Hello and welcome back for Game 3 of the World Chess Championship. We’re back for a third straight day following a pair of draws in Game 1 and Game 2 that were notable for longtime champion Magnus Carlsen making early pawn sacrifices in exchange for long-term initiative. In either case, Ian Nepomniachtchi’s opening advantage ultimately didn’t hold up and he was forced to rely on precise endgame play to emerge with a result.
The general consensus around today’s highly anticipated third encounter is that both Nepomniachtchi (who will be marshaling the white pieces) and Carlsen (playing with black) will have a real go at a decisive result before the first rest day of the match on Monday.
For those of you just coming aboard, Carlsen, 30, 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 Viswanathan Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April with a round to spare. It’s the culmination of a rivalry that started nearly two decades ago when they first met across the board as boys at the 2002 European Under-12 Championship in Peniscola, Spain. Notably, Nepomniachtchi enters the title tilt with a winning lifetime record against Carlsen in classical matches (four won, one lost and eight drawn). That makes him unique among today’s top players, even if two of those victories came in youth championships.
The best-of-14-games match is scheduled to take place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre over the next three weeks, 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).