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Home News Everything will be decided in the tie-break: Yang Nepomniaschy and Ding Lizhen draw in the 14th game of the match for the world chess crown
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Everything will be decided in the tie-break: Yang Nepomniaschy and Ding Lizhen draw in the 14th game of the match for the world chess crown

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

After the draw in game 13 of the match for the world chess crown, many experts believed that the winner of the confrontation between Ian Nepomniaschy and Ding Lizhen would be decided already in the tie-break, since in the last game none of the grandmasters was willing to take any chances – too much was at stake;

The chess players, however, didn’t think about being cautious. The game began quietly: the Chinese sent forward a queenside pawn, and then the two players played out the Nimzowitsch Defence. But in the 12th move Lizhen impulsively sent his knight to g5, deciding to checkmate black.

“A very gambling decision, it’s obvious that the Chinese can’t wait to win or lose,” said Grandmaster Sergey Shipov, who commented on the meeting.

The Russian easily dealt with the threat, blocking the way for the knight to attack with a pawn on h6, and Ding reacted by moving his own pawn to h4, taking a big risk. At this moment Jan smiled slightly, which was noticed by grandmaster Daniil Dubov.

“His smile says, ‘I understand what you’re doing, and somehow it’s funny that you have the courage to commit this in a decisive game. And that takes the pressure off, too,” the chess player noted.

Jan easily enough found the right move in this situation with the queen on c7, creating a threat to the white bishop, and got an advantage in the game.

“I didn’t take any risks, I played the position. I thought that I owned the tempo, I could attack. But it turned out that I was too optimistic. After the opponent’s move with queen on c7 I realized: I have to defend”, – admitted Lizhen.

After the actions of the Russian, the Chinese think about his position for a long time. He passed an hour of time, but did not find the strongest move for the bishop, sending it to e2;

Alas, Nepomnyashchiy failed to take advantage of it and develop the initiative. Although he was tempted to move his pawn to b6 to give the white bishop room, he chose to play more cautiously and simply, moving his rook to d8. Further, on the 22nd move the Russian retreated his bishop to d5, while moving it to c6 would have saved an extra pawn. However, the grandmaster didn’t see that, and the situation at the chessboard levelled up again. However, not for long.

The Chinese once again tried to escalate the game and sent the rook to g3, and then moved the king to e2 for some reason. It turned out to be a serious mistake. Nepomnyashchiy immediately threw forward the rook on c3, trapping the white bishop. Lizhen had only one option to save himself – to check by rook on g8, which he did. Therefore from the planned combination Yan had to abandon.

However, the Grandmaster still had a chance of winning if he had moved his rook to b3 on the 37th move, thus endangering the white pawn. Instead, he moved his rook to e5 and again gave his opponent a chance to avoid a loss. His move to b6 allowed him to make a series of exchanges, which in turn led to a rook ending with one extra piece on black. After the meeting Nepomnjashchiy admitted his mistake.

“I think I missed the advantage by playing a pawn on e5 and I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the opponent could double the rooks on the last ridge. When I made this move, I thought it was a normal, logical move. Perhaps the rook to b3 would have been a winning move,” said Nepomnyashchy.

The computer assessed the position as equal, but the players were not going to shake hands very quickly. Nepomnyashchiy continued to look for ways to win. But Din, wasting a lot of time and effort, held on. And on the 90th move the grandmasters agreed to a draw. According to coach Vladimir Potkin, the Chinese defended perfectly in the end.

“The key moment was closer to the first time control, when the Russian had to choose the way to win. We have to hand it to Lizheng: with the lack of time he managed to find a saving idea of sacrificing a pawn. In the rook endgame Yang threw all his resources and fought to the end. Dean spent almost all his time to build a fortress. And this wall turned out to be impregnable for Nepomniyashchy,” Potkin told .

Thus, the world champion will be decided on Sunday in the tie-break. According to the results of the draw, Nepomniaschi will once again write the first game with black pieces.

The grandmasters are not going to practice before the decisive day of the competition. So I’m going to rest. The worst thing you can do is count chickens before their time,” Nepomnyashchy joked.

Lizhen, on the other hand, felt he needed to rest well and find his motivation before the tie-break. Meanwhile, according to Grandmaster Peter Svidler, predicting the outcome of the match is now difficult enough.

“We can see from both grandmasters: they are not coping well with the emotions and pressure that the score and the closeness of the title put on them. But the role of nerves should not be overestimated here. In some ways it will be easier for them to play on Sunday, since chess with short control gives them more opportunity to express themselves. Less important is the opening, and more important is how well you’re prepared to act on that particular day. So it’s hard to predict, but we’ll watch with interest how the game will go tomorrow,” said the interlocutor.

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