New Delhi: Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren played a short and calm draw and the score stands at 6-5 in favour of the Russian grandmaster after round 11. The players chose a threefold repetition in a rook ending to end the game on move 39, shook hands and called it a day. Nepomniachtchi had some advantage out of the opening but exchanging everything into the endgame meant he was happy with a draw.
Ian went for another Ruy Lopez with Ding opting for a Closed Martinez Variation. Both Ding and Nepo have played quite a few games in these structures of Ruy Lopez and with 15.Ng5, Nepo went on to pose some questions for his Chinese counterpart today. They faced each other in a similar line in the 2020 Candidates Tournament, which did not end well for Liren.
The advance of the horseys!
— lichess.org (@lichess) April 24, 2023
Ding’s reply to Ng5 was rather peculiar as he went for c4 with the idea of closing white’s light square bishop, but allowed Nepo to exchange his knight for black’s light square bishop, which in the future could have posed problems for black along the diagonal. A better move could have been Nc6 which takes the knight out of the queen’s attack and frees black’s queen from keeping an eye on it.
Nepo was pressing, before he decided to go 19.dxc4 and exchange everything to go into a rook ending with a pawn up. The rook endgame was a dead draw and the players decided not to waste much time. They drew the game to go for a rest day tomorrow.
With three games remaining in the match, Ding Liren has two games with white pieces to strike. In the last two games, Nepo has shown that he is satisfied to have draws and maintain his lead of one point to win the match without risking anything, so Ding might need some opening novelties to catch him out of preparation.