Ian Nepomniachtchi played a record fast game. His opponent didn’t even think about winning

Dmitry Kryakvin

Dmitry Kryakvin

Ian Nepomniachtchi played a record fast game

The Russian after three rounds scored two points and remains one of the leaders of the Candidates Tournament.

Against the backdrop of tense starting battles, Ian Nepomniachtchi in the third round very calmly and quickly played a draw against Teimour Radjabov. It was felt that the Azerbaijani grandmaster, after a sensitive blow from Hikaru Nakamura, needed a break and really wanted to get off the mat as soon as possible – in fact, he did not even try to perform some kind of so-called “test” and set at least a minimal task for the Russian.

Nepomniachtchi quickly played well-known moves on the board, and a draw was recorded on the 30th move. The chess players spent less than two hours at the board, which is a kind of record for the current tournament. But, unfortunately, in chess this happens if the opponent strongly strives for peace with white pieces.

Candidates tournament – 2022. 3rd round

Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) — Yan Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2
The Catalan Opening is one of the most popular and difficult openings of our time. White is ready to give up the c4-pawn for the sake of initiative and control of the big h1-a8 diagonal with his fianchetted bishop.

5… c5 6. 0–0 Nc6
Jan abandoned the orthodox plan of Ce7, 0-0 and only then taking on c4, which he used after the match against Carlsen, in favor of another popular line. And Teimur decided not to risk it.

Alternatives 7. Qa4 Bd7 8. Qxc4 b5 or 7. Ne5 Bd7 8. Na3 cxd4 9. Ka:c4lead to a difficult fight, but White has often succeeded lately by trading queens.

7… Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5 9. Nbd2 c3 10. bxc3 0–0
Black managed to spoil White’s pawn hairstyle a little, and now the question is – can he develop the queenside without losses?

11. Nb3 Be7

12. Nfd4
First surprise. In recent years, theoretical debates have centered around 12. c4 Bd7 13. Bb2 Rfc8 14. c5 Be8 – Black stands firmly, while White hopes, with the support of the c5-pawn, to gradually infiltrate pieces on d6. Instead, Teimour sets a course for unloading.

12… Bd7 13. Nxc6
13. Nb5 or 13. Bg5 somehow supports the minimal intrigue, but still a draw is most likely here.

13… Bxc6 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Be3 Nd5 16. Bd4 c5
All this has already been encountered in the game Mikhalevsky – Mikhalchik (2009), and the game quickly rolled towards a peaceful outcome.

17. Nxc5 Bxc5 18. Bxc5 Rfc8 19. Bd4 Nxc3 20. Bxc3 Rxc3 21. Rac1

21… Ra3!
Minimal accuracy – with 21… Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Kf8 23. Rc7 White becomes the strong side due to the strong rook.

22. Rc2 h5 23. Rd7 a6 24. Kg2 g6 25. e3 Kg7 26. Rcc7 Rf8 27. Rd6 Re8 28. Rdd7 Rf8 29. Rd6 Re8 30. Rdd7. Draw.
Ian Nepomniachtchi after the third game day with two points out of three possible continues to be among the leaders of the Candidates Tournament. After such a “unloading” day and a day off on Monday, the Russian will have a duel with Alireza Firouzja – perhaps one of the most important in the first round.


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