The first two games of the World Chess Championship between Ding Liren and Jan Nepomnyashchi have been played. Despite hours of live streams, viewers rarely saw the two protagonists. The two main actors have been criticized for this by other chess professionals, among others.
Anyone who switched on one of the numerous live streams for the 2023 World Chess Championship on the first two days was often rewarded with a look at the board and two empty chairs. Instead of sitting across from each other on stage, Ding Liren and Jan Nepomnjaschtschi retired to their quiet rooms for much of the encounter to contemplate the position and their next moves. Understandable, but of course not in the interests of the viewers.
“The players almost never sit on the board at the same time and spend too much time in their own rooms. Fans around the world tune in to see two empty chairs,” complained grandmaster Susan Polgar, who described this as “very annoying”. .
Even superstar Anish Giri, who commentates on the World Championships for the world association FIDE, couldn’t help but make a pointed comment towards Nepo and Ding. The Dutchman wrote on Twitter in view of the empty stage: “The next World Cup match they should have thrones instead of chairs and call it ‘Game of Thrones'”.
There was also mockery from Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. The American, who analyzes the World Cup games in detail in his own streams, commented on Twitter: “Does anyone else find the World Cup of chairs fascinating?”
“It’s totally different to think on the board”
Despite the criticism, the status quo will probably not change, because: both players act within the framework of the rules. Nowhere is it written how long they have to sit on stage per game. In theory, they just have to get to the board to make their move. After that you can withdraw.
Ding indicated after the second game that he will probably continue to do so in the future. Sitting in the rest room remind him of the online game. “It’s totally different thinking at the board,” he said, who has adapted to playing at home during the pandemic.
Nepomnyashchi agreed with him. “It reminds me of these Covid online times,” said the Russian, who described thinking in the rest room as “comfortable”. “I don’t think there should be any restrictions either.”
Nepo recalled that he spent a lot of time in the rest room in his last World Cup game in 2021 against Magnus Carlsen. “But mostly because I ate a lot. And I couldn’t part with my snacks,” he joked.