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Top 5 Interesting Facts about the 2023 World Chess Championship

The highly anticipated 2023 World Chess Championship is just around the corner, with Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi set to battle it out in Astana, Kazakhstan from April 7 to May 1. The championship features a total prize fund of €2 million, distributed among the players based on the outcome of the match.

As the incumbent world champion, Magnus Carlsen, opted not to defend his title against the winner of the Candidates Tournament 2022, the chess world was left in anticipation of a new champion. Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren, who had taken the top spots in the FIDE Candidates tournament, will now vie for the title of World Chess Champion.

As we count down to this exhilarating event, let's dive into the top 5 unique and interesting facts about the 2023 World Chess Championship match.


1. Nepomniachtchi is Ahead in the Score

One of the most interesting aspects of the upcoming 2023 World Chess Championship match between Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi is their head-to-head record. In classical games, Nepomniachtchi has won three times against Ding Liren's two, with nine draws. But that is not the whole story. Nepomniachtchi's record is even more impressive when we take into account the rapid and blitz games between the two players. In these shorter-time-control matches, Nepomniachtchi has won 8 times, compared to Ding Liren's 3. Overall, in all the classical, rapid, blitz, and online games that they have played against each other, Nepomniachtchi is ahead in the score by 13 points.

head-to-head record

It is worth noting that this head-to-head record only tells a part of the story, and the championship match will be a different beast altogether. However, it is interesting to see how Nepomniachtchi has performed against Ding Liren in the past and how that might give him some confidence going into the match.


2. Ding and Nepomniachtchi are Ranked #2 and #3

Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi are not only fighting for the world championship title but possibly for their place in the world rankings. The two Grandmasters are ranked second and third in the world of chess. Nepomniachtchi, who is 32 years old, is ranked number 2 with 2795 Elo rating points, while Ding Liren, 30, is ranked number 3 with a rating of 2788. With only 7 rating points separating them, the outcome of the match could see either player climb or fall in the world rankings.

Importantly, however, the incumbent world champion Magnus Carlsen still holds a significant lead in the world rankings. With a rating of 2853, Carlsen is in a league of his own, as he has been for much of the past decade. Nevertheless, the high ratings of Ding and Nepomniachtchi make them rightful contenders for the championship title in the absence of MC. And who's not excited to see how their skills match up against each other in the upcoming match?


3. The 4th World Championship Match Without a Defending Champion

The 2023 World Chess Championship marks the fourth time in history that a world championship match is held without a defending champion. Previous moments in history include the untimely death of GM Alexander Alekhine, who was the reigning champion in 1946. Two years later, Mikhail Botvinnik won a five-player championship tournament, contested between himself, Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, and Euwe, to become the sixth world champion.

In 1975, the reigning champion GM Bobby Fischer could not agree with FIDE on the match format and lost his title to Candidates winner GM Anatoly Karpov. In 1993, GM Garry Kasparov left FIDE and played a world championship under the Professional Chess Association instead. This led to a schism in the chess world that lasted until 2006 when GM Vladimir Kramnik won a reunification match with FIDE champion GM Veselin Topalov. It is interesting to note that during this match, both players were basically champions, so it may not count towards the instances of a world championship match without a defending champion.

Fast forward to the present, Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi are set to battle it out in the 2023 World Chess Championship for the world championship title. With no defending champion to face, the competition will be even more fierce as the two Grandmasters aim to make their mark in chess history.


4. Nepomniachtchi's 2nd Shot in a Row

Nepomniachtchi's journey to the 2023 World Chess Championship has been an interesting one. In 2021, he challenged the then-reigning champion, Magnus Carlsen, for the title, but lost the match prematurely. Despite this setback, Nepomniachtchi persevered and worked hard to get back to the same position. In the 2022 Candidates tournament, he impressed the chess world by finishing 1.5 points ahead of the runner-up and his future opponent, Ding Liren.

Nepo vs Carlsen - Wikipedia Image

Having played in the previous championship, Nepomniachtchi will have the advantage of experience going into this match. He will be familiar with the pressures and nerves that come with playing for the world championship title. With his improved skills and experience, Nepomniachtchi may be able to mount a more formidable challenge against Ding Liren and clinch the title.


5. Ding Liren is China's First-Ever World Championship Contender

Coming from China, Ding Liren holds numerous records, including being the highest-rated Chinese chess player in history and the first Chinese player ever to pass the 2800 Elo mark on the FIDE world rankings. In July 2016, Ding made headlines for becoming the highest-rated blitz player in the world with an impressive rating of 2875.

Thanks to his many achievements, Ding has been considered a formidable opponent for Magnus Carlsen. At the 2019 Sinquefield Cup, he became the first player since 2007 to defeat the Norwegian champion in a playoff. However, Ding's journey to the World Championship match has been marked with unexpected events and setbacks.

In September 2017, Ding became the first Chinese player to qualify for a Candidates Tournament and placed 4th with 1 win and 13 draws, making him the only candidate without a loss at the event. In October 2019, Ding qualified for the Candidates Tournament 2020-21 by finishing in 2nd place in the World Cup for the second time in a row and was considered a favorite in the tournament. However, he had a poor start, ultimately finishing in a tie for 5th and 6th place.

Only after Sergey Karjakin was disqualified from the Candidates Tournament 2022, Ding received another chance to qualify for the World Championship title. Thanks to the Chinese Chess Association organizing additional events, Ding completed the minimum games requirement for qualification and finished second in the Candidates' tournament with a record of four wins, eight draws, and two losses. Now, Ding will finally have the opportunity to compete for the title and potentially make history as China's first World Chess Champion.



The upcoming World Chess Championship match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren promises to be a thrilling battle between two highly-skilled Grandmasters. With Nepomniachtchi seeking redemption after his previous loss to Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren aiming to make history as China's first World Chess Champion, the stakes could not be higher.

As we await the start of the match, why not keep your chess skills sharp by trying to solve puzzles from the previous Candidates Tournament?

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