If there were a thermometer to measure talent, it is very likely that Ian Niepómniashi’s for chess would be one of the greatest seen in the last half century. But his psychological preparation, even more important in the mental sport par excellence than in all the others, leaves much to be desired. In this duel he achieved something that had always been very difficult for him: winning a game, the 5th, immediately after losing another. However, he has failed miserably where champions do not usually: in the killer instinct, translated into a special nose to know what moment can be decisive, and act accordingly.
“I have had everything to win this duel. I had so many promising positions in the slow games that we never should have made it to the fast games. For example, everything would have changed with a couple of precise plays in the twelfth and fourteenth, ”Niepomniashi lamented in his first words during the conference that followed his defeat. A few minutes later, while Ding answered, the Russian even leaned his head against his arms, as if he wanted to take a nap to escape from that hell.
It fell short, because he could have added at least the opening game, where Ding was pretty weak, almost as weak as when he lost the second game the next day. And almost all his mistakes have a common factor: his enormous talent allows him to play very well and very fast, but without the sixth sense to tell him when to brake, feel that that particular position is critical and think much longer than usual. Niepómniashi confessed that among his secret team members was former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, who dethroned Gari Kasparov in 2000. But Kramnik only intervened on technical issues, not psychological ones.
Very dejected, he analyzed what had just happened: “The tiebreak after fourteen games is something of a lottery, and my opponent has won because he made the penultimate mistake in a game where it was unthinkable that White could lose after having come close to winning. “, said. But in addition to the penultimate error, Ding made a genius of Russian roulette, with the aggravating circumstance that he had already done something similar – rushing for victory with maximum risk despite being very pressed for time – in the seventh, which he lost. Even so, he had the arrests to repeat it with the world title at stake, which indicates a mental strength that Niepómniashi wanted for himself.
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