Ding Holds Nepomniachtchi To Draw In Game 3

Ding Holds Nepomniachtchi To Draw In Game 3


GM Ian Nepomniachtchi shook up the third round of the 2023 FIDE World Championship by beginning his game against GM Ding Liren with a new first move, setting the stage for a fresh opening battle with 1.d4. Ding chose the Queen’s Gambit Declined in response and the game ended in a draw by repetition after 30 moves. Nepomniachtchi leads the match by one point.

The Chinese challenger will have the white pieces in game four, which begins on Thursday, April 13, at 15:00 Astana time (2 a.m. ET/11:00 CEST)

How to watch the 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship 

After Ding suffered a loss in game two, the chess community was buzzing with anticipation. A big question was: which approach would Ding adopt in game three? Would he come out with a fiery and aggressive strategy, or opt for a more calm and solid approach as Black? Ultimately, Ding adopted the solid approach and chose to play the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

Kazakh astronaut Talgat Musabayev made the ceremonial first move. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

In the press conference, Ding was open about being surprised by Nepomniachtchi’s first move. “I didn’t expect it, especially for this game. Although he has played it recently, it is not his main weapon. So, it came as a surprise this time.”

The players followed a rapid game between GM Anish Giri and Ding from the 2022 Chessable Masters until the 17th move. Nepomniachtchi was the first to deviate with 17.N1e2 instead of Giri’s 17.Qf2.


Talking about his game against Ding, an elated and smiling Giri said on the broadcast: “I am quite pleased. What he thought was worthy of playing against me in the rapid, he finds worth of playing in the World Championship match game. I feel honored that he wasted world championship match preparation against me!” 

Speaking about the choice of opening and the resulting position, Nepomniatchchi revealed at the press conference that he had looked at the Giri vs Ding rapid game prior to the round today. He added: “Queen’s Gambit Declined is a very solid opening. It’s hard to disrupt the equality.” 

Nepomniachtchi leads the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

The commentators observed that Ding spent more time over the board, unlike the previous round where he spent more time thinking by being in the rest area. “I like the fact that he is sitting at the board. In the long term, it is going to help him if he is going away only when he needs to” said GM David Howell. 

Speaking further on the subject, Anish added: “The resting area is a luxury that players have only in top tournaments and having a resting are with the screen where you can see your board is very rare even in top tournaments. Whether you get up during your opponent’s move or not is a choice and many players have different habits. GM Peter Svidler is known to walk very fast, pacing around the entire playing hall. I also like to walk a around a bit, but GM Veselin Topalov sits at the board the entire time and I believe that its a decision that he and his manager made. They decided at some point to follow Fischer’s path to the top and Bobby Fischer was always sitting at the board as well. This approach is interesting, especially if combined with incredible stamina which is what Veselin always had.”

Chess.com’s senior journalist FM Mike Klein asked Ding if he consciously chose to stay more at the board. Ding answered as follows: 
“I would like to thank my friends as they helped me with my emotional problem. Now, I feel more comfortable at this stage.” When asked to elaborate on it, he shared: “I thought that at some point that I had some trouble with my mind. It is not as serious as I expected. My friend talked to me and I realized that it may be concluded as pressure before the match.”

A relaxed Ding after the game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

The game’s pace shifted when Ding began to play at a much faster tempo. It was during a critical moment in the game, when Ding recaptured the bishop with his knight, that Ian Nepomniachtchi found himself thrust into deep thought. 

In the post-game press conference, Ding talked about this critical moment: “I was not so happy about the result as after 21…Nxd7, which I think was missed by Ian, I was at least not worse and I was playing for win at some point. But, I couldn’t find a way to breakthrough.”

The final critical moment in the game was when Ding chose to play 27…Nc7.  “Instead of 27…Nc7, I also considerd 27…d4, but it was too risky after exd4. So, I think, in the end, the draw is a pretty decent result for both of us”.

GM Rafael Leitao analyzes the full game below. 

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

When asked about favorite movies, Ding was quick to say that it is hard to choose one favorite movie as it keeps changing with time. Nepomniachtchi chose “The Reader” as his favorite. Coming to Music, Ding recalled that he loved listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the wind’ recently and Nepomniachtchi confessed to not having a fixed playlist and his choice of music depends on the mood.

Apart from staying at the board for a longer time, Ding also relocated back to St. Regis hotel and it seems like he is currently more comfortable both in his life at board and away from board!

Conversations about the use of supercomputers are quite common when it comes to world championships.  When Mike asked about it, the players shared their thoughts as follows: “Have a pretty strong computer, but not as strong as you are expecting.” said Ding. 

“I guess the same story. To make your opponent afraid, you should claim that you have a super computer. But, everyone has good engines and it is not something above the sky.” said Nepomniachtchi.

Other questions at the press conference:

To Ding: Do you think your extended break from classical play has affected the quality of your chess or ability to concentrate and think well for long periods of time during this match?

Ding: It’s hard to say when the tournament is still going on. Let’s see what happens next.

How do you deal with and manage anxiety during tournament match?

Nepomniachtchi: Quite poorly. If you don’t feel anything, then something is wrong with you. So, I guess it is part of the job. 

Ding: I am getting better. You can see that I spent more time on the stage today than hiding in the restroom.

Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

Match score

Name Rtg 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Score
Ding Liren 2788 ½ 0 ½

Ian Nepomniachtchi 2795 ½ 1 ½

The 2023 FIDE World Championship is the most important over-the-board classical event of the year and decides who will be the next world champion. Nepomniachtchi and Ding play a match to decide who takes over Carlsen’s throne after the current world champion abdicated his title. The match has a €2 million prize fund and is played over 14 classical games; the first player to gain 7.5 points wins.

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