Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen and his Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi are opting for different preparation methods as the two leaders of the golden 1990-born generation prepare to head for Dubai, where their $2m, 14-game title series opens on 14 November.

The Muscovite is using the traditional method of a training camp, where his grandmaster aides probe for weaknesses in Carlsen’s broad opening repertoire and plot an overall match strategy. This was the method used by Sergey Karjakin in 2016 and Fabiano Caruana in 2018, when both the Russian and the American reached a 6-6 tie, before losing to Carlsen’s speed skills in tiebreak games.

Nepomniachtchi may even have a stronger back-up team than his opponent, for he can count on Peter Leko, the influential Hungarian who helped him qualify as challenger from the 2021 Candidates at Yekaterinburg, while Carlsen is unlikely this time to call on the creative young Russian Daniil Dubov who produced some key ideas against Caruana.

Unlike 2016 or 2018, Carlsen has been operating at full throttle this autumn. After winning first prize at Stavanger with a surge in the closing rounds, the No1 made a cameo appearance for his team in the European Club Cup before this week’s final of the $1.5m online Meltwater Champions Tour.

There, on Sunday evening, Carlsen played a remarkable speed match with the world No11 Shak Mamedyarov where all seven games were won by White before the champion triumphed in the final Armageddon game.

Puzzle 2438

Harriet Hunt v Yuri Yakovich, Stockholm 2002. White to move and win. Hunt, 43, is England’s all-time No1 woman player, but she is also an academic and college lecturer specialising in plant genetics who now appears only in occasional games in the national 4NCL league or in the England online team.

At her peak, when Hunt was in the world top 20 and winning gold medals, she scored her best victory by an elegant sequence in today’s puzzle against a Russian grandmaster. Can you work out White’s forced win?

Click here for solution

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