Hello and welcome back for the ninth game of the World Chess Championship. The overall score in the showdown between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi is 5-3 to Carlsen after the Norwegian’s breakthrough wins in Game 6 and Game 8, putting the Russian challenger into something of a desperate situation with six contests remaining.
On Sunday, a fatal blunder by Nepomniachtchi donated a pawn to Carlsen in the middlegame, gifting the 31-year-old world champion an advantage he leveraged until the Russian challenger resigned after 4hr 6min.
For anyone just coming aboard, Carlsen, who turned 31 last week, has been at No 1 in the Fide rankings for 10 straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he dethroned Vishy Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, also 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April.
The best-of-14-games match is taking place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre with the winner earning a 60% share of the €2m ($2.26m) prize fund if the match ends in regulation (or 55% if it’s decided by tie-break games, as happened in Carlsen’s second and third title defenses).
We’re a little under a half-hour from today’s first move. Will we see Nepomniachtchi play yet another closed Ruy Lopez? Or will the challenger go for broke as the situation demands?