10. Bxf4 exf4
Ding Liren takes the knight off the board, whereupon Jan Nepomnjaschtschi takes it back forcibly with the e-pawn. Richárd Rapport vs. Ilja Zaragatski (2013) is still the most prominent predecessor game, which is followed by this fourth game of the World Chess Championship. Richárd Rapport then continued with h4.
Should Rapport have a hand in this, the plan would definitely have worked, because Nepomnjaschtschi plays 9… Nf4 exactly the move with which Zaragatski fell behind against Rapport back then.
Again Ding Liren responds within seconds and plays 9. d4. It is interesting that there is a previous game in which Richárd Rapport, the second of the Chinese, defeated the German grandmaster Ilja Zaragatski with the white pieces. Can you see the handwriting of the second here? Incidentally, Zaragatski then continued with Nf4, which was already a very slight inaccuracy. On the other hand, Black keeps the balance with the move Qf6.
Jan Nepomnyashchi continues to waste a lot of time early in the game, but then finds the theoretical move 8…Nh5 after just under five minutes. The Russian has already used up a quarter of an hour. Unusual for the 32-year-old, who usually plays very quickly.
Ding Liren is still in full preparation and, as part of the calm variant of the Four Knights game in the English Opening, executes the absolutely theoretical move 8. Be2.
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi looks into the position for five and a half minutes and then plays the logical continuation with short castling.
6… d6 | 7.e4
Both players are still very fast. For the second time Ding Liren moves his e-pawn, whereupon Jan Nepomnjaschtschi should castling short. At least this move came in well over 90% of all previous games where this position was already on the board.
5… Bxc3 | 6. bxc3
Nepomnyashchi plays the principle move. He gives up his bishop pair, but this also weakens the Chinese’s pawn structure.
4. e3 Bb4 | 5. Qc2
The game follows normal moves. No surprises yet. After 5. Qc2, Nepomnjaschtschi might now give up his white-squared bishop against the knight. At least that corresponds to the absolute main variant in this system.
1… Nf6 | 2. Nc3 e6 | 3. Nf3 Nc6
Ding Liren has the opportunity to get into d4 systems by changing moves, but then remains true to the English opening. After the development of all knights, the game ends up in the English four-knight game.
Ding Liren opts for 1. c4 – one of his three standard moves. The English opening.
The players are there
Ding Liren is the first player to sit at the board. Jan Nepomnjaschtschi initially lies on his couch in the relaxation room, but now he also comes onto the stage. The handshake takes place. The game can start shortly.
Does Ding Liren also surprise on the first move?
Yesterday the experienced e4 player Nepomnjaschtschi opened with the very unusual move 1. d4. Is it Liren who surprises today? The Chinese grandmaster is known as a d4 player, but he also likes to start with moves like 1. c4 or 1. Nf3, with which he can switch moves and end up in his usual d4 repertoire. Anything other than one of these three opening moves would be the next little bang in this world championship fight.
Is the Chinese attacking today?
Very exciting is the question of whether Ding Liren will attack with the white pieces as an attractive player today or whether he is instead aiming for another draw in another quiet game. In any case, with white he has the better options to play for a win, for which he also has to show something. In his first game with White, the 30-year-old played the curious waiting move 4. h3 in a kind of rejected Queen’s Gambit, after which Jan Nepomnjaschtschi was able to equalize easily.
New hope for Ding Liren
After losing the second game, Ding Liren showed a completely different face after the rest day. The Chinese sat concentrated on the board for long stretches of the game, worked out a safe and comfortable position from which he could even have tried something, and at the end of a flawless game he safely converted into a draw.
Nepomnyashchi with 2.0 to 1.0 in front
Jan Nepomnyashchi drew twice with the white pieces, but in his first game with Black he was able to win against Ding Liren. Overall, the Russian leads with 2.0 to 1.0. But there is still a long way to go to the world title. 7.5 points are required for overall victory at the 2023 World Chess Championship.
Welcome to the fourth day of play
Good day and welcome back from Astana. The fourth game of the 2023 World Chess Championship will take place here today between Jan Nepomnyashchi and Ding Liren. It starts at 11:00 a.m.