Jan Nepomnyashchi thinks for over nine minutes and then avoids a possible exchange of his knight, which is regrouped with 12…Ne7.
Ding Liren again plays very quickly and places a knight in the center with 12.Ne5. Of course, Jan Nepomnjaschchi cannot take with his own knight, since after dxe5 a pawn fork would follow. The move would not lose a minor piece, since the Russian had Qb6 as an excuse. However, the white pawn could eat its way up to g7 and expose the opponent’s king, which is why capturing in the center is out of the question.
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi thinks for over six minutes and then decides to play a useful waiting move with 11… h6. In principle, the Russian can be satisfied with the way the opening has gone so far.
10… OO | 11. Re1
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi thinks for three and a half minutes and then also castles briefly, whereupon Ding Liren continues within seconds with 11. Re1. The Chinese obviously doesn’t want to spend too much time in the opening again, so he opts for a very natural developmental move.
8… Bd6 | 9. Bxd6 Qxd6 | 10.OO
Should Jan Nepomnjaschtschi have been prepared for the London system, his theoretical knowledge now obviously ends with 8. Bb5. After the move he stays in the rest room for more than three minutes before he returns to the stage, moves quickly and tries to exchange the dark-squared bishops with Bd6. Ding Liren agrees to this and then castles briefly.
Maybe the Chinese grandmaster just wants to avoid a possible preparation of Jan Nepomnjaschtschi, who again draws very fast. 8. Bb5 is only the fourth most frequently played move in this position after the main moves Qb3, Nh4 or Be2.
Ding Liren thinks for a long time
Ding Liren has been sitting at the board thinking for over five minutes. In view of the fact that he must have thought something about the London system, it is actually difficult to imagine that he is already out of preparation after seven moves. In any case, the choice of the opening is questionable. After all, Magnus Carlsen is one of the few top players who often play the London system, which is why Jan Nepomnjaschtschi will certainly have already thought about it for the 2021 World Cup fight.
6… Bf5 | 7. c3 e6
It passes on with very normal moves, whereby Jan Nepomnjaschtschi plays faster again and quickly comes up with his plan: After the white-squared bishop has been developed after f5, he closes the pawn chain with e6 and excludes his bishop, the Ding Liren, however, now also directly with Nh4 could attack. A maneuver that is very well known in such types of openings with the white-squared bishop of the black player outside the pawn chain.
3… c5 | 4. e3 Nc6 | 5. Nbd2 cxd4 | 6.exd4
After 3… c5 4. e3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 a well-known position arises in which Jan Nepomnjaschtschi opts for a rather rare move. With 5… cxd4 he takes out in the centre. Among other things, Vladimir Kramnik played it in 2019 in a game against Magnus Carlsen.
1… Nf6 | 2. Nf3 d5 | 3. Bf4
The Chinese grandmaster provides another big surprise in the World Championship match. After the normal moves 1… Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 he continues with 3. Bf4 and goes into the London system. An opening that is very rarely found at the very highest level.
The game is on. Ding Liren returns to the train he lost on last Monday. 1. d4 is on the board.
Nepo with a bad memory of the sixth game
Meanwhile, Jan Nepomnjaschtschi should not be fond of remembering the sixth game at the 2021 World Chess Championship. After the first five duels with world champion Magnus Carlsen all ended in a draw, the Russian collapsed after an incredible 136 moves in an almost eight-hour thriller. The game went down in the history of the World Chess Championships as the longest game ever and inflicted a painful defeat on Jan Nepomnjaschchi, from which he never recovered. By the way, the Russian also led the black stones in the sixth game.
One mistake was enough
Overall, both players acted with extremely high accuracy and always punished an opponent’s mistake coldly. After two flawless games, the most recent blunder that Ding Liren made yesterday on move 37 with only eight minutes left on the clock was partly due to the time trouble created by a very fast-moving Jan Nepomnjaschtschi. Accordingly, it would be desirable for the Chinese to create a position today in which they can better keep their balance over time. With this in mind, it’s quite possible that we’ll see 1. c4 again and end up in a system in which Ding Liren feels comfortable. Exactly on that, however, the Russian could also speculate.
The next decision in the sixth game?
If Ding Liren played with the white pieces, there was always a decision. The Chinese lost his first White game last Monday in a kind of Queen’s Gambit Declined with the unusual move 4.h3 before equalizing on Thursday in the Four Knights game of the English Opening. A victory would be good for the Chinese grandmaster today, with which he would immediately catch up again.
Already three decided games
Since Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand had two decisive games in the first five games at the 2014 World Chess Championship, the first five games in the last three World Championships in a row have always ended in a draw. There is a lot of excitement this year, because after five matches played there were already three decisions. With two wins, Jan Nepomnjaschtschi is currently leading with 3.0 to 2.0.
Welcome to the sixth game
Hello and welcome from Astana, Kazakhstan, where today the sixth match of the 2023 World Chess Championship between Jan Nepomnyashchi and Ding Liren is on the agenda. The game starts at 11:00 a.m.