Ding Liren has to calculate
Now it’s up to the Chinese grandmaster to look deep into the position and calculate lines to understand the possible idea behind 12.Bg5. The Chinese’s next move has already been awaited for ten minutes. A move like 12… h6 suggests itself. However, if Nepomnjaschchi then takes out on f6, precisely this move could ultimately prove to be disruptive, because after a possible exchange the bishop would probably prefer to be developed to g6 on g7. However, it’s not that easy for Ding Liren to find an alternative to h6. Possibly the completion of the development. After Qd7 the queen would be in play and the rooks would be connected.
There is the first deviation in the fifth match of the 2023 World Chess Championship! The quick answer 11… c5 should have shown that Ding Liren also knows the match between Alireza Firouzja and Anish Giri (2022). Based on this position, which has only been played in this single game, Jan Nepomnjaschtschi now unpacks his possibly prepared innovation: 12. Bg5. The Russian only needed 69 seconds for these twelve moves and is now leaving the stage to let his Chinese opponent think about it.
10… Na5 | 11. Ba2 c5
Nepomnyashchi also responds to the logical move 10…Na5 within a few seconds with 11.Ba2. A move first played by Alireza Firouzja against Anish Giri in August 2022, which gave the Iranian-French grandmaster a win at the time. Anish Giri then played the same move that Ding Liren now continues with: 11… c5.
9… Bb7 | 10.a4
While Ding Liren, after a brief pause for thought, continues with the logical and well-known move 9… Bb7, Jan Nepomnjaschtschi now plays a rare deviation with 10. a4. The Chinese have to think longer for the first time.
6… b5 | 7. Bb3 d6 | 8. c3 OO | 9h3
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi, in particular, flashes out the moves at high speed, although Ding Liren doesn’t have to think too long either. The variant is obviously known to both players. There are also numerous previous games in which exactly this position was already on the board.
3… a6 | 4. Ba4 Nf7 | 5. OO Be7 | 6.d3
The Russian grandmaster does not follow the delayed Exchange Variation again, but goes into the Martinez Variation of the Spanish game with the move 6.d3. Interesting.
1… e5 | 2. Nf3 Nc6 | 3. Bb5
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi goes into the Spanish game again with 3. Bb5. In the opening game of the World Chess Championship he then surprised with the delayed exchange variation, which Ding Liren must have taken a closer look at by now. It is difficult to imagine that the Russian will follow this variant again.
Jan Nepomnyashchi dares no further experiments and plays 1. e4. Are we seeing the Spanish game again?
Nepomnyashchi is overtime
Jan Nepomnjaschtschi appears at the board almost a quarter of an hour before the start of the game, settles in and shows his presence. A good ten minutes later, Ding Liren also entered the stage. The handshake takes place. In a few moments, the fifth match of the 2023 World Cup can begin.
Jan Nepomnyashchi under pressure
The pressure is clearly on Jan Nepomnjaschtschi today, who already collapsed in the 2021 World Cup fight against Magnus Carlsen after his first defeat. Now it’s up to the Russian grandmaster to prove his resilience. The good news, however, is that after his first defeat at this World Chess Championship, he has not fallen behind as he did in Dubai two years ago.
The momentum has shifted
After Ding Liren didn’t look good on the board or in the press conferences on the first two matchdays, the Chinese player has been unrecognizable since Tuesday’s rest day. Because he was always focused on the board recently, he radiated a completely different presence both during the games and in the subsequent press conferences. In addition, he played two clean games in a row. While he managed to draw with the black pieces on Wednesday, he mercilessly exploited the Russian’s first mistake with White on Thursday.
Nepomnyashchi again with white
The Russian grandmaster opened on Matchday 1 with his standard move 1.e4 and then surprised Ding Liren on Wednesday with 1.d4, which he has only played in about 10% of his classical chess games. However, the Nepomnyashchi did not seem to have felt really comfortable in the d4 system, which is why it is rather unlikely that he will deviate again today. There is much to suggest that we are seeing 1.e4 again today.
One win and two draws
The world championship fight is balanced after the first four of up to 14 games. While both of Jan Nepomnyashchi’s white games ended in draws, Ding Liren lost his first white game before he was able to hit back with the white pieces on Thursday and equalize to 2.0 to 2.0.
Welcome to the fifth day of play
Welcome back from Astana! The fifth game of the 2023 World Chess Championship will take place here today between Jan Nepomnyashchi and Ding Liren. The first move is at 11:00 a.m.