Score after the 14 classic games: Ian Nepomniachtchi 7 vs Ding Liren 7
Score after the 4 rapid games: Ian Nepomniachtchi 1.5 vs Ding Liren 2.5
So, after a dramatic match, Ding Liren wins the 4th game of the rapid game tie-break to become World Champion.
Game 1 Nepo – Liren: Nepo is better for most of the game, but doesn’t make the most of his chances when Liren is under time pressure. Draw agreed.
Game 2 Liren – Nepo: Not a good advertisement for playing 4.h3. Nepo’s active play with the black pieces leads to a quick win against some uninspired play from Liren. Nepo wins.
Game 3 Nepo – Liren: Nepo plays 1.d4 and a Carlsbad structure ensues. Liren seems more comfortable in this opening, easily equalises and then presses with the black pieces. Nepo counters well and the players repeat moves in an equal position. Draw by triple repetition after 30 moves.
Game 4 Liren – Nepo: Liren plays the English opening more confidently than Nepo. He achieves a strong pawn centre at the expense of a pawn. Under pressure, Nepo plays impulsively and makes a positional blunder, allowing Liren to sacrifice the exchange to achieve a crushing position. Win for Liren.
Game 5 Nepo – Liren: A Ruy Lopez sideline. Nepo is well-prepared and gains the initiative which he never releases. Liren gets a difficult position and doesn’t find the best defence. A strong attacking game by Nepo despite an apparent hiccup near the end. Nepo wins.
Game 6 Liren – Nepo: A London Sytem. Liren obtains a lasting positional advantage from the opening. Nepo can’t hold the position against clever play. Liren sets up a pretty mating net and wins.
Game 7 Nepo – Liren: A line from the Tarrasch variation of the French defence. Nepo gets the initiative with play against the black king. Liren defends well in some complex tactics, gives up the exchange to break up white’s attack and seems to be getting on top. However, he struggles to find a good continuation, runs his time down to only a few seconds left for a number of moves and blunders. Nepo wins.
Game 8 Liren – Nepo: Nimzo-Indian opening. Liren plays aggressively, gives up a pawn to open the h-file against black’s king and get a passed d-pawn. He gains a winning position, but by-passes two or three winning continuations. Nepo offers his rook to get a perpetual check which Liren refuses, but both players are mistaken about the perpetual. Still under pressure, Nepo finds a key defensive resource and sacrifices a knight to equalise the position. A draw results.
Game 9 Nepo – Liren: 4.d3 Berlin defence (Ruy Lopez). After some innovative opening play, black advances on the queenside and white responds by initiating a king-side assault at the cost of a pawn. Good defence from Liren sees Nepo return to the queenside. He declines the win of the exchange which could give Liren chances with rolling passed pawns and instead heads for the endgame. After dissolution of the queenside pawns and an exchange of major pieces the game enters an endgame where white still has some tactical pressure. Liren gives up a pawn to relieve the pressure and reach a theoretical draw. Draw.
Game 10 Liren – Nepo: English opening – 4 knights. Nepo plays an unusual move and takes a slightly worse position out of the opening, but seems well-prepared. He defends well to get a stable position, where white can’t make progress without swapping off most of the pawns. The players exchange down to a drawn rook endgame. Draw.
Game 11 Nepo – Liren: Ruy Lopez – a main line anti-Marshall. Nepo chooses not to complicate and instead opens up the position leading to many exchanges and a rook ending. The game is quickly drawn.
Game 12 Liren – Nepo: Colle system with a “mouse slip” by black on move 6. Liren gets a present from Nepo and a complicated, double-edged position results where Liren has the opportunity to attack his opponent’s king. Nepo defends brilliantly and turns the tables on Liren, but then the game turns crazy with Nepo unnecessarily handing back a pawn and allowing counter-play. Some rushed moves from Nepo and Liren is suddenly in charge again. Under pressure Nepo collapses with a further blunder. Liren wins.
Game 13 Nepo – Liren: Nepo tries another version of the Ruy Lopez (4.d3), but Liren gets an advantage with standard play. Liren plays a little inaccurately and Nepo begins to recover. Liren gives up a rook for a bishop and pawn, but generates enough play with the two bishops and a passed pawn against a passive rook to ensure a draw. Draw by repetition.
Game 14 Liren – Nepo: Nimzo-Indian with Bd2. Liren pressures with an aggressive 12. Ng5 instead of castling and 12…h6 13.h4 follows. Nepo defends solidly, perhaps missing stronger alternatives and so Liren, low on time, is happy to swap pieces and reach a slightly worse endgame. Liren appears to make some errors, but Nepo fails to take make the most of the opportunities. A nice combination from Liren forces a theoretically drawn rook ending. Nepo presses but, in the end, a draw.
Interesting post-game anaysis by Caruana for each game on C-squared.
From the FIDE website:
The World Championship Match consists of 14 games. The player who scores 7.5 points or more wins the Match, and no further games are played. If the score after 14 games is equal, the winner is decided on a tiebreak. Since the World Champion Magnus Carlsen officially declined to participate, the Match will be played between the two challengers, the winner of the 2022 Candidates Tournament, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and the runner-up, Ding Liren.
Prize-money: 2 million euros = 3,233,000 Aus dollars, split 60% to the winner, 40% to the loser.
For more information and live games, see:
Official website Chess.com Chess24.com Wikipedia