One wrong move from Ian Nepomniachtchi in Game 9 of the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship was all it took to push Magnus Carlsen closer to the coveted title on Tuesday (December 7).
Engaged in a tense tactical battle, Nepomniactchi, who was coming off a massive meltdown in the previous game, could not avert another decisive collapse after a costly pawn push that allowed a bishop to be trapped on move 27.
"I could not imagine there is a way to blunder in that position," the Russian challenger admitted in the post-game interview.
Carlsen, the reigning world champion who was riding the crest of two monumental victories in the last three encounters, capitalized on Nepomniachtchi's misstep, culminating to a 39-move win.
"You don't expect to win a piece for basically nothing at this level," the fancied Norwegian bared.
"It was a very, very strange lapse."
Carlsen now holds a commanding 6-3 lead in the 14-game championship series, moving on the verge of a successful title defense.
On the other hand, Nepomniachtchi has a tall mountain to climb as he needs to secure three wins in the last five matches of the tournament.
The intense action continues on Wednesday (December 8) for Game Ten of the World Chess Championship.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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