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World Championship Game 2: The Self-Destruction of Ding Liren

by Shahid Ahmed - 11/04/2023

The second game of the FIDE World Championship 2023 was a lopsided game. After a brief spark of 4.h3 which got the chess world talking, soon Ding Liren started making questionable choices. An uncanny exchange of 12.Nxf6+ made it seem like, it is not world no.3 who is playing. By move no.18, the Chinese landed himself in a lost position against Ian Nepomniachtchi. He had no trouble wrapping up things and score his first win at a World Championship after a dozen games. Unlucky for some, number 13 turned out to be the number where Nepo scored his first win. Ding Liren must regroup himself quickly if he wants to etch his name in history. Today is a rest day. Game 3 starts tomorrow, Wednesday 12th April at 3 p.m. local time, 2:30 p.m. IST. Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

13th time is the charm for Nepomniachtchi

"I'd say after I played 18...f5, it's clearly very very shaky for White... I just threw the pieces in the center and it was enough." - Ian Nepomniachtchi on when he felt he was going to win the game.

Ding Liren suffered his first loss at the World Championship 2023 | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

"Of course to lose like this, the way that I cannot understand what was happening. After 18...f5, the position is very difficult for me and then Ian played a very nice move 19...Nc6 which I missed, nearly everything in the game." - Ding Liren on the second game.

Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi, Game 2

Position after 4.h3

"I had some feeling that maybe it's some influence of Richard (Rapport). It's little bit like this - tricky moves which without like some direct idea. It turned to be like very venomous because well basically after 4...dxc4, I can get one tempo up in te Queen's Gambit Accepted. Then I just didn't know so I just decided to go to a position which was I'd say in my prep from another move order but with the pawn on h3. I'm not sure if this move is good or bad, maybe just changes nothing. In the end, I think Ding got a well-known position but having a tempi up. So finally it worked. It clearly has it's own idea." - Nepomniachtchi on he what felt seeing 4.h3 on the board and the aftermath of it.


"4.h3 is a move that is very rare. Actually I know a lot of ideas after 4.h3 but today the game was a disaster for me. The idea was a good invention of my seconds. I just didn't play it very well." - Ding Liren on the element of surprise he unleashed in the second game.

Position after 12.Nxf6+

12.Nxf6+ A fundamental error by White. White has castled on the kingside, allowing his opponent an opportunity to open up the g-file is clearly not a good idea. He only calculated Qxf6 and mentioned in the post-game press conference that 12...gxf6 came as a total surprise to him. This shows that Ding Liren is not himself in this game. He certainly did not play like a world no.3 in this game.

Position after 18...f5

After 18...f5! the game is practically over for White. There is not much left to fight here. 19.Bc2 Nc6 20.Bg5 and here Vishy Anand felt 20...Rxg5 was screaming to be played. Black did play that. 21.Nxg5 Nxd4 22.Qh5 f6 23.Nf3 Nxc2 24.Rxc2 Be4 25.Rd2 Bd6 26.Kh1 c3 27.bxc3 bxc3 and Black's passed c-pawn is enough to bring the full point to him.

Game 2 - It took Nepo 13 games to achieve this! Analysis by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India
Ding Liren vs Ian Nepomniachtchi - Game 2 Live Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India
Press Conference after Game 2 of World Championship 2023 | Video: FIDE

Photo Gallery

Timur Turlov, the Founder and CEO of Freedom Holding Corporation, the General Partner of the FIDE World Championship made the ceremonial first move of the second game | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

Who will be standing tall in the end - Nepomniachtchi or Ding Liren? | Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

Both players can be easily distinguished from the shoulders | Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

First of few or many handshakes? | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

Empty chairs are often seen during the game as the players are diving in their think tank inside their respective rest zones | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

Vishy Anand and Irina Krush are the official commentators | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman
Replay FIDE World Championship 2023 Game 2 Live Commentary by GM Vishy Anand and GM Irina Krush | Video: FIDE


Every game starts at 3 p.m. local time, 2:30 p.m. IST. There is a rest day after every two games. Third game is on Wednesday 12th April 2023.

FIDE World Championship 2023 schedule | Photo: FIDE


Official site

Match Regulations

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