World Championship All Tied Up Headed Into Final Classical Game

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All photos courtesy Anna Shtourman/FIDE


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With no rest for the weary after a dramatic and hectic game 12, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi did not take many risks in drawing the penultimate game of the match with the white pieces.




GM Ding Liren seemed prepared for Nepo’s latest deviation in the Anti-Marshall variation of the Ruy Lopez, and earned a small advantage out of the opening after a couple of uncharacteristically passive moves from Nepomniachtchi.

While the opening was not a success for White, keeping the edge proved difficult for Ding, at one point resting on a counterintuitive continuation on move 24 that rested on a knight sacrifice. After missing this, Nepomniachtchi quickly equalized.




Ding once against showed a readiness to sacrifice an Exchange rather than suffer for the sake of holding onto material equality. The position was imbalanced but, without incredibly precise play, impossible for White to prove an edge. Nepomniachtchi allowed a repetition of moves shortly thereafter.

With the score tied headed into the final round, and neither player showing a particular willingness to take risks in this game, it is quite likely that tiebreaks will be looming.

Interestingly, this was the first time Ding had fully equalized (let alone claimed an advantage) playing 1. … e5 as Black this match, which could suggest either that Nepomniachtchi’s well of ideas is drying up, or that he is saving a few ideas for the impending tiebreaks.




Today's annotations come from IM Nazi Paikidze. Paikidze is a Russian-born Georgian-American chess player currently residing in the Las Vegas area. She has won two U.S. Women’s Championships, the first in 2016 with an impressive 8½/11 score in her second appearance and the second in 2018 with a tiebreak victory over WIM Annie Wang. Paikidze won a number of individual and team medals in her youth, and, at the age of 16, was ranked 35 in the world of FIDE’s list of top women by rating. In 2012, she began studying at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and switched her federation to the U.S. in 2013.



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