Ding Liren was set to make it a staggering five wins for White in a row, but a combination of missed chances, a bluff, and brilliant defence from Ian Nepomniachtchi saw Game 8 of the World Championship match end in a draw. Ian now leads 4.5:3.5, while Ding has to deal with the fallout of his “anonymous” pre-match training games being discovered online.
Replay Game 8 of the 2023 FIDE World Championship match in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Watch the day’s live commentary with Tania Sachdev, Anish Giri and Robert Hess.
Ding Liren didn’t know it as he sat at the board, but just as for Fabiano Caruana in the 2018 World Championship he’d suffered a title match player’s nightmare, with his opening ideas leaked online.
This time he only had himself to blame, now that all online games enter databases, since there was otherwise no conceivable way for players, nevermind “1500-players”, to play more than one of the opening bombs seen in the match.
On the chessboard, however, Ding Liren pounced on Ian Nepomniachtchi’s first mistake of another thriller, and he was soon just a move or two away from clinching the win and levelling the scores in the match.
Alas for fans of the Chinese star, he missed the cleanest win, believed his opponent rather than calling a bluff, and finally his 37.Bf3? (37.Bc6!) allowed Ian Nepomniachtchi a shot that he didn’t miss.
37…Nxf2! 38.Rxf2 e4! deserved to hold a draw, and there were even nervous moments as Ding could have lost if he’d collapsed again in time trouble.
This time he held on and is just one point behind with six games to go, but how many more heavy blows can a man take?
Come back later for player quotes and analysis!