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Ding Liren of China Wins World Chess Championship


Chess is considered the ultimate game of cold, logical calculation, but it is also a game of passion and, at the highest level, of nerves. That was clear on Sunday when the world championship match in Astana, Kazakhstan, ended with Ding Liren, the new champion, sitting at a board by himself in a darkened theater, his head in his hand, crying tears of joy.

Ding’s victory came in a tense and gripping rapid-play finale against Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, and only after three weeks of slower-paced games that had failed to produce a winner. The result made Ding the first man from China, a rising power in chess, to hold the world championship, simultaneously preventing Russia from reclaiming it.

Ding’s match against Nepomniachtchi was decided in a series of four tiebreaker games made necessary after the regulation portion of the match, 14 grueling classical games, ended in a tie. Each player won three games in the regulation portion; the other eight ended in draws.

The tiebreakers, all played Sunday, were faster games in which each player had 25 minutes at the start, with 10 seconds added every move. The first three games were draws, but each one was highly tense and hard-fought.

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