World chess title contenders reveal their role models

The 2023 World Chess Championship is being held in Astana, Kazakhstan, with the absence of reigning champion Magnus Carlsen. The International Chess Federation selected the second highest ranked player of the 2022 Candidates tournament, GM Ding Liren, to compete against the first ranked player, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. During a press conference, both players made statements about which players were their role models to improve their chess level.

The World Chess Championship 2023 is already underway and takes place in Astana, a city founded in 1830 (like Akmola) of more than 1.3 million inhabitants in Kazakhstan. As usual, the participating players face each other in a match to the best of 14 games at a pace of play that can exceed 8 hours uninterruptedly.

During the history of this high-level competition, there have been numerous events that have generated all kinds of controversies and anecdotes, but we can safely say that this is the most talked about. Many of us would not think of it after the great effort involved, since the current world champion GM Magnus Carlsen declined to defend the world title. This decision shocked the chess community, a community that had his reign very much in mind and which could far surpass that of GM Garry Kasparov and GM Emanuel Lasker.

Because of his decision, a place for the competition was left vacant, so the International Chess Federation had to select the second best classified of the 2022 candidates tournament (qualifying tournament to participate in the world championship) and it is GM Ding Liren, bypassing the participation of the first classified GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (or commonly known as Nepo). After this decision by the international federation, the current world championship, which is currently being disputed, would be configured as follows: Nepomniachtchi vs Liren, both challengers for this year’s world title.

Months passed until the press conference was held last Saturday, April 8, 2023, an event in which general sports journalists from the media and specialized media, online gaming platforms and others such as content creators on the largest video platform or personalities of considerable reputation, asked them questions about how they face the competition, what expectations they have, how it feels to play in a World Cup, among others, but it was not until the end of the day when one of them asked both players: Who is your role model?

Laughter filled the press room after this very interesting and emotional question and the first to answer was the Russian player Ian Nepomniachtchi claiming that when he was between 5 and 6 years old he was inspired by the 4th world champion of the Soviet Union of the s. XX Alexander Alekhine but that, at present, he commented that one can learn first of all from any player of great level but mainly from any world champion, since each one can extract different points of view and highlight those strong points that made them stand out.

After the answer of “Nepo” continued the Chinese GM Ding Liren (candidate to the world title) who assured that among the models to follow to improve in chess is, no more and no less, a national eminence for the Spanish chess community, an exceptional player who participated in the third edition of our international tournament that we organize, elllobregat Open Chess (link), is the Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (commonly known as Paco Vallejo). In it I highlight his great ability to play one of the most popular defenses in the 64-square strategy, the French. His role models include GM Garry Kasparov and GM Magnus Carlsen.

As we reported in our next edition in April, this year 2023, fourth edition of the tournament to be held for the second consecutive time in Sant Boi de Llobregat from November 30 to December 8, we will also have the participation of Paco Vallejo, who has already confirmed his registration.

The candidates’ tournament is still in progress and as of today three games have been completed, giving half a point to the Chinese player GM Ding Liren and one and a half points to the Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

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