It is going to be a very exciting World championship. I would say that both Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi are not only two of the strongest players but most interesting to watch as well. There is a nice contrast in styles, too. I think they are fairly equal in terms of ability.

I would favour Nepomniachtchi slightly because recently he has made dramatic progress and his victory in the Candidates tournament was very convincing. Ding played much less due to Covid restrictions.

Patience is one of Ding’s strengths. He will give his all in every position. He is much more stable and has this ability to come up with good ideas in his openings, which is all the more remarkable because he has a reputation of working alone. 

Nepomniachtchi has a little bit of unpredictability. He is very much an all-rounder. He is also incredibly well-prepared. I think he trained hard for his match against Magnus Carlsen. His touch of genius can become a weakness sometimes.

It is unfortunate for the World championship that Carlsen is not taking part. As an impact, the first Chinese World champion could be historic and could have a dramatic effect on the game.

As told to P.K. Ajith Kumar


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