World Championship Game 7: Ding Liren crumbles in time trouble
The FIDE World Championship 2023 witnessed a fourth consecutive decisive game. However, this time it did not end in any of the previous manner. Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Ding Liren on time. The position was lost too for the World no.3. He made a correct exchange sacrifice. However, he could not maintain a stronghold to split the point. Instead, he erred which allowed the World no.2 to capitalize on his opponent's mistake and win the game. The score is now 3-4 in Nepomniachtchi's favor. Four consecutive games were won by the player with the white pieces and wins were traded. Will we see the pattern to continue? Today is a rest day. Game 8 starts tomorrow Thursday 20th April at 3 p.m. local time, 2:30 p.m. IST. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage
"I played not so bad, just in the end I messed up things"
"I'd say the whole game was extremely sharp, extremely tense. I don't know I felt like I should be doing quite fine. After 21.f4 suddenly Bd6 is superb move. I didn't really see what to do. Maybe there were like a lot of sharp lines but I couldn't figure what do I do... I was like very skeptical about my position in case if Black would play 28...Bf6 instead of Qd6. Because after 29.Rxh7 Qd6 looks ugly. My rook is stuck on h7. It's never under attack. My king is weak. I was really really concerned at this point but after at least 28...Qd6 I could play 29.Qe3, 31.Rc4 and just stabilize a little. I shouldn't be losing by force or something..." - Ian Nepomniachtchi on 33...Rd3 and the aftermath of it.
"In the previous move, when he played 31.Rc4, I realized something. Maybe I was slightly worse after that. I cannot go Rd3, he can take on c5. and then he has Rc8+. If I go Kg7, he will just play Rf1. He is stabilized means he is going to be better. I wanted to take immediate action, so I played 31...h4 with the idea 32.gxh4 Rd2 I totally missed 33.Re2 Rd1+ 34.Kg2. So after 32.gxh4, I started to think again and I couldn't find any way to continue the game." - Ding Liren on his 33...Rd3 mistake. He also added, "After 32.gxh4 it's very hard to play. If I just wait here, he will play Rf1 and then my position is hopeless. I just couldn't find the right continuation during the game."
Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Game 7
"Actually during a walk with Richard back in Hangzhou, I told him I may play French Defense, but it's a half joke, half serious. He took it seriously. Today he insisted me to try French Defense to surprise my opponent. I took the advice, I prepared a lot for this game. The opening was the one which I played in my childhood, but now the theory has developed a lot. So it cannot be called the old French, it's new French... I played the game I think not so bad, just in the end I messed up things." - Ding Liren on opting French Defense in Game 7.
World's most successful chess coach in history, Peter Heine Nielsen tweeted a reply: "Tal would have put the pawn on e5, kept it in his hand, smiled, and put it back on e6." For those who are unaware, he was referring to Fischer - Tal's game from 1959.
Black was set on giving up the exchange when he opted for 21...Bd6 instead of Bxg5. Both are equally fine. 22.c3 Nxf4! 23.Bxf4 Rxf4 24.Rxf4 Bxe5 25.Rh4 Rd8 26.Be4 Bxe4 27.Rxe4 Rd5 Black's well placed bishop and extra pawn for the exchange is an enough compensation.
Things started falling apart when Black blundered 33...Rd3. 34.Qxc5 Rd1+ Nepomniachtchi felt Bd4+ would have given Black some chance to fight for a draw but it was slim to non-existent as White's material advantage allows him to stop the checks eventually.
Harikrishna sympathized with Ding Liren's loss
Reigning Netherlands champion and no.4 of his country, Erwin l'Ami echoed the same sentiment
In case you are wondering, when was the last time there were four decisive games or more, chess historian Douglas Griffin has the answer
Replay all games
Every game starts at 3 p.m. local time, 2:30 p.m. IST. There is a rest day after every two games. Fifth game is on Saturday 15th April 2023.