I am delighted to introduce my book of Ian Nepomniachtchi’s best wins. As soon as I embarked on the gratifying task of writing it, I naturally studied Nepomniachtchi’s career more deeply that I had done in the past; I was impressed by the originality of his play and his ambitious attitude. Nepomniachtchi’s career is already quite long and successful, but until the last few years he was overshadowed by other great players of his generation. His often excellent results were sometimes followed by poor performances. However, things began to change in recent years: his results are now much more stable and winning the 2020-2021 Candidates Tournament is obviously a big jump forward.
When writing this book I included, as I always do when available, comments by the players themselves, as they are an important source of information. I have to say that for this book I found fewer direct commentaries from the protagonist than in some of my previous works, but the ones I did manage to find are particularly enlightening. Nepomniachtchi is an excellent annotator: he provides clear explanations of his thoughts, both from the point of view of the chess situation on the board and other factors as well. We will see how important the practical side of the game is for him.
His opening preparation for games is remarkable. He has several ways to handle openings, as we will see. For example, he usually makes choices unexpected by his opponent. Some of his “surprises” are new ideas, while some others are just moves that sometimes make his opponent react suboptimally. On other occasions he prefers to play side-lines, or even goes for continuations that are not that familiar for him (and sometimes not in his repertoire at all), agreeing to discuss the opening on his rival’s theoretical terrain.
This book contains 30 complete games and a number of fragments that give more context on the commented game. It is written in “move by move” format: readers are challenged to solve exercises in relevant and instructive parts of the game, and the author will also answer questions asked by a hypothetical student.
I believe that this a good way to study chess, and also to teach. It has been a pleasure to write about Nepo’s creative style and I hope the reader will appreciate the games of the 2021 World Championship challenger just as much as I do.
GM Zenon Franco Ocampos
Ponteareas, July 2021