Nepomniachtchi's strategic and positional thinking

9/3/2021 – ChessBase Magazine # 203 with the "Special: Ian Nepmniachtchi" makes you want to follow the upcoming World Championship match in November. In the current issue, for example, our authors analyse their favorite game played by the 31-year-old Russian. The result is an exclusive collection of 21 annotated games. Karsten Müller puts the challenger's technique to the test in his contribution "Nepomniachtchi's Endgames". And Mihail Marin explores the question of what distinguishes Nepo's playing style. In addition to many training tasks, his strategy contribution includes an introductory video in which the GM from Romania outlines his findings. Take a look!

ChessBase Magazine 203 ChessBase Magazine 203

"Special": Ian Nepomniachtchi with analyses and videos. Adhiban, Navara, Praggnanandhaa, Vitiugov, Wojtaszek and others comment on games from the World Cup. Opening videos by King, Marin and Werle. 10 opening articles and much more. Enjoy the new layout!

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"Nepomniachtchi's strategic and positional thinking"

Mihail Marin's strategy articles in ChessBase Magazine always provide an excellent training session. In the current issue, he goes through no less than 16 games by Ian Nepomniachtchi with you. Today we offer you Marin's 22-minute introductory video to his full-length article. 

Video introduction (Complete video from CBM #203 - playing time: 22 minutes)

"Since Nepomniachtchi is a very dynamic and active player, identifying his strategic and positional trademarks is not trivial. Dynamics and statics, strategy and tactics seem to go hand in hand together. "Mysterious moves" could well have been an independent section, but these moves are to such an extent typical of Nepomniachtchi that there would be not enough material left for other chapters.

I have created the following three categories:

  1. A) Static positions
  2. B) Manoeuvring and regrouping
  3. C) Fighting for the initiative

A) Static positions

Despite his marked dynamic tendencies, Nepo would not have reached such a high level if he had not mastered the static positions as well.

In Nepomniachtchi, I - Bu, X (1-0), White played a game very much in Karpov's style.

Black is apparently doing fine, and he is a tempo up with a known tabiya of the Smyslov System. However, it was precisely this extra tempo (...Qd7) that allowed White to bury his opponent strategically.

In Nepomniachtchi, I - Vachier-Lagrave, M (1-0), Nepo was playing a bit against himself, since his opponent used the Grünfeld Defence, one of the Russian's favourite openings with Black.

Things do not seem alarming for Black at this point, but Nepo needed only a few moves to set up a crushing domination. True, he then almost ruined everything with a careless move, but the last mistake came from Vachier.

In both positions above, White had a clear advantage objectively, even though that was not that obvious from the beginning. Nepo "only" needed to find the best moves to prove his advantage.

In the next examples from this section, things will be different. The starting positions will be roughly equal, but Nepo will outplay his opponents by playing a series of moves that offered the best chances for maintaining the tension and allow the opponent to go wrong.

In Nepomniachtchi, I - Bruzon Batista, L (1-0), Black seemed to be out of danger, due to his excellent control of e5.

At this point, the game resembles a famous Lasker-Capablanca game. A bit later, it became more similar to Fischer-Unzicker (in both classical games, White played the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez).

In Oparin, G - Nepomniachtchi, I (0-1), Black's structure looked more promising.

However, the relative weakness on b4 and the knight on the edge should suffice for White's maintaining the equality. He did not manage to answer Nepo's mysterious moves adequately, though.

Mihail Marin's strategy article contains a total of 16 games by Ian Nepomniachttchi packed with numerous training questions!

ChessBase Magazine #203

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