"The strategy was not to lose" - Eteri Kublashvili interviews Ian Nepomniachtchi

by Eteri Kublashvili
5/6/2021 – Ian Nepomniachtchi won the Candidates Tournament 2020/2021, and in November he will play against Magnus Carlsen for the world title. In an extensive interview with Eteri Kublashvili after the Candidates, Nepomniachtchi talked about his preparations for the second part of the Candidates and revealed why he once was so frustrated during his preparations that he threw his "iPhone into the wall". He also talked about his key to success, Magnus Carlsen - "a very nice dude" - and why "there is never enough time to prepare". | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Ian, you won one of the most important events in every chess player’s career and qualified for the World Championship Match. It’s a great achievement, congratulations! So, how do you feel now? 

Thank you. I feel really exhausted because it was an incredible tournament in many, many senses of the word. First of all, I guess it took 400 days from start to finish, it is kind of outstanding. Well, when you read about chess history, players were travelling by sea, from America to Europe and so on… In our times, you know, it’s not romantic at all because of the global pandemic thing.

I think the most difficult part was not playing chess, but these 13 months between the first and second legs, during which one somehow needed to keep one’s focus, needed to prepare constantly thinking about other guys: what were they doing, how did they prepare, what were they going to play, because basically, it’s one year between the tournaments and only seven games to prepare for. So, you should be ready that you’re going to face completely different players in a completely different situation.


Yes, it was a very long and nervous period of expectation and negotiations, but still, in one of his interviews, Anatoly Karpov said that this one-year break would do you good because probably you would save more energy for the second part. Do you agree with this? 

Well, especially now when I know the result – yes. Indeed, I’m not the person who should whine about this long break, since in the end, I won the whole thing. However, I’d say that this also would help other guys, because, you know, the Candidates Tournament is a very difficult competition, the stakes are very high, and there’s only one place, so it doesn’t matter if you finish on +1, or +2, or earn some rating: you should score the maximum amount of points, you should take the first place. Basically, you can earn some rating, you can play some good games, but all this will never make you happy unless you win the Candidates.

Complete interview at the website of the FIDE...


Eteri Kublashvili is a chessplayer and reports and photographs from all official tournaments for the Russian Chess Federation.


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