World Championship Game 3: Ding comfortably draws with black

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/12/2023 – Game 3 of the World Championship match saw Ding Liren comfortably holding a draw with the black pieces. The game lasted 30 moves and a bit over 3 hours. Ian Nepomniachtchi thus kept his 1-point lead on the scoreboard, a lead he gained thanks to a remarkable win in Monday’s second game. | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

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Back to traditional chess

Find expert commentary — video and game annotations — by well-known coach and author IM Robert Ris at the end of the article.

A smiling Ding Liren showed up at the press conference following a 30-move draw in game 3 of the World Championship match. The Chinese had shared his emotional struggles after the first two encounters — on Sunday and Monday, he had survived an inferior position and suffered a painful loss with white, respectively. As candid as ever, the 30-year-old explained:

My friends helped me to deal with my emotional problems. Now I feel more comfortable on the stage.

After playing a somewhat eccentric novelty in game 2, one that was likely prepared by his second Richard Rapport, Ding went for a more traditional approach in his second outing with the black pieces. English grandmaster Daniel King shared on Twitter:

Queen’s Gambit Declined. Back to traditional chess. Will Ding play in the modern way with …b5 or stick to …Nh5 exchanging bishops, relieving congestion?

Ding opted for the latter option, following a game he had played against Anish Giri at the 2022 Chessable Masters preliminaries. Sound, strategic manoeuvres by both contenders followed, as they only deviated from the Giri game on move 17. 

As the players left the opening phase, Ding’s position began to look more auspicious than his opponent’s. Ian Nepomniachtchi did not falter, though, as he correctly assessed the situation and continued to find neutralizing moves in a strategic middlegame.

On move 28, Ding could have opted for a pawn push that would have kept the battle going — albeit with some risks in the long run — but instead went for a triple repetition that stabilized his footing in the match. Thus, Nepomniachtchi still has a 1-point lead on the scoreboard. The Russian will get the black pieces in Thursday’s game 4.

Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi

Six (time-lapsed) Ian Nepomniachtchis make their way to the stage, as Ding Liren considers what to play next | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Stage fright gone

During the first two games of the match, the contenders had chosen to spend an inordinate amount of time analysing the positions in the resting room instead of remaining seated on the stage. A more confident Ding showed that he is aware of the criticism shared by some on social media, as he decided not to ‘hide’ any more. The 30-year-old stated in the press conference:

I am getting better. As you can see, I spent more time on the stage than hiding in the resting room.

Out of the ever-trustworthy QGD (Queen’s Gambit Declined), Ding saw his opponent repeating 16 moves from a game which the Chinese had played — also with black — just last year:


Giri had played 17.Qf2 at the 2022 Chessable Masters, while Nepomniachtchi went for 17.N1c2 this time around. Ding continued to execute a natural plan from the black side — ...c7-c5, ...Bd7, etcetera — and soon found himself in a slightly better position.

Nepo reacted judiciously, as he found the most accurate neutralizing idea on move 27.


27.Nb5 prevents Black from trading on d4 next, removing White’s most active piece on the board. Ding replied by the correct 27...Nc7, and naturally Nepo jumped back with 28.Nd4. Here Ding was presented with a choice between all but forcing a draw or keeping the battle going. As Dutch grandmaster Jan Werle noted on Twitter:

Ding took the safer route, and the draw was agreed shortly after.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Still in the lead — Ian Nepomniachtchi | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Expert analysis by IM Robert Ris - Video and annotated game



FIDE World Chess Championship 2023

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.