British Chess Magazine – May 2023
English | 66 pages | pdf | 28.99 MB
Welcome at British Chess Magazine May 2023 Issue
In a period of three weeks, Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren (pronounced Lee−zhen) went from being underdog to becoming the 17th world champion in chess. His success is monumental, both from a personal perspective and from the viewpoint of what he has achieved for his home country, China.
For the first time ever, a world champion in chess in the open section is from China. After years of dominating the women’s chess, the country of the Red Dragon now holds world chess titles in both the open and the women’s category. This success is a testament to China’s huge efforts over the years to promote chess in the country and will likely be a significant incentive for further investment in the game, including hosting more tournaments and chess camps. Ding’s victory also heralds a shift in the chess world’s centre of gravity back to the East. If we put aside that, at least in chess terms, Russia is now considered to be part of Asia, the two chess nations which are set to fight for dominance in the coming years will be China and India. The latter has been pouring resources into chess programs across the country, with the goal of producing a world champion.
But behind Ding’s victory lies an emotional story of struggle and triumph. Just before the match in Astana, Ding’s girlfriend broke up with him. As a result, he was living “a bromance with Rapport,” his charismatic Hungarian second.
This explained a lot: the change of the hotel, the need to be alone, being away from the chessboard for most of game one, both physically and mentally absent from what was happening.
Most people have had that experience in life but for some being left broken− hearted can hit harder when it comes at a particularly challenging moment. Still, as we have seen in Astana, Ding managed to push through, thanks to the help of his second Rapport with whom he spent a lot of time listening to the hits from the 80s (great choice!), his mother and the chess family around him.
The final moments of the last tiebreak rapid game in Astana will go down in chess history as one of the most emotional and exciting moments ever witnessed.
As the realization dawned on Nepomniachtchi that he was completely lost without any hope of a comeback, a sense of desolation suddenly washed over him, and his face betrayed his distress. Trying to hold on to something, he nervously reached for the captured pieces on the side, causing a few to tumble from the table. With his hand trembling, he made his final move. Ding, sensing the end was near, responded quickly and decisively. In less than a second, Nepomniachtchi resigned and leapt out of his seat.
As Ding realized he had won, his face was a picture of shock and disbelief. He sat at the board, head in hands, coming to terms with the enormity of what he had just achieved. And then, as the cameras turned away and Nepomniachtchi quickly exited the playing hall, Ding was in there alone, with Chief Arbiter Nebojsa Baralic being the only other person present. He stood up, walked into his private room, sat down and − broke into a river of tears. For ten minutes the new World Champion was sitting on his own, crying his heart out. Everything he had been through poured out of him – the pressure, the ups and downs, the walk on the thin line of defeat and victory. In that moment, he wasn’t just the world champion of chess; he was a human being, experiencing the full range of emotions that come with achieving something truly remarkable. Ding Liren reached and passed that horizon of victory which only 17 people had experienced in life, in the 137 year−long history of chess matches. Congratulations to Ding Liren on his historic victory!