Nepo Roars Back With Gutsy Win In Fifth Round

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Nepo doing some last minute opening preparation before the fifth game (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


As always, you can download our daily bulletin to print and read at your leisure, or follow along with WGM Tatev Abrahamyan's annotations in our embedded study below.



Some players are dangerous because of their ability to play well in any type of position resulting from any opening. Others might lack that versatility but make up for it by being particularly dangerous in their element. By switching from 1. e4 to the queen’s pawn in game three, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi was perhaps conveying a desire to demonstrate that he was the former type of assassin.


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Ian takes back the lead! (courtesy Stev Bonhage/FIDE)


Instead, after defeating GM Ding Liren in the fifth game of the 2023 FIDE World Championship by returning to 1. e4 with compelling effect, he instead hammered home just how deadly he is in an open game with a nagging initiative.

Electing an early d2-d3 push in the Anti-Marshall that many commentators predicted would be a staple of this match, Nepomniachtchi was able to clearly conceptualize a dangerous attack out of a position where Ding admitted he thought he was perfectly safe.


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In the press conference, Ding admitted missing Nepomniachtchi's main idea in a critical line (courtesy Anna Shtourman/FIDE)


The critical moment came close to the first time control, when Ding had under ten minutes on his clock compared to Nepomniachtchi’s 40. He blundered with 37. … hxg5?? in a rare concrete miscalculation from a player known for his accuracy. But, had he understood how dangerous Nepomniachtchi’s attack would be once he reached this position, he likely would have tried to avoid it in the first place.


death stare
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The death stare! (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


In other words, Nepomniachtchi out-strategized Ding out of a position that both sides likely anticipated being integral to the match. Nepomniachtchi is a player known for streaky results, and there was some question as to how he would respond to losing his early lead. It certainly appeared as if he has buried those demons, producing such a fine attacking game in the process. The question now is whether Ding can do the same.

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan is an Armenian-American chess player, teacher, and Chess Life columnist based in Kansas City, MO. Among her best results, Abrahamyan has tied for first in two U.S. Women’s Championships (2005, 2011) and, more recently, a third-place finish in the 2022 American Cup. In 2006, she scored a perfect 9/9 to win the Girls Under 18 section of the Pan American Youth Chess Festival. She is renowned for her attacking, uncompromising style of play, for which Susan Polgar awarded her a “Goddess Chess Award” for fighting play in 2008. Abrahamyan currently works as the Chess Ambassador for the ChessUp startup.



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