with the champion winning only in 2017. Despite Carlsen saying in a Norwegian podcast that either Caruana or Ding Liren would have been a tougher matchup, many will agree that Nepomniachtchi will pose a significant challenge.

 

2021 World Chess Championship (Dubai, UAE)
2021 World Chess Championship (Dubai, UAE)
2021 World Chess Championship (Dubai, UAE)
First Press Conference
Photo by Eric Rosen

 

Although two of his wins over Carlsen were in under-12 and under-14, “Nepo” has proven to be a tough matchup. In the preview to the match, former World Champion Viswanathan Anand noted their “incompatible” styles and that theme has been repeated by many players. Nevertheless, hardly anyone polled in chess.com’s survey chose definitively Nepomniachtchi to win. My prediction… Carlsen +2!


“No, my biggest advantage is that I am better at chess.”
~ Magnus Carlsen when asked by GM Jon Tisdall if his match experience
was a huge advantage
 


The drawing of colors took place at the Opening Ceremony and Carlsen will play black in the first game. The colors will alternate throughout unlike in the 12-game matches. Otherwise, one Nepomniachtchi will have eight whites and six blacks. The time control is 40 moves to play in 120 minutes, followed by 20 moves played in 60 minutes, if no decisive result, the rest of the game will be decided in 15 minutes.

Each move will gain an increment of 30 seconds per move at move 61. The match will last 14 games with the winner scoring 7.5 points. In the event of a 7-7 tie, there will be four 25-minute games to determine the winner. If the rapid games do not determine a winner, then up to five blitz mini-matches will be played until a winner is determined.

 

 

If the match is still drawn, one sudden-death “Armageddon” game will be played. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes. The player with white must win the game to win the match. The closing ceremony is on the 15th if no tiebreak, and on the 16th if a tiebreak is needed.

The Chess Drum will be providing daily reports and compile the best possible collection of content on the match. The reports will single-round posts, but each of the round reports can be viewed below in one long stream.

Enjoy!

Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum


 

Opening Press Conference
Video by Joe Kempsey

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

43 Comments

  1. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 1
    Match Score: ½-½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 1
    Friday, 26 November 2021

    Intense beginnings, but Carlsen holds

    The first game of the 2021 World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi began with much fanfare with commentators bubbling with excitement. GM Judit Polgar (chess24) talked about the Expo vendors while FM Mike Klein (chess.com) was wondering if Carlsen would turn his knights when he adjusted the pieces. There was Jonathan Corblahh who was giving trivia questions and history lessons. However, the main show was the main focus.

    The chess24 team had previous challenger Fabiano Caruana giving commentary with IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess hosting in a relaxed type of format. It was an interesting switch from the “Sportscenter” type of format that other chess broadcasts have. Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand was giving commentary for FIDE and left a very insightful comment.

    The game started 1.e4 e5 and the game entered a very tense Ruy Lopez. It was a game where precision was at a premium and also showed how deep preparation is at the highest levels. Nepomniachtchi team, led by Vladimir Potkin, showed quite a bit of steadiness as this game can be considered a success as far as first games go.

    Nepo gave not an inch to the champion and showed that his 4-1 advantage is no fluke. There were some subtleties such as Nepo’s 14.Kf1! showing a keen eye. His 30.Ne1 got its share of critics…

    …but returning the pawn after Carlsen’s 33…b4! was the right decision. Good start for Nepo. For Carlsen, he stated in the press conference that a draw was OK, but he was out-prepared today.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by Maurice Ashley/NBC Sports

  2. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 2
    Match Score: 1-1
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 2
    Saturday, 27 November 2021

    Game almost a Knightmare… but another draw!

    The 2021 World Chess Championship match has gotten off to an exciting start with neither player “feeling out” the other. Yesterday saw tremendous preparation and a game treading on a razor’s edge. Today’s encounter was interesting and a unique theme saw both players getting knights entrenched in the opponent’s camp. Both knights had to be eliminated with an exchange sacrifice showing how delicate the position was throughout. Nevertheless, another draw was reached.

    That brings us to the most amazing tweet…

    The game started as a Catalan with a few wrinkles. Carlsen played 8.Ne5 when only 15 games are found in the database. Generally, 8.a4 is the common move. After 13…Nd3 black’s steed takes up residence. Hou Yifan was a guest on chess24 and stopped in midstream to assess the position after 17.Ne5!

    Carlsen sacrificed an exchange to get his own steed on the dominant d6-square after 19. Nd6! Then Nepo started a sequence that saw 24…c3. Watch David Howell’s reaction…

    Nepo stated that 24.Be4! took him by surprise, so he wanted to offer a surprise of his own. If the idea of 24…c3 was to get a passed pawn, then it may have been a bit ambitious. Meanwhile, white switched operations to the kingside and started making threats, the knight still dominant on d6.

    After relentless pressure by Carlsen, Nepo decided he had enough of the intrusive knight and sacrificed back the exchange with 37…Rxd6. It resulted in a completely drawn 3+2 rook ending. Both players were clearly exhausted. Yesterday, Nepo was asked by FM Mike Klein about his workout regimen. It is clear that after two games, both will need to be in excellent physical form. Tomorrow is the last game before a rest day.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by Maurice Ashley/NBC Sports

  3. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 3
    Match Score: 1½-1½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 3
    Sunday, 28 November 2021

    “Perfect Game”… but for both players.
    Draw streak continues!

    Magnus Carlsen
    Photo Eric Rosen/FIDE

    The press conference of the World Chess Championships addressed a comment about the World Championships going five years without a decisive result. Magnus Carlsen hinted that future matches should feature various formats. Ian Nepomniachtchi explained that the games were of higher quality and thus, fewer errors. Matches are still the gold standard for chess, but how does one explain draw to the public? Even for those who are well-information about chess, they may take a string of draws as boring.

    Game 3 wasn’t exactly a snooze fest, but it was a battle of preparation and both teams showed they were working hard in trying to glide on a razor’s edge. Black’s 10…Re8 has not fared well at the elite level, but perhaps Carlsen had a wrinkle.

    There was no wrinkle and Carlsen was actually dismissive. He was far more insightful in the press conference when talking about activities for the rest, doping, NBA basketball and his last answer during Q&A. If you didn’t see, check out the broadcast.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE Chess

  4. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 4
    Match Score: 2-2
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 4
    Tuesday, 30 November 2021

    Another draw, but tense moments in tough struggle
    Draw streak continues!

    Before today’s game, everyone was getting their last posts about Magnus Carlsen’s 31st birthday. It seemed like a few years ago that we saw a 13-year old Carlsen taking on an amazed Garry Kasparov. Now almost two decades later, Carlsen is the sitting World Champion defending his title for the fourth time. This time his opponent is Ian Nepomniachtchi who is also 31. Time has flown!

    Today’s game was the shortest thus far. A 33-move Petroff may appear to be a dull affair if you didn’t watch the broadcast. There were some interesting patterns shown by the commentating teams as each tried to breathe some life into the position with creative attempts.

    Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi broadcasts

    Interestingly enough, each commentary team was coming up with similar lines, but it was Viswanathan Anand who was the best calculator. Yesterday, ChessBase India interviewed Anand and he gave his opinion on the downsides of using an engine when analyzing a game. Here is what he had to say. Wait for it…

    Video by Sagar Shah/ChessBase India

    What was so instructive was the tactical possibilities with so few pieces on the board. White had a menacing threat on the black king with possible mating patterns that were beautiful but highly unlikely with such a strong player. Nevertheless, the analysis showed the incredible attacking power of the rook and knight.

    There was even a line where black would queen the a-pawn and white would get a perpetual check with the rook on the d7 and the knight checking on f6 and h7. During the chess24 broadcast, IM Danny Rensch was asking for a term to describe the checking maneuver and a fan came up with “pendulum”!

    Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, there were no missteps, and the two players sued for peace on move 33. What will be the next opening in Game 5? Will it be a Sicilian? A Petroff? Another Ruy Lopez? One thing for sure… if there is another draw, FIDE will most likely come up with an alternative format for the future that may include rapid and blitz. In what other way can we determine the best player overall? That may be an ongoing discussion for this match.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by chess.com

    Video by Maurice Ashley/NBC Sports

  5. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 5
    Match Score: 2½-2½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

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    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 5
    Wednesday, 1 December 2021

    A fifth draw… the jokes and memes start to roll in

    When Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri went on a run of draws in elite chess, some people started to call him an artist because artists “like to draw.” It was another Dutch Grandmaster Peter Leko before him. After five years the draw joke is becoming more prevalent in world chess championship play. Yesterday, fans hurled jokes at the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi for their fifth consecutive draw.

    These games are not without content as Nepo proved that his team has prepared him well. In another Anti-Marshall system, Carlsen played d5 anyway. Throughout the game, commentators were critical of Carlsen’s play including his bishop on d6, and a jumbled mess of pieces. White maintained a solid edge throughout, but black hunkered down waiting.

    The mood of Magnus Carlsen in Game 5.
    Photo by Niki Riga/FIDE

    Nepo was playing his moves very quickly while fans noted how uncomfortable Carlsen appeared in his body posture. The Russian had a vice grip on the position, but some question his 20.Red1 instead of the more energetic 20.c4. The idea is simple… push the pawn to constrict black even further. Black would be obligated to play 20…c5 in order to present the onslaught. Sagar Shah of ChessBase India weighs in…

    In the above position Ian played Red1 after which Magnus responded with Be6, Black had very nearly equalized the game. Red1?! was just too soft. Ian should have played c4. The idea is clear. You want to play c5. And the most natural move to stop it, ..Be6 is met with Ba4 attacking the queen and c5 coming up anyway. It seems very difficult to understand how Magnus Carlsen would have continued in the position after 20.c4. Playing …c5 definitely looks like a concession, especially because the bishop can pop out on a4, move to c6 and then stand on d5 like a powerhouse. But it might well be that 20…c5 is the least of evils for Black in the position. Another option after 20.c4 is to play Bb4. But after Reb1, once again the threat is to trap the bishop with c5. So if Black himself goes …c5, the ideas are similar with Ba4! and then getting the bishop to c6 and eventually to d5. After some deep digging, it feels to me that Magnus might have chosen 20…Qe6 after 20.c4. Now 21.c5 is not possible, but White can go Ba4, threatening c5 and if Black goes c5 himself then Bc6 to d5 is once again very strong. All in all this idea of c4-c5, and if Black goes …c5 then Ba4-c6-d5 gives White a very tangible plus.

    OK… so that was a mouthful, but it turns out that it may have been the key moment for a lasting advantage. Nepo was very despondent in the press conference while Carlsen admitted that he had dodged a bullet. He stated that he was a bit worse, but after 20.Red1 he thought “the worst was over.” He also stated that he lacked activity throughout. Game six will be played after the second rest day.

    Video by FIDE

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by chess.com

  6. Orrin Hudson in Dubai for World Championship

    FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich & Orrin Hudson @ FIDE World Chess Championships in Dubai UAE. Photo courtesy of Orrin Hudson

    Orrin Hudson of Besomeone, Inc. has been known for his energetic methods in presenting chess as a means of learning critical life skills. Hudson is also a world traveler and most recently visited the FIDE World Chess Championship currently being held in Dubai, UAE. He was in the Philippines and also in Chennai, India when Magnus Carlsen wrested the title from Viswanathan Anand.

    In Dubai, Hudson took in the festivities for a week and is scheduled to return on the 8th until the end of the match. He told The Chess Drum he wanted people to know he was still forging ahead with his mission.

    It is obviously more impactful to be present during such an event and with the Dubai EXPO and 192 countries showcasing their countries, it is a big opportunity. Hudson states that he desires to “look, listen and learn.” He leaves an adage that has been said so many times and in so many different ways.

    “Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want want to feel… people whose positive energies are contagious. Remember, success leaves clues. Capture them. Use them.”

    ~ Orrin Checkmate Hudson

    # # #

    Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson is an award-winning author and master motivational speaker who has inspired many to “make the right move” and solve problems peacefully. He has taught many groups at churches, schools, organizations, and corporations. For more details, visit http://www.besomeone.org or call (770) 465-6445.

    Orrin Checkmate Hudson, Speaker & Master Strategist & Motivator
    949 Stephenson Road
    Stone Mountain , GA
    30087, Tel: 770-465-6445
    E-mail: Orrin@besomeone.org
    Website: http://www.besomeone.org

  7. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 6
    Match Score: 3½-2½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    glyph

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 6
    Friday, 3 December 2021

    Titanic struggle… breaks drought… set records

    After today’s game, no one will complain about the level of chess being played in this world championship match. It was an absolute thriller as both players walked a tightrope to avoid pitfalls. The onus was essentially on Magnus Carlsen to prove that his offbeat opening could yield dividends. It took a record-breaking 136 moves, but the World Champion reeled in the full point against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi. Instead of discussing the game in detail, we will go to the press conference to get the reaction.

    Video by FIDE

    Other records mentioned were that the game was won over a two-day period. The game ended past midnight for a total of 7 hours and 47 minutes, another time record. There were other championship facts given mentioned such as the previous six world championship matches starting with six draws. This match also started with five draws, but Carlsen broke the streak. There had not been a decisive game in a World Championship match for five years.

    This begs the question… would we have gotten such a gift to history in another format? Could such a masterpiece be played in rapid or blitz? It’s highly unlikely. Do we want to see more errors to obtain decisive results? That would be unfortunate. In addition, the fans would not have benefited from an unfolding tale of two wills grappling with the twists and turns of battle. It was like a dramatic play over eight hours.

    Carlsen explaining the moment during the press conference. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maurice Ashley at the dais. Photo by Niki Riga/FIDE

    Carlsen explained the tense moments during the press conference.
    Photo by Niki Riga/FIDE

    After the fifth consecutive draw, Carlsen was asked about the string of draws in championship play. He remarked that while draws can seem to be an annoyance, we have not crossed the rubicon where something drastic must be done. Of course, classical chess should remain a permanent fixture in World Championship and Game 6 is the reason why. Should rapid, blitz, and Chess 960 be part of the match? It is an interesting debate.

    The game has many lessons and appeared to be several games into one. There was so much tension, but there is a lesson to be learned here. Even elite players commentating can miss ideas. Notice this moment when Fabiano Caruana and Danny Rensch suggest 80.Rg5+ as an only move just before Carlsen uncorked 80.Rxf7+!

    After 80.Rxf7+! Kxf7 81.Rb7+ Kg6 82.Rxa7, the masterclass had begun… two pieces and two pawns versus a queen. The engines kept saying the game was 0.00 equal, but as the pawns started to march forward, it became more difficult to maintain accuracy. Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri gives commentary on this game that will go down in the ages as a masterpiece.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE

    Video by chess.com

  8. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 7
    Match Score: 4-3
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    glyph

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 7
    Saturday, 4 December 2021

    After epic battle, players settle for quiet draw

    Magnus Carlsen

    The most exciting part about Game 7 came from the above photo by IM Eric Rosen. It’s probably how Nepo saw Carlsen after starting their second game of the day. Last night’s epic battle, finished at 12:17am after nearly eight hours of play.

    In the press conference, there were questions about the fatigue factor, but neither player seem to use that as a reason for the quick draw. The game was rather uneventful after another Marshall, the fourth. The game had no complications and was drawn quickly.

    Game #7 (Annotations by GM Anish Giri for ChessBase)

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE

    Video by David Howell/chess24

  9. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 8
    Match Score: 5-3
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    glyph

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 8
    Sunday, 5 December 2021

    Carlsen strikes again… Nepomniachtchi at the brink

    There was a debate on how quickly Ian Nepomniachtchi would attempt to strike back after the devastating loss in Game 6. After a rather tranquil draw in Game 7 of the World Chess Championship in Dubai, the next game was a Petroff with a twist. Nepo’s …h5, …Rh6 maneuver seemed like a kamikaze attack brewing, but it turned out to be a “nothing burger.” At the least, the game would end in another quiet draw.

    Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (after 14.Rh6)

    Magnus Carlsen talked about his willingness to trade down after 10…Qe7, but the Russian went for 10…Kf8 in order to keep the tension. After 11.Bb4! now white was fighting to keep an edge after 11…Qe7 12.Bxd6 Qxd6. With black’s rooks now disconnected, white seized on the clumsiness of 14…Rh6 with 15.Qg5! Now the rook could not leave the h5-pawn and on 15…f6, the rook’s scope would be limited.

    Carlsen continued to probe then finally broke with 20.c4! The exclamation point is for the fact that this was a timely transition of a somewhat closed game into one with immediate tactical possibilities. Almost immediately Nepo failed to make the transition. After 20…dxc4 21.Bxd4, Nepo belted out 21…b5?? Fans and commentators spotted it quickly.

    Carlsen continued 22.Qa3+ Kg8 23.Qxa7 white attack the bishop on d7. Black could donate the bishop with 22…Bxh3, but after 23.Qxf7+ the queens come off after 23…Qxf7 24.Re8+ Kh7 25.Bxf7 and black is significantly worse. Black opted for 23…Qd8, but after 25.Re4 the pieces are overloaded.

    Nepo was forced to trade down to free his position and it resulted in a queen ending with a wretched pawn structure. The queen would be overloaded in defending the pawns so he looked to harass the white king. Carlsen gobbled a couple of more pawns, centralized the queen and without any drawing tricks, Nepo resigned on move 46. To his credit, Nepo was very gracious in the press conference.

    Video by FIDE

    Game #8 (Annotations by GM Anish Giri for ChessBase)

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE

    Video by chess.com

  10. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 9
    Match Score: 5-3
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    glyph

    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 9
    Tuesday, 7 December 2021

    Nepo blunders piece… Carlsen has a 3-point bulge

    Score after Game 9... Carlsen 6, Nepomniachtchi 3

    Chess can be brutal at times. There is nothing that crushes the soul more than losing a completely winning position. Perhaps the second is making a simple blunder. There were not too many who were not sympathetic to Ian Nepomniachtchi after today’s game that featured a terrible blunder.

    This was after he also blundered a pawn yesterday. His blunder will go down as one of the most careless in recent times and harkens back to Bobby’s Fischer famous Bxh2 blunder getting his own bishop trapped. The loss gives defending champion Magnus Carlsen a three-point lead with five games remaining.

    Nepo came to the board with a new hairstyle minus the “man-bun” and actually looked very sharp and relaxed. Both players settled into their chairs for the ninth game and GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa made the ceremonial move of 1.c4. Interestingly enough, Nepo kept the move!

    After the game, Carlsen didn’t know whether the Indian prodigy had a sense of foreboding that Nepo would try something new or that he was providing inspiration. Either way, Nepo kept the move and the game began.

    Rameshbabu_Praggnanandhaa.jpeg

    Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa making the first move for Ian Nepomniachtchi.
    Photo by Maria Emelianova/chess.com

    As the game entered the opening phase, Nepo’s 9.e3 gave the appearance of a Reversed Benoni. He ended up getting good play. Fast forward to 23…Ng4! Carlsen figured that he wanted to reroute the knight, but missed 24.Qe1! White threatens f3 and black must trade queens. On 25…h5 Carlsen was looking to place the knight on f5. Then disaster struck Nepo. After five minutes of thought, Nepo banged out 27.c5?? and left the room. Carlsen had an incredulous look of disbelief.

    So what gives? Nepo may have had a blindspot thinking that he could simply play Nc5 to protect the bishop, but the square was now occupied by the pawn. After 10 minutes Nepo came back to the board, looked off, looked into the camera, and then came to the realization that he had blundered badly. After the game, he admitted that he missed 27…c6. Carlsen made some interesting comments after a question about the method of winning by FM Mike Klein (chess.com).

    In the standings, they look the same, but I think that goes for everybody, that earning a victory through really hard work is more rewarding than getting one handed to you by your opponent.

    He then cited Jan Hein Donner who stated that winning a game through a swindle is more gratifying than an attacking game. What is clear is that a win is a win, but a loss is not a loss. Losing a game with an inexplicable blunder two games in a row means something has gone gravely wrong. It is a lot harder to figure out why one is blundering material than “winning ugly.”

    Some commentators have noticed how much Nepo gets up from the board after he moves. Is this habit detrimental to his focus? Perhaps not, but he took only five minutes before making the fatal error in the game. The Russian’s post-game demeanor has been impeccable as he has been calm, compliant, and never ruffled with questions even after a tough loss.

    Game #9 (Annotations by ChessBase)

    Video by FIDE

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Video by FIDE

    Video by Fabiano Caruana/chess.com

  11. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 10
    Match Score: 6½-3½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

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    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 10
    Wednesday, 8 December 2021

    A quiet draw today after three wins in four games. In the last phase of the match, we hope to see attempts by Ian Nepomniachtchi to get on the scoreboard. There is a lot that can be said about this match and much will be written in the coming months. One of the narratives is that the World Champion Magnus Carlsen has played in a very stable manner. In fact, Fabiano Caruana made mention of this in the chess.com broadcast. The ability to maintain a sense of evenness in play seems to be his secret to success. Europe-Echecs gave an astounding stat.

    Even if you don’t read French you will understand the graphics. It shows a very erratic Nepo after Game 5 and as the infographic suggests, you have to play with supreme precision. With four games left, Nepomniachtchi is back on track playing a rather insipid draw with the Petroff. Some commentators have been critical that he has not trotted out a more challenging opening with only a few games left in the match. This game would be over in 41 moves, one past the minimum limit.

    Videos by FIDE

    Video by GM Daniel King

  12. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
    Game 11
    Match Score: 7½-3½
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

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    2021 World Chess Championship: Game 11
    Friday, 10 December 2021

    Magnus Carlsen retains title
    closes match on winning note!

    No one would have predicted such an outcome of the world championship match after the first five games. In fact, The Chess Drum arrived 2:30am on Friday morning to witness what would be the last game of the match. Many thought the match would go the distance. However, as Viswanthan Anand stated after today’s game, finished about 5-6 days early. As it were, Magnus Carlsen won his fifth title in Dubai with a dominant performance over Ian Nepomniachtchi.

    So why the epic collapse? One can only guess why the second half of the match was so disastrous for Nepo? There were memes of “Finding Nepo” because the player that won the Candidates tournament seemed to be missing. Here are insightful comments of Viswanathan Anand before Game 11.

    Video by ChessBase India

    So… here we go. Nepo started with the Italian Game or “Guioco Piano” for a change of pace. After 14.Qb3 it appeared the game was fairly tame but after 18.Nhg4 Nxg4 19.hxg4 d5 20.d4 the pace quickened. Carlsen made a couple of provocative rook moves and after 22…Rf4, Nepo spent nine minutes and responded with 23.g3?? Here was Hikaru Nakamura’s reaction.

    There were gasps in the commentary room and many stated this was another in the raft of blunders. Nepo had completely become unhinged. There was a post done about the time spent thinking.

    The point here is that Nepo spent a lot of time away from the board and seemed to be playing very quickly. Had he already checked out? The first loss in Game 6 was devastating, but a well-played and historic game. After that, it seems he lost his pace. To lose 3/4 games at this level is highly improbable.

    The game went into a rook and pawn ending with Carlsen nursing a strong h-pawn down the board. Nepo had run his king all the way to the queenside to gobble pawns while pushing his own a-pawn, but a cute deflection 44…Rb3+ gave black a new queen after 45.Rxb3 h1(Q). After that Nepo could not coordinate his rook and king to advance the pawn and he resigned a few moves later.

    Video by GM Daniel King

    Videos by FIDE

    Video by chess.com

  13. 2021 World Chess Championship
    Dubai, UAE (November 24th-December 16th)
    NorwayRussiaNorwayRussiaNorwayRussia

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) - 2021 World Chess Championship
     
    12
    13
    14
    pts.
    Carlsen
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½
    1
    1
    ½
    1
    Caruana
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    ½
    0
    0
    ½
    0
    Official Site: https://fideworldchampionship.com/

    Magnus Carlsen retains title, winning 7.5-3.5!

    On Friday, December 10th, Magnus Carlsen successfully defended his title for the fourth time in Dubai, UAE since first winning in Chennai, India in 2013 over Viswanathan Anand. They would have a return match a year later and it would be the first successful defense for Carlsen. This match would be his fourth and he defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in dominant fashion 7½-3½.

    Carlsen celebrating his first championship after defeating Viswanathan Anand in 2013. Photo by Magnus Carlsen (Facebook)

    This match was highly anticipated because the Russian had a plus score despite losing their last encounter. If there was anything to grasp onto in the match, Game 6 will go down in history as one of the most intriguing games scoring a record of 136 moves. From that point on, Nepo seemed to lose the thread on the match. Something rattled him psychologically or perhaps the eight-hour chess game disoriented him a bit. Nevertheless, he simply collapsed.


    After the decisive Game 6, then there was a sense of relief from five years of draws. However, it was famine followed by a feast as dec isive results came quickly. It wasn’t the quantity of decisive results that bothered the chess community, but the quality.


    Before the match, there were predictions being made with most of them in favor of Carlsen. However, there were a few people who chose Nepo and others who thought he would be a serious threat. Carlsen gave his opinion that both Fabiano Caruana or Ding Liren would’ve posed a tougher challenge. The reason was that they were a lot more stable. The way it has been put is that Nepo is a consensus 2780-2800 player, but his stability is not the same as the two players mentioned. Carlsen spoke on a Norwegian podcast about this issue.

    In Norway Chess he seemed very strong for the first 3-4 rounds, he had a small setback, and then he collapsed. That’s not something he can allow himself in a World Championship match. I am not going to fall even if I am hit in the face once. Perhaps that will be his biggest challenge, to handle the setbacks that will come, regardless of whether it’s a good position he fails to convert, or a game that he should have held to a draw but ends up losing, or opening preparation that goes wrong — that will be a huge challenge for him.

    It proved that Carlsen’s thesis was correct. After five draws, there were comments about how chess could not tolerate another championship where the classical portion featured all draws. After the decisive Game 6, then there was a sense of relief from five years of draws. However, it was famine followed by a feast as decisive results came quickly. It wasn’t the quantity of decisive results that bothered the chess community, but the quality. On one hand, draws are not desirable and on the other, decisive results by blunders are not ideal.

    Did Nepo check out after the grueling Game 6? He suffered tremendous lapses in attention and frequently got up from the board. Although gracious in defeat, he will have to reboot if he wants to return to the big stage. Photo by Maria Emelianova

    For games 8 and 9, the nature of the match shifted sharply. The issue now is whether Nepo could salvage a game from the match. After going down 2-0 Sergey Karjakin was sent to Dubai to assist Nepo. Later there was controversy that Daniil Dubov was working on the Carlsen team, a fact that created a stir among the Russian Federation. Dubov has since responded.


    It may very well be that the Game 6 eight-hour marathon exhausted Nepo’s physical and mental resources.


    After two disastrous games, Nepo settled down and drew an uneventful game 10 with plans to push in the last four. However, the match result was already a foregone conclusion. Down three games with only four remaining, the hope was to win a couple of games to pull the match into respectability. Even that attempt went awry. In the last game, Nepo prepared well in the opening, but had another blindspot after playing 23.g3?? His house came crashing down and in a flash had a completely losing ending which Carlsen converted with precision.

    Magnus Carlsen after winning
    the 2021 World Chess Championship.
    Photo by Maria Emelianova

    In the final press conference, Nepo was again very composed, but one may ask if he was a bit too nonchalant and “happy to be here.” Should he have been more upset? It may very well be that eight-hour the Game 6 marathon exhausted Nepo’s physical and mental resources. Those who have taken eight-hour exams, as this writer has (three in one week), will know that you need several days to recover or risk unraveling mentally.

    Yet, what we will remember from this match is Nepo’s gracious posture in the press conferences, a conflicting reality. Nevertheless, Carlsen was clearly the better player and deserved to win. Chants of the “GOAT” or the greatest of all time were made afterward. While I believe those are conversations for a later time, Carlsen has certainly made his mark.

  14. Chess at Expo 2020 Dubai

    2021 World Chess Championship (Dubai, UAE)

    FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich making the first move in the World Chess Championship between defending champion Magnus Carlsen (left) and challenger Ian Nepomniacthchi. Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    The 2021 World Chess Championship took part as one of the features of the 2020 World Expo taking place in Dubai, UAE. Magnus Carlsen defended his title for the 4th time winning in dominant fashion over Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi by 7.5-3.5. While the match was over in a couple of weeks, the World Expo started in October 2021 and will end March 31st, 2022. The six-month festival features 192 country pavilions and many organizations touting various initiatives such as sustainability, mobility, and opportunity.

    Chess was featured prominently at Expo 2020. This is the Spanish chess pavilion where the chess broadcasts took place. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    One of the attractions for me attending the World Chess Championship was the Expo and all that it represents. Teaching my students to think globally is one thing, but actually being a global citizen is another matter. It takes time to build up a travel portfolio and develop a comfort to interact with cultures so different from what you’re accustomed to. However, the experience is rewarding on so many levels.

    As far as chess is concerned, it was on display at the Expo and included an exhibition at the al-Wasl Plaza on the center stage. Former women’s champion Nona Gaprindashvili and two-time challenger Nana Ioseliani played a game that was projected onto the massive dome structure overhead. In addition, to video imagery of the players, there was creative chess animation. Nice touch!

    Nona Gaprindashvili playing Nana Ioseliani in an exhibit
    as part of “Chess Day” festivities.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    Nona Gaprindashvili greeted Judit Polgar after the exhibition.

    The exhibition of two legendary Georgian champions was a pleasant surprise for me because I happened to be leaving the Expo for the evening. The first thing I saw was Gaprindashvili overheard. I then heard chess commentary and moved quickly to see what was happening. I later see an entire audience watching the game and I was impressed at the level of interest.

    Perhaps it was a “Queen’s Gambit” effect, but the visual appeal was certainly there. It should not go unnoticed that Gaprindashvili actually filed a lawsuit against the series because it implied that she did not compete against men. The case was ultimately dismissed.

    While I didn’t see much of the game, I listened to the commentary and several people asked me the names of the players and other details. It was quite a scene. Ioseliani won the game and afterward, there were gifts presented and then photo-op including Judit Polgar, who did commentary for the match. Maria Emelianova was capturing the event with her usual professional touch. It was a night that the world noticed chess once again.


    “We are here in a very special place, where Expo 2020 Dubai is treating chess in a wonderful way, and I thank the Spain Pavilion for hosting the tournament.”

    ~GM Judit Polgar


    Levon Aronian honored at the Armenian pavilion as a national hero

    Levon Aronian
    Armenia Armenia Armenia

    Antoaneta Stefanova honored at the Bulgarian pavilion as a national hero

    Antoaneta Stefanova
    Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgaria

    As I visited country pavilions, many offered that they heard about the world chess championship match. For some pavilions, chess was an integral part. Both Levon Aronian and Antoaneta Stefanova were honored at the Armenian and Bulgarian pavilions. Spain hosted a broadcast from the pavilion and had a giant chess set in the front of the pavilion along with videos on chess history after Moorish rule.

    The pavilion hosted the World School Chess Tournament during the match featuring 108 players from 10 countries. Both 16-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and 15-year-old Dommaraju Gukesh were high-profile participants. There were also a number of chess celebrity visitors to the Spanish pavilion.

    Video by ChessBase India

    Surprisingly there were other pavilions that had chess sets in their pavilion including Zimbabwe, Mongolia, and Mauretania. The latter country had unique versions of “chess” that looked nothing like the chess we know.

    Zimbabwe

    This Mongolian set was from an empire 3000 years ago hand-crafted with marble, redwood, silver, and gold. This work of art took two years to make.

    Video by Expo 2020 Dubai

    There is always the question of the origins of chess. For the most part, the chess community is in agreement that India was the genesis, but of course, there were many variants. One unique form of chess was seen at the Mauretanian pavilion alongside the popular African game “Warri”.

    I could not get any details on this West African version, but it appears to be more of a wargame with immediate hand-to-hand combat. Many of the strategy games seen in Africa were categorically called “chess” despite having no relationship with the game we have come to know. In Mauretania, they even have specific games for men and women.

    Mauretanian Chess

    Chess for Men (Mauretania)

    Mauretanian Chess

    Chess for Women (Mauretania)

    Indeed chess was a major fixture in Expo 2020. The chess match received generous coverage and it was part of an overall theme of connecting people. The issue of chess reaching millions has accelerated due to technology and has even ignited debates on parliament floors. Let us hope that chess will not disappear from the Expo. There are still four months remaining to use the event as a platform!

  15. Reflections of 2021 World Championship/EXPO 2020

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

    Following are my reflections on the World Chess Championship that took place in Dubai, UAE. For years I have been doing reflection pieces for major events. It is enjoyable to go back and relive these memories. What makes this more special was that it occurred during World Expo 2020. I will also include my impressions of the EXPO since I only saw one game of the match. Prior to that, I was enjoying the broadcasts, press conferences, and recaps. It was a smorgasbord of chess.

    @ Dubai Exhibition Center in the Press Room
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Attending a World Championship is certainly a thrill and this would be my second (2016 Carlsen-Karjakin), but my first overseas. My decision to attend the match in Dubai was greatly influenced by World Expo 2020 being held concurrently. In fact, chess got a lot of exposure during the Expo including in the main plaza with Nona Gaprindashvili and Nana Ioseliani playing an exhibition game.

    Spain had chess as an important part of their pavilion and even hosted a tournament! Overall I visited 89 country pavilions and I am certainly not ashamed to say that my main impetus for traveling to Dubai was the Expo which is held every five years. That being said, I wanted to see how many games I would be able to see in Dubai.

    Monday, 29 November 2021
    (Tallahassee, Florida)

    While preparing my report for Game 3, I saw Orrin Hudson of Besomeone.org post pictures from Dubai with famous chess personalities in social media. I had just returned from a family visit in Chicago and had no idea he was attending. Incidentally, I had tossed around the idea of traveling for the championship match. I sent him a quick message on Facebook and he replied immediately to call him.

    Orrin Hudson at World Championships

    When we got on the phone he was excited about the 10 days he spent there and told me he is considering a return to Dubai for the second half. I already told Maurice Ashley I was not going to attend, but the Expo being there and Orrin giving me additional details, gave me more of an impetus to investigate further.

    A couple of days later on December 1st, Carlsen and Nepo made another draw, their fifth in a row. The chances of me covering several games were promising. I decided to make the trip! At this point, my plan was to leave on the 8th out of Atlanta, fly through Amsterdam on the rest day, and arrive in Dubai on the 10th, the morning of Game 11. However, the match was about to take a turn.

    Friday, 3 December 2021
    (Tallahassee, FL)

    Watching a top-level tournament or match is very comforting. You often watch several broadcasts with your special screens and audio equipment which gives chess an entertainment experience. I cover chess events regularly, but which is better? There is nothing compared to being at the site, but for a spectator or a journalist, it is more difficult to enjoy the action. More on that later.

    Since I had registered with the Expo website, I was also getting updates about the events at the site. Exciting stuff. I knew that in a couple of days, I would be on my way to Dubai with the hopes that Nepo would be able to extend the match.

    2021 World Chess Championship (Dubai, UAE)

    After five draws, there was a lot of negative energy about how “perfect” the games were and that there had not been a decisive result in five years. However, Game 6 would change all of that and the chess audience witnessed one of the most fascinating games in World Championship history.

    As I was preparing for the trip, I was also focused on a magnificent struggle in Game 6. I was following several broadcasts to get the impressions of the complicated position. Each time I watched on of the broadcasts, the position was significantly different.

    Almost eight hours of a gripping battle, Carlsen had won a scintillating game.

    The Tide of the Match Turns!
    (Tallahassee, FL)

    As I was making preparation to travel to Dubai, I saw the match take a turn for the worse. Game 7 was an uneventful draw with Nepo playing white. The game was barely a fight, but the two players were excused after an epic battle the previous game. Later on, many wondered where the turning point was for the Russian challenger. Many held the view that it was Game 6 that depleted his energy and wounded his morale.

    As I was following the broadcast, I heard a stir that Nepo had blundered in Game 8. Indeed.

    During Game 9, I messaged Orrin, “Nepo may lose again. We’ll get there for closing ceremonies.” It was a sick joke. With this discouraging news, I kept preparing for my trip including a stop at the testing station to get a PCR test for travel.

    I reached out to Dirk Jan ten Guezendem of New in Chess and asked if he would be traveling for the match. He told me that after yesterday’s result (and Carlsen going up 3) that he canceled his plans. Of course, I was traveling on the free day and was hoping Nepo could extend the match so my joke would not become a reality.

    Wednesday, 8 December 2021
    (Tallahassee – Atlanta – Amsterdam)

    So I am prepared to leave for Dubai for the first leg of my trip… Tallahassee-Atlanta. I had a Delta flight and in a frenzy of events, I get to the airport and miss the baggage check cut off by a few minutes. The attendant tells me the next flight gets into Atlanta at 5:58pm, well after my 5:35pm (Atlanta-Amsterdam) flight leaves. I would have to drive from Tallahassee to Atlanta to get my flight.

    After the four-hour drive, I got to the airport at 2:30pm, presented all of my COVID test papers which required me to register with the UAE health website. When I got to the concourse, I went to check on the spa and discovered they were doing rapid COVID testing! Delta was very strict about the mask requirements, but there were no crazy fights on the flight, nor anyone protesting.

    While in the international concourse and saw Orrin at a distance with his Besomeone gear on. When I caught up with him, he told me he had been upgraded to First-Class. It must be nice. I had an aisle seat and while it is usually good on long flights, this was the worst one yet.

    From my movie choices, I decided on “Erin Brockovich,” an old classic drama about a flamboyant and plain-spoken legal assistant who helped build a case against Pacific Gas & Electric Company for groundwater contamination. Julie Roberts played Erin Brockovich, a struggling single mother of three who single-mindedly chased down the facts (in her own colorful way) and helped win a landmark case.

    As I settled into my seat for the eight-hour flight, I knew I would get a chance to work on my manuscript for an upcoming book. So I get quite a bit done, eat my dinner, and then take a nap. I generally have to ensure to order my vegan meal. Airlines are getting better vendors for vegan options and this meal was tasty.

    root vegetable chili, brown rice, red beets, green onion, pumpkin seeds

    The seat had extra legroom, but it was positioned such that it was the first chair moving from the elite passengers to the less elite. So sitting in my chair, those coming to my area would walk straight toward my chair and have to make a slant to continue and avoid stepping on my foot or tripping. It also meant that the extra legroom was only imaginary. Awful.

    With a few hours left in the flight, Orrin came to tell me to check out his First-Class cabin. He then demanded that I relax in it while he took my seat. It was a very generous thing to do and I reluctantly obliged. The cabin is very nice for international travel to say the least. I have had first-class, but all were domestic.

    I settled in and watched, “Respect” the Aretha Franklin biopic featuring fellow Chicago native, Jennifer Hudson. I watched exactly 78 minutes of it. I enjoyed the first-class experience. Thanks to Orrin for giving me relief from the worse seating… at least for a short time.

    Thursday, 9 December 2021
    (Schiphol Airport – Amsterdam)

    This was a free day, so I needed to work on my report and check social medial. Orrin had access to the KLM lounge which is a fantastic place for an 8-hour layover. They have a full-service space with sleeping areas, a full buffet, and plenty of places to hide and work.

    Orrin heading up to the KLM Lounge.

    Taking a nap during the eight-hour layover

    Nice work carrel!

    Got my own candy, but they misspelled my name. Someone is getting fired.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    Thursday, 9 December 2021
    (Amsterdam – Dubai)

    OK… now on to the good stuff.

    The flight was uneventful. I had a pulled jackfruit biryani which wasn’t bad.

    We arrive in Dubai an hour late Friday at around 2:30am. I had to book Thursday night day despite arriving Friday morning. Didn’t want to take the chance of the room not being ready until 3:00pm. I ended up going to bed around 4:00am and slept until 1:30pm!

    EXPO prominently advertised!

    Luxuries brands… you already know what kind of place Dubai is

    Dubai at 3am

    Always interesting in a taxi… about 100AED from airport

    My room for a week… comfy

    Friday, 10 December 2021
    (Dubai Exhibition Centre)

    One of the adventures in travel is trying public transportation. I bought a week pass for 115 Arab Emirates dirham (AED) and hopped on platform #2. In seven stops, I would be at the Dubai Exhibition Center. The ride was uneventful and the scenery a bit average. The Metro had specific cars for women and children, but women were free to sit anywhere on the train.

    Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    Finally made it to the venue, but I had to get my credentials which would give me access until March 31, 2022! I then had to get separate credentials for the match. After greeting some familiar faces such Maurice Ashley, Sagar Shah (ChessBase India) and Mike Klein (chess.com), I settled into my station for what would be my only day of coverage. However, I was asked by Ashley to be on one of his recaps.

    Camera…check. Face mask… check. Sunglasses… check. Chamomile tea… check!

    Video by Maurice Ashley/NBC Sports

    Being at the venue is very different experience from being at home… qualitatively and quantitatively. There are so many options that as a journalist you’re trying to figure out where the action is and how to best capture it. Sagar certainly knows how to do this and I enjoy his passion.

    So… I get a chance to watch Viswanathan Anand in action and during breaks give a few autographs. He is the ultimate professional and almost single-handedly led a chess boom in India. There was a large Indian delegation in Dubai taking in the championship environment.

    Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    As stated, Nepomniachtchi’s position was deteriorating and on the verge of losing three out of the last four and four out of the last six games. This is disappointing to me because I have come a long way to see the end of the match. It appears that my joke to Orrin was right… we would only see one game.

    The handwriting was on the wall and I was in the viewing hall in time to watch the end and the audience break out into applause after the Russian resigned the match. With the match over, all that was left was the press conference which lasted longer than usual. All of the journalists were driven 10 minutes to the building which required us knifing through the EXPO crowd.

    Last press conference

    Photos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    At the press conference, there were some interesting questions and again, Nepomniachtchi conducted himself very professionally. I was able to ask a couple of questions, but one question would become important in the days to follow. It was the question on the championship match format.

    “The first five games were drawn and there were some complaints about the draws and of course, that’s a part of the match. There was also some talk about different formats. We’ve had 24, 12, and now 14. Would either of you entertain other formats which would include other platforms like 960, rapid, and blitz as part of the World Championship?”

    Carlsen gave a well-reasoned response…

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Toward the end, he hinted that he may be losing his motivation for championship matches, at least in their current form. Only days after defending his title, Carlsen was interviewed by a Norwegian sponsor, Unibet. He dropped a bombshell stating,

    “If someone other than Firouzja wins the Candidates Tournament, it is unlikely that I will play the next world championship match.”

    The story was covered in Norway’s headline as well. Social media went crazy wondering if Carlsen was going to leave the cycle if Firouzja was not the contender. The Iranian-born French citizen now holds the #2 position on the rating list, but perhaps there are others who are waiting for a chance. Besides Carlsen has stated he seeks to eclipse the magical 2900 mark.

    It turns out that I would not get an invitation and FIDE Press Officer David Llada explained there were restrictions due to COVID and he could only allow 150 guests. It was a big disappointment, to say the least. Nevertheless, it was a great experience to be in the number of attendees, but more importantly, I got to spend the next four days at World EXPO 2020!

    Magnus Carlsen, 2021 World Chess Champion

    Magnus Carlsen, 2021 World Chess Champion
    Photo by Eric Rosen

    11th-15th December 2021
    (Dubai Exhibition Centre – World EXPO 2020)

    Just a bit about the EXPO before giving my best and worst moments. It was simply fantastic! There were 192 country pavilions and all of them presented their patriotism with bold colors and national symbols of pride. Some of the pavilions were massive and included very creative architecture featuring special effects.

    Egypt has a wonderful video presentation. China was futuristic, but I enjoyed Jamaica’s colorful expression, Malaysia’s 4D experience (with mist machine) and Peru’s wonderfully educational display. Poland’s ashwood pavilion was also interesting. Angola has great music!

    Angola
    Angola Angola Angola

    Peru
    Peru Peru Peru

    Many of the pavilions showed how the country charted their respective courses of development. It was not only educational but inspiring and entertaining. All of the pavilions had nationals providing tours and information about their country. I had the honor of meeting the gentleman from Pacific island nation, Vanuatu!

    The pavilions were staged in areas touting the different initiatives: sustainability, mobility, and opportunity. The grounds covered nearly 1100 acres and featured parks, intricate pathways, wide arching boulevards, winding roads, food courts, open-air concerts and public art displays.

    I enjoyed the chess displays and was able to see the exhibitions featuring two Georgian chess legends.

    Best Memories of the World Championship/Dubai were…

    • Watching “Respect” in First Class. Thanks Orrin!
    • Seeing Maurice Ashley in the credential room. He put me on the spot and asked me to be on his recap. It was a honor.

    • Staying in the Rove Dubai Marina… nice staff, nice dining room, nice ambiance. Need chairs in the room instead of a stool, but otherwise full marks.

    • Nice dinner at the Rove Dubai Marina… marinated kale salad and Beyond Meat tacos. Surprisingly good.

    • Walking along the boardwalk and find “Just Vegan” restaurant. Of course, many of my memories center around food. Who said vegan cuisine is boring?

    Boardwalk, Dubai, UAE

    Vegan Buffalo Wings

    You must try these. Ask me about them. They don’t make them like the restaurants in Chicago, but still delicious.

    • Hearing the adhan throughout the day
    • Watching the Indian delegation interesting in all aspects of the championship… commentating, journalism and simply observing. It is why India is now a top-five chess nation. Sagar Shah and his wife Amruta Mokal are doing wonders to further the Indian chess boom.

    • It was interesting seeing the rapidly-improving Hans Moke Niemann fully engaged in Dubai and working on his chess professionalism.

    • Seeing Levon Aronian and Antoaneta Stefanova featured at the Armenian and Bulgarian pavilions as national heroes.
    • Levon Aronian honored at the Armenian pavilion as a national hero

      Levon Aronian
      Armenia Armenia Armenia

      Antoaneta Stefanova honored at the Bulgarian pavilion as a national hero

      Antoaneta Stefanova
      Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgaria

    • Wonderful conversations with Croatia, Venezuela, Iran representatives at EXPO. All females 🙂 The beautiful Croatian representative was proud that her Dad lived in my hometown of Chicago and it explained her American accent. She was also proud of Bill Belichick who she claimed as Croatian. The Venezuelan representative talked about the misconceptions of her country and the Iranian lady was telling me about a rug I admired… 40,000 euros. 😕 Samuel Berridge from St. Kitts was also engaging. He works in the Office of the Prime Minister!

    • With Samuel Berridge of St. Kitts

      With Samuel Berridge of St. Kitts

    • Fresh juice from “Grill and Chill” every morning on my way to the Metro
    • Seeing that “Address” building every morning. Inspirational!
    • Riding the Metro on a week pass… easy and efficient!
    • Watching Orrin Hudson interact with others. Interesting and inspirational insights.
    • Seeing Garrett’s Popcorn shop in a food pavilion. It is a Chicago favorite!
    • Seeing many African pioneers profiled at the African Union pavilion. I studied these leaders and the Organization of African Unity in graduate school.

    • Visiting 89 Country pavilions and a proud passport to prove it.
    • Not bad memories of the EXPO itself… a wonderful experience, and even familiar music

    Worst Memories of the World Championship/Dubai were…

    • Seeing only one game of the match. No one predicted such a collapse by Ian Nepomniachtchi.

    • Not being invited to the closing ceremonies. To come so far, only attend one game and not being able to go to the closing ceremonies was extremely disappointing.
    • Not visiting any of the tourist sites like the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Grand Mall or the desert. Maybe I will return before the EXPO ends.

    • Not particularly about the WCC, but the Atlanta-Amsterdam seat was the worst.
    • The cards thrown on the sidewalk soliciting call girls. They were strewn like confetti and they were at every meter from my hotel to the Metro. Not good.
    • Clean up this trash Dubai!

      Clean up this trash Dubai! 😡

    Final Thoughts on the Match

    Hope you enjoyed these reflections!

    For all of the EXPO coverage, start here!

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