Ian Nepomniachtchi is back to fight for the chess crown after winning the FIDE Candidates Tournament for the second time in a row, repeating Vasily Smyslov’s feat from 1956. ‘Nepo’ did it in style, securing first place in Madrid-2022 with a round to spare and proving that losing the World Championship Match to Magnus Carlsen 3½-7½ did not stop him in his tracks.
Nepomniachtchi learned to play chess at the age of four from his grandfather. Raised in a family of teachers, he has always been curious by nature and had a wide range of interests. He was a prodigy, and not only in chess: he also won several student merit awards and medals, alongside his numerous titles in youth chess competitions. Nepomniachtchi graduated as a journalist from the Russian State Social University. Ian, under the nickname ‘FrostNova’, also played the video game Dota 2 at a competitive level but chose chess as his primary career path.
The strongest Chinese player in history, Ding Liren, was born in 1992 in Wenzhou, the hometown of China’s first Grandmaster, Ye Rongguang, and the former Women’s World Chess Champion Zhu Chen. His talent became evident at an early age. Guided by experienced coaches from his native “chess city”, he became the youngest-ever Chinese champion at 16 and a Grandmaster in the same year, 2009. He also won two back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012.