WCC Round Three: Ding Draw Turns Tides

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An enthusiastic Nepo prepares himself to go into uncharted territory with 1. d4 (courtesy Stev Bonhage/FIDE)


GM Ian Nepomniachtchi’s second turn with the white pieces ended peacefully in the third game of the 2023 FIDE World Championship, but, in hindsight, this might be a crucial turning point in the trajectory of the match. Download and print our bulletin to read along, or check out the interactive study embedded below.



For starters, “Nepo” opened with a move other than 1. e4 for the first time in either of his FIDE World Championship appearances. GM Ding Liren appeared confident, staying at the board longer rather than retreating to the rest area.


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Ding was in good spirits in the post-game presser (courtesy Anna Shtourman/FIDE)


More significantly, it was the first game of the match where the Chinese player was never in any danger. Not only was Ding was able to stop the bleeding, but he was able to do so while choosing whether to keep pushing for an advantage. After the game, Ding appeared smiling in the press conference and said he felt much more prepared mentally.


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Nepomniachtchi deep in thought during the middlegame (courtesy Stev Bonhage/FIDE)


That Ding appeared in control this game should come as no surprise, however, as Nepomniachtchi actually (and deliberately, apparently) chose to follow a rapid game GM Anish Giri had played against Ding just last year until White’s 17th move. It was unclear what Nepomniachtchi hoped to achieve out of the opening, as Giri had mentioned during live commentary that he found his experience playing this sort of Carlsbad position against Ding to be demoralizing.

Admittedly, at the time of writing, game four had already concluded, which could contribute to a bias in covering yesterday’s result. Had things gone differently for Nepo today, it may have been more tempting to applaud him for choosing not to push too hard immediately after a win, or even praise him for keeping such an even keel.

Instead, it is hard not to wonder whether Nepomniachtchi himself felt a bit flustered during this game, similar to Giri’s experience last year in the same position, and whether this at all contributed to his dangerously fast play in the decisive fourth game.

Please enjoy today’s annotations from WGM Katerina Nemcova. Nemcova is a Czech-American women’s grandmaster who has played for the United States since 2013. She was the 2008 European Youth Championship in the Girls U18 division, and the runner-up in the 2007 World Youth Championship. Since then, she has balanced her playing career with education, first at University of Texas Brownsville, then Webster University, and now the University of Arizona where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Communications.



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 Chess.com and from FIDE.

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