Ian Nepomniachtchi, the 30-year-old Muscovite who will challenge Magnus Carlsen for his world crown, has added a supercomputer to his team as the Russian chess champion aims for a glittering prize.

For more than 60 years, from the 1945 trouncing of the US in a radio match until 2007-08, when Vladimir Kramnik lost to India’s Vishy Anand, the USSR/Russia reigned supreme, with the exception of Bobby Fischer in 1972. 

Now Nepomniachtchi has help from the Zhores supercomputer at the Skoltech Institute in Moscow, founded in partnership with MIT. World title matches often produce a narrow opening repertoire, like the Berlin Wall of Garry Kasparov vs Kramnik in 2002 and the Sveshnikov of Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana in 2018. In these conditions, the computer comes into its own.

Candidates Tournament success for Nepomniachtchi was down to his coping well with surprises in the first half, then avoiding defeat in the second half. In a recent interview, he also gives some homely advice: “Keep cool, chill, play some good chess and try not to be affected by emotions.”

Who will challenge Carlsen in 2030? This week in Budapest a 12-year-old American boy, Abhimanyu Mishra, is close to becoming the youngest-ever grandmaster. Remember that name . . .

Puzzle 2419

White mates in two moves. White is queen, rook, two bishops, two knights ahead, but only an obscure route to mate works (hint: it’s not a check).

For solution, click here

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