Nepo Steers Clear of Complications, Coasts to 11th Round Draw

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courtesy Stev Bonhage


Please download our printable bulletin, or follow along with in-depth analysis from IM Robert Shlyakhtenko embedded below!



After four consecutive wins in the 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship, things have returned to business as usual after round 11 ushered in the fourth consecutive draw. With GM Ian Nepomniachtchi clinging onto his slim lead, GM Ding Liren now only has three chances (but two with the white pieces) to send the match into tiebreaks.


Image Caption
courtesy Stev Bonhage


Nepomniachtchi stuck to his trusty 1. e4, and the two entered into a different kind of Ruy Lopez, albeit one where Nepomniachtchi had previously had success against Ding. One question will be whether Ding chooses to stick to 1. … e5 in his final game with the black pieces on Thursday. If so, he might set up a must-win last game. If not, it would mark the first occurrence of the more imbalanced Sicilian Defense in the match.


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Ding was still in good spirits after the draw, reminding reporters that he did not secure his spot in this tournament until the last round of the Candidates, anyways (courtesy Stev Bonhage)


As this game progressed, the critical moment occurred after White’s move 19. Ding followed a pattern of picking a slightly risky, yet concretely sound, defense over some slightly more present options. Nepomniachtchi then broke character, steering the game towards a peaceful end.

Today’s annotations, courtesy of IM Robert Shlyakhtenko, show just how much venom was in some of the variations that the Nepomniachtchi of the first half of the match surely would have jumped at. Shlyakhtenko is is one of the top 100 American players as of April 2023, and is currently the 17th ranked junior. In 2019, he became the youngest ever Southern California state champion, was co-champion of the (now) Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School State Champions, and won the Southern California Open. In 2020 he won a CJA award for “Best Instruction.” After a long wait, his International Master title has been approved by FIDE, and he is currently seeking GM norms while preparing to begin his freshman year at Brown University this fall.



See all of our 2023 FIDE World Championship coverage.

See results and full schedule on the official website.

Follow our lichess profile for more studies.

Watch live commentary of each round on and from FIDE.

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