United Arab Emirates has been earmarked to host the most coveted individual chess battles, the world championship 2021. After a long wait and postponement because of the pandemic – we will one day stop using the word – the spectacle which started on Wednesday and held under the auspices of FIDE, the world chess federation, is being played at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Dubai.
The match, which consists of nothing less than 14 games, will be played until December 14, 2021 and will be between two friends, the current reigning champion Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi.
Magnus Carlsen (Norway) is the reigning world champion, who will be defending his title. He is 30 years old and has held the title since 2013 when he defeated then world champion GM Viswanathan Anand of India. Carlsen is known as one of the biggest chess talents that ever lived.
He became a grandmaster at the age of 13 years, four months, and 27 days. He has won numerous tournaments and has been the world’s Number One player continuously since 2011.
Carlsen’s challenger is Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), the winner of the 2020/21 Candidates Tournament. The two-time Russian champion finished second in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix, which qualified him for the Candidates Tournament that began in March of 2020 and concluded in April 2021. Nepomniachtchi won the tournament with a round to spare, finishing at 8.5/14.
Magnus is the favourite for the title as he is the highest rated between the two with a rating of 2847 versus Nepo’s rating of 2782. Nepo has, however, dominated head-to-head figures on classical games with Magnus and that should be giving Carlsen a much-needed headache.
The two players have played a total of 77 games divided into 13 classical and 64 rapid/blitz/exhibition. On classical Nepo seemed to have been sightly better than his foe, winning four matches and only losing one to Carlsen.
Eight of the matches ended in draws. Most draws happened when Nepo was having black pieces and this sort of gives a prediction of how he will fare when playing black. Carlsen, on the other hand, dominated the shorter time games, wining 22 and losing 10, with 32 of the 64 games drawn.
The prize fund will be M35 million. The winner will earn 60 percent of the prize fund, and 40 percent will go to the runner-up. If the match ends in a tie after 14 games and a tiebreak will decide matters, the winner receives 55 percent and the runner-up 45 percent.
Before the start of the match, each player receives 200 000 euros as an upfront payment of his eventual prize money. If the match is played in the country of one of the players, then the foreign player receives 100 000 euros of the prize fund, and the remaining prize money is shared as stated above.
The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. The match consists of 14 games, and a score of 7½ wins the world championship. If the score is equal after 14 games, tie-break games with faster time controls will be played:
- four rapid games with 25 minutes each + 10 seconds increment starting from move 1. If a player score 2½ points or more, he wins the championship.
- If the score is equal after the rapid portion, up to 5 mini-matches of 2 blitzgames will be played. Time control is 5 minutes + 3 second’s increment. If any player wins one of these mini matches, the tie-break ends, and he wins the championship.
- If all 5 blitz mini-matches are drawn, 1 sudden death (Armageddon)game will be played, where black has draw odds and 4 minutes, and white has 5 minutes. Players receive 2 seconds increment starting move 61
Chess.com will relay the games live on Chess.com/events and provide a live video broadcast at Chess.com/TV, Twitch.tv/chess, and Youtube.com/Chess where a team of grandmasters will bring you the latest insights, instructive explanation of the moves, interviews, behind the scenes and more.
After each game, you will find detailed news reports by our authors @PeterDoggers and our photographer Maria Emelianova (@PhotoChess, also known as MissLovaLova).