World Champion eventually?
His next stop may well be the World Championship match. At the WR Masters in Düsseldorf, Ian Nepomniachtchi will complete a practical test before he plays for the world title against China's Ding Liren. The match in Astana/Kazakhstan will begin on April 7th. This time, supported by the WR Group, he wants to seize his chance.
“Nepo”, the world number two, born in the Russian city of Bryansk, learned the game as a four-year-old. The exceptional talent of the boy shined through early on. From 2000 to 2002, he won three European Championships in a row in his respective age group. In 2002, he also won the U12 World Championship, a remarkable tournament in retrospect that included many of those supertalents born in 1990 who dominate chess today. Magnus Carlsen, among others, had to take his place behind Nepo.
Despite these early successes, Ian Nepomniachtchi is considered a chess latecomer. Too many interests kept the literature lover from devoting himself entirely to chess. Among other things, Nepomniachtchi played the video game "Dota 2" at the highest level under his nickname "FrostNova".
He was among the best in chess, but not a part of the absolute elite. During the 2010s, he had several opportunities to qualify for the tournament of the World Championship Candidates. He didn't take advantage of any of them - until the 2019 Grand Prix, which gave him a place in the 2020 Candidates Tournament as the runner-up in the overall standings. Nepomniachtchi took this success as an opportunity to work harder and more focused than ever. The reward: the 2021 World Championship match. Qualified as a 2021 World Championship finalist for the 2022 Candidates Tournament in Madrid, Nepomniachtchi prevailed once again. With one round to go, he was already the winner and the next World Championship challenger.