After 13 attempts, Ian Nepomniachtchi brilliantly wins his first game in a World Championship Match.
GM Ding resigns Game 2
Ding brought a "novelty" on the board, playing 4.h3 in a Queen pawn game.
4.h3 move was never seen before at such a high level. ChessBase has ten games with that and the highest rating of a player who made it is 2175.
Ian was incredulous when he saw Ding's move. The facial expression of the Russian is eloquent:
It took Nepo eight minutes to gather his thoughts and decide to go for a QGA by replying with 4...dxc4.
As we are used to seeing, the playing hall was mostly Chair 1 vs. Chair 2, as the two opponents spent most of the time in their private rest lounges.
Black's 10th move already represented a topic moment in the game.
It took Nepo 10 minutes to consider his chances, and he went for the best move, playing 10...b4
Ding replied almost immediately with 11.Ne4, and after Nepo's 11...Na5, ding disappeared for 27 minutes!
Nepo was offering a pawn to the Chinese, but eventually, after 35 minutes of thinking, Ding decided to take the White's knight in f6.
The Russian took the knight with the "g" pawn, setting up a somewhat wild position with the g file open for the rook. If we don't consider the h3 pawn, Anand won two games with a similar pawn structure in his match against Kramnik.
At move 16, after pushing his bellicose pawn duo into White's field, Ian castled queenside. It was a splendid move, which activated the second rook and posed a lot of problems to his opponent.
At move 18, after White's Re1 - a blunder, according to Stockfish - Nepo got a chance to get a big advantage with the fantastic move 18...f5!, which he played almost immediately.
Stockfish, at depth 40, gives this position an evaluation of -2.80. At this level, the game is won.
And indeed, Nepomniachtchi played incredibly precisely, grinding down his opponent and winning in a very convincing way his first WCC game.
Nepo looked very confident, calm, and relaxed, despite his surprise and relatively long thinking after Ding's 4th move.
Ding, on the other hand, seemed to suffer a lot of the tension. Let's hope the Chinese chess genius will recover and return to give us the thrill of a fantastic battle.
Here is the press conference from the FIDE Official YouTube Channel:
Tomorrow is the first REST DAY. Play resumes Wednesday, April the 12th, at 5 AM EDT -- 9:00 UTC.
During the rest day, ICC will publish a video recap of the first two games by GM Alex Yermolinsky. Don't miss it!