YEKATERINBURG, April 26. /TASS/. Russian Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi won on Monday the FIDE (the World Chess Federation) Chess Candidates Tournament with a round to spare of the international competition, currently hosted by the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
During the penultimate round on Monday, the 30-year-old Russian drew his game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France to pack a total of 8.5 points after 13 rounds.
Nepomniachtchi became unattainable for runner-up Anish Giri of the Netherlands as Giri holds 7.5 points in total following his defeat on Monday to another Russian chess player Alexander Grischuk.
"Ian Nepomniachtchi is the winner of the FIDE Candidates Tournament with a round to spare and a new Challenger for the world championship against Magnus Carlsen. Congratulations!" a statement on the official website of FIDE reads.
"In the penultimate round, he drew his game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave while Alexander Grischuk helped his compatriot by defeating Anish Giri," the statement added.
The 2020 Chess Candidates Tournament, which was disrupted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed this year, is to decide who of the world’s top eight grandmasters would win the right to face reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Speaking to journalists after his match with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Nepomniachtchi said: "I cannot name a particular match as a deciding one."
"It was extremely important to clinch wins against Kirill [Alekseenko of Russia] and against [China’s] Wang Hao," the Russian grandmaster said speaking at a news conference in Yekaterinburg. "In fact, when I worked as a commentator during the previous two Candidates Tournaments, I realized that a player should never go frantic and lose matches."
"One may go for some boring draws, but must never lose a match," Nepomniachtchi said.
The Russian chess player also said that he planned to get some rest and good sleep after the tournament in Yekaterinburg.
"I was definitely under a solid strain and could not sleep at all during my first three matches and that is why I opted for a quick draw in the match against Anish [Giri]," he said. "I managed to get a good sleep before the match against Kirill [Alekseenko], but it does not mean that the strain went off. It was extremely difficult to relax at that time."
The tournament kicked off in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg on March 15, 2020 and was scheduled to end on April 5, 2020, but was suspended shortly after its start as Russia was forced to close all international flights on March 27 amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Nepomniachtchi is now set to battle for the world’s chess crown against Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in Dubai between November 24 and December 16. The tournament in Dubai will be held within the frames of the Expo 2021 Dubai and offers two million euros ($2.4 million) in prize money.