Ding collapses under time pressure as Nepomniachtchi regains world chess championship lead

The Chinese had the initiative with the black pieces but found himself with less than three minutes to make nine moves and reach move 40 when 60 minutes are added to the players' clocks

By Reuters

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Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi. — AFP
Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi. — AFP

Published: Tue 18 Apr 2023, 11:30 PM

The seventh game of the chess world championship took an unexpectedly dramatic turn when China's Ding Liren froze under time pressure and lost to Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi from a potentially winning position on Tuesday.

Ding had the initiative with the black pieces but found himself with less than three minutes to make nine moves and reach move 40 when 60 minutes are added to the players' clocks.

Instead of playing a safe move to reach the 40th move, Ding waited until he had 45 seconds left to make his move — a blunder that handed Nepomniachtchi a decisive advantage and his Chinese opponent resigned with 17 seconds left and no chance of turning things around.

"In the end I just messed things up," Ding told a news conference at the halfway point of the best-of-14 match after the fifth decisive (non draw) game of the event with Nepomniachtchi leading 4-3.

At the world championship, players have two hours each to play the first 40 moves, with 60 minutes being added to reach move 60, before 15 minutes are added with a 30-second increment per move being then granted.

Nepomniachtchi qualified for the event in Astana by winning the Candidates tournament, while Ding earned his spot after reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway decided not to defend his title after a 10-year reign.

"Somehow he's a bit frozen. He's unable to make a move. It's psychological! He's just frozen," Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri, the world number six said as he commented for Chess.com.

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