Ding Evens Score With Fantastic Fourth Game

Please download our printable bulletin of GM Elshan Moradiabadi's coverage of this stunning game!


What a week! Over just two days, the narrative surrounding the 2023 FIDE World Championship has gone from questioning whether GM Ding Liren was in acceptable form to whether GM Ian Nepomniachtchi can recover.

After a confident draw with the black pieces on Wednesday, Ding was all smiles and assured reporters he had settled into his element. Nepomniachtchi got very little playing white after choosing to open with 1. d4, but that should not be too much reason for pessimism, as nobody thought this would be his main weapon.


Image Caption
courtesy Anna Shtourman


Instead, Ding followed Nepo’s lead in also picking a different opening move in his second game with the white pieces, returning to an English Opening with 1. c4 that got him into hot water against Nepo just last year. But the Chinese grandmaster was comfortable, inadvertently following a game played by his second, GM Richard Rapport, for over ten moves before choosing an original pawn sacrifice for a huge center.





Clearly, Rapport approved of his partner's play, as evidenced by the above photos by FM Mike Klein that has since been making the rounds.


FM Mike
Image Caption
The "Fun Master," FM Mike Klein, lived up to his name, making the ceremonial first move. Ding could not get 1. b3 off the board fast enough! (courtesy Stev Bonhage)


From here, Nepo’s position was objectively playable, but by no means pleasant. He surprised commentators by continuing to move quickly, rather than taking the time to make sense of his position. This set Ding up to play a brilliant Exchange sacrifice, absolutely paralyzing Nepo’s position. From there, Ding took his time, converting with the cold precision he is renowned for.


Image Caption
courtesy Anna Shtourman


As play heads into the weekend, the match is tied once again, and momentum is firmly on Ding’s side.

Today’s annotations come once again from GM Elshan Moradiabadi. Moradiabadi is the second Iranian player to reach a 2600 FIDE rating. He moved to the United States to attend Texas Tech University in 2012, and has represented the United States since 2017. Moradiabadi is also a distinguished coach, having coached the U.S. national team in the 2019 World Team Championships and the Pan Am team that same year. He currently resides in Durham, NC.



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Well, not for Nepo, at the time of this game, but Ding won with the white pieces in round four. And at the time of commenting, both Nepo and Ding have added another win with white to the scoreboard. Interestingly, this means Ding has not played a single draw with white so far (with a loss in round two and wins in rounds four and six). That was not on my bingo card!

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