Russia's Nepomniachtchi to challenge Carlsen for world title

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian chess grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi clinched victory at the Candidates Tournament on Monday, earning him the chance to challenge Norway's Magnus Carlsen for the world title later this year.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) had suspended the tournament at its halfway point in March 2020 when Russia grounded international flights to slow COVID-19 transmission, raising concerns that foreign players would have trouble returning home.

The eight-player tournament resumed earlier this month in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) east of Moscow, with security measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"It's a huge milestone in my career and perhaps in my life," Nepomniachtchi said after winning. "I am extremely tired. It was one year of thinking about this tournament, one year of preparation."

The 30-year-old Russian had been tied for the lead with France's Maxime Vachier-Lagrave when the tournament abruptly came to a halt last year.

Nepomniachtchi will face Carlsen at the World Chess Championship in November in Dubai.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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