The Nepo Shuffle -- The 2021 World Chess Championship

Bread of Yaz

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I've just been assuming that Nepo was a foregone conclusion. As rough as the last one was for him, I just don't think there's any substitute for the experience that he got. There were some epic games in a championship environment against the best player in the world. There were two ways he could have gone -- he could have folded and decided that it just wasn't worth the effort of getting back up to the top or he could have doubled his efforts.

Once he blitzed through the candidates, it was clear that it was his to lose. Even if Carlsen had played I think Nepo would have had a decent chance. He was just super motivated to get back.

Ding admitted after game 1 that his mind wasn't right. I think he's completely fucked. Wouldn't be surprised if this were over by game 12.
Ding is amazingly strong. He suffered during COVID from Chinese travel restrictions and I would chalk yesterday up to rust. I still expect a dog fight.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Nepo with a howler allowing an exchange sac that even I could see and gets blown off the board. Ding not dead yet.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Wow. Ding follows a bad loss with a crushing win, as Nepo was uncomfortable playing positionally on the black side of a London. Four decisive results so far and hard to say how this will end up.
 

Mr Jums

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I was thinking the same thing yesterday. Magnus has that discipline where he is so good at just waiting and grinding it out and accepting draw after draw waiting for a mistake and then capitalizing on it. It's probably optimal strategy but from a drama standpoint this is a lot more fun to follow.
 

Ed Hillel

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The chess has been great, but I wish they’d ban the London for an entire match at some point. Show me some Sicilian and Caro action!
 

SumnerH

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The chess has been great, but I wish they’d ban the London for an entire match at some point. Show me some Sicilian and Caro action!
Disagree. The London is only drawish in inept hands, but when GMs and even feisty IMs play it it's every bit as trappy and aggressive as other openings.

Eric Rosen has some great videos on it on his own channel and the St Louis Chess Club channel, and Magnus has some beautiful attacking London games.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think things like the London may be good for this match. Ding seems better at calculation. And also a little more willing to wing it a bit. And Nepo when out of preparation can go on tilt a bit.
 

CFB_Rules

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Ding has alternated from mental titan to completely collapsing throughout this whole match. What the hell was that today.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Ding has alternated from mental titan to completely collapsing throughout this whole match. What the hell was that today.
A strange meltdown. Nepo was pressing on the kingside of a French in a very sharp position. Ding defended actively and accurately for about ten moves, then made a really nice exchange sac and had the advantage. He then froze at about move 30, used up about 80% of his remaining time and left himself with under a minute on the clock, and made a howler with Rd2.
 

Ed Hillel

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Ding literally froze and clammed up, that was tough to watch. It was like Chuck Knoblauch, and now you have to wonder about his mindset moving forward. Though he’s bounced back before.

Magnus would crush either of these guys, based purely on temperament. He’s Federer mentally.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Ding literally froze and clammed up, that was tough to watch. It was like Chuck Knoblauch, and now you have to wonder about his mindset moving forward. Though he’s bounced back before.

Magnus would crush either of these guys, based purely on temperament. He’s Federer mentally.
He has crushed one of them already
 

Ed Hillel

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Looks like the winfest is over, with a drawn endgame on the board. Ding had an opportunity he missed during the game, apparently. Just tuning in now, looks like opening was Nimzo-Indian…what is this Ra2? Never seen it.

Edit - Literally shook hands and agreed as I hit post. Draw it is.
 
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Bread of Yaz

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Looks like the winfest is over, with a drawn endgame on the board. Ding had an opportunity he missed during the game, apparently. Just tuning in now, looks like opening was Nimzo-Indian…what is this Ra2? Never seen it.

Edit - Literally shook hands and agreed as I hit post. Draw it is.
What a wild, incredible game. Ding played in a creative, enterprising, and attacking way and was full on winning twice. Apparently time trouble bit him again. That will be his undoing.
 

Ed Hillel

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Just saw it now, that was a crazy game! The non-perpetual line was insane, no human could have calculated that in the time Ding had. But Rd3-h3 is something you’d expect him to have seen, especially after the cold blooded Rd2.
 

Jnai

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Any chance Nepo goes in the first round tomorrow? Guy can make all the throws.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Any chance Nepo goes in the first round tomorrow? Guy can make all the throws.
Hah. This match is showing why the greatest champions (Gary, Fischer, Carlsen) were so great: nerves of steel and calmness under pressure. These two are enterprising but both melt in critical moments
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I don’t know that Nepo really was in as commanding a position to win as the various blogs are suggesting for the reversal of fortune narrative. Maybe he was, but there were a lot of pieces left on the board and Ding had the time and resources to churn out a draw.

Still, a half point there with black would have put Nepo pretty close to dormie. What an epic blunder. We will see if he stays on tilt tomorrow.

This match is not doing much to ensure the winner is viewed as the true champion in Carlsen’s absence. Pretty bad chess being played.
 

Ed Hillel

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It was a lot tougher position than the eval bar would have us all believe, but b4 was an unnecessary move that led to unneeded complications for black. A6 was a very simple and easy move that I think would have revealed the problem with white’s position naturally.

B4 was still winning, but it requires extensive analysis that seemed unnecessary, especially with something like 35 minutes left for 10 moves.
 
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DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I almost feel like they should turn down the depth that the engine is analyzing in the games that are using the bar during living broadcasts. A 3800 level engine is not really adding information. If the engine sees a forced mate in 14, which involves a queen sacrifice and allowing a pawn to promote because the promoted queen will be blocked from giving check by a random pawn nobody is thinking about, is it really appropriate to show viewers an off the charts advantage?
 

Jnai

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But at the end of the day, even if the win is extremely hard to find, all Nepo needs to do is draw in a game that has very good drawing chances. And instead he plays a move that basically loses on the spot, and not to some complicated thing that requires 14 moves of calculations, just a very natural and obvious follow-up.

What a truly strange player that seems completely undeserving of the title, even if he still has pretty good chances to win.
 

CFB_Rules

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But at the end of the day, even if the win is extremely hard to find, all Nepo needs to do is draw in a game that has very good drawing chances. And instead he plays a move that basically loses on the spot, and not to some complicated thing that requires 14 moves of calculations, just a very natural and obvious follow-up.

What a truly strange player that seems completely undeserving of the title, even if he still has pretty good chances to win.
He’s just super volatile. When he’s at his best he’s better than anyone. He completely dominated the candidates. He has a great record vs Magnus. But he can go up in flames at any moment.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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But at the end of the day, even if the win is extremely hard to find, all Nepo needs to do is draw in a game that has very good drawing chances. And instead he plays a move that basically loses on the spot, and not to some complicated thing that requires 14 moves of calculations, just a very natural and obvious follow-up.

What a truly strange player that seems completely undeserving of the title, even if he still has pretty good chances to win.
Agree. He needed a draw with the white pieces and somehow barfed all over himself when a win seemed possible. You don't need a status bar to see that.

I was just reacting to the point that everyone seems to be making online that he turned victory in the game into defeat. Even with an advantage early, draw was still a very likely result.
 

Ed Hillel

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Agree. He needed a draw with the white pieces and somehow barfed all over himself when a win seemed possible. You don't need a status bar to see that.

I was just reacting to the point that everyone seems to be making online that he turned victory in the game into defeat. Even with an advantage early, draw was still a very likely result.
After a6, I think a GM wins that position for black 90+% of the time, especially top 10 players. White's attack had failed, it was too slow, and his king was exposed. Black had two advanced pawns on the queenside to white's 1 (or 3-2 if white keeps the tension and doesn't capture), which was going to create a decisive passed pawn. Certainly a draw should be the absolute floor there. White had one threat (the vulnerable A1-H8 diagonal), and it was not only transparent, it was easily defensible with a simple pawn push.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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After a6, I think a GM wins that position for black 90+% of the time, especially top 10 players. White's attack had failed, it was too slow, and his king was exposed. Black had two advanced pawns on the queenside to white's 1 (or 3-2 if white keeps the tension and doesn't capture), which was going to create a decisive passed pawn. Certainly a draw should be the absolute floor there. White had one threat (the vulnerable A1-H8 diagonal), and it was not only transparent, it was easily defensible with a simple pawn push.
I'll have to take your word for it, because I'm not good enough to say one way or the other. It sounds like Fabiano Caruana agrees though he's like the nicest guy and so isn't coming right out and saying it.
 

Ed Hillel

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What in the hell was Re5 by Ding? One of the most bizarre high level moves I can remember. Anyway, here we go...Ding with white all tied up last game on Saturday!
 

Mr Jums

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It'll be interesting if they draw and go to the tie-breaker. Assuming it's still rapid, it looks like Ding is the higher rated rapid player (2829 to 2761) whereas classical Ian is ever so slightly higher rated (2795 to 2788) per chess.com. Which I can see how that makes sense, the quicker pace prevents Ding from paralysis by analysis and I could see how more time pressure could lead to Ian blunders.

I'm torn, I sort of want Ian to win because when he plays his best he is so stupidly good plus the redemption arc after his blow up last championship. But man, he had it in game 12 and blew it, and bad Ian just does some stupid shit. And I can't really root against Ding, so...

I have a feeling it's going to tie breaker but we'll see!
 

CFB_Rules

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I’m rooting for Ian solely because I think Ding winning cheapens the title even further than Magnus abstaining.

He didn’t qualify to the candidates. He got a seat solely because Karjakin is an idiot and was DQ’d. Even then he didn’t have the prerequisites to qualify by rating, and had to farm games and rating at chess tournaments created for the sole purpose by the Chinese Federation to get him to qualify.

And then he finished 2nd in the Candidates when everyone else was playing risky lines trying to get to 1st, since at the time everyone thought that was the only prize that mattered. Fabiano has gone on record saying that he thought there was zero chance second place would matter and would have been much more conservative playing Ian if he knew it would.

If Ding wins the title because Magnus is bored and Ian completely implodes it would really tarnish the title in my eyes. Even Ian being Champion is a joke, but he at least dominated in order to get there and earned a shot.
 

Ed Hillel

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Position here is dead drawn, here come the playoffs!

I can’t find the scheduling on that, is it tomorrow?
 

Ed Hillel

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Omg

Ding played amazingly clutch at the end there, but Nepo really just blew a drawn position.
 
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DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Nepo took a chance to avoid the draw and go for a win with Ding under time pressure, and Ding found the only move to save it — a brilliancy computer move in ten seconds. That gave him the chance later. Nepo offered a draw by repetition and probably was already mentally thinking about blitz, but when Ding chose to keep playing Nepo couldn’t recover. Crazy stuff.
 

limkangyoung

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Nepo took a chance to avoid the draw and go for a win with Ding under time pressure, and Ding found the only move to save it — a brilliancy computer move in ten seconds. That gave him the chance later. Nepo offered a draw by repetition and probably was already mentally thinking about blitz, but when Ding chose to keep playing Nepo couldn’t recover. Crazy stuff.
Yes, it was the best final in 20 years. It was hard to watch the dream die in Nepo's eyes. It was tough, but Ding absolutely deserved it.
 

Ed Hillel

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Gonna pump myself up here, but I've FINALLY achieved a personal milestone, hitting 2000+ in 5 min blitz on chess.com. I've flirted with it repeatedly in the past, including getting into the 1990s on multiple occasions only to choke it away the one game I needed, but I just took down a 1970 with the Caro Kann Exchange variation as a 1996 to break the hump to 2003. Now I kind of want to just retire the account, but given the curse we all have, I must now aim for 2100.

Sorry again for the self-aggrandizement, I'm just feeling chipper atm.
 

SumnerH

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Gonna pump myself up here, but I've FINALLY achieved a personal milestone, hitting 2000+ in 5 min blitz on chess.com. I've flirted with it repeatedly in the past, including getting into the 1990s on multiple occasions only to choke it away the one game I needed, but I just took down a 1970 with the Caro Kann Exchange variation as a 1996 to break the hump to 2003. Now I kind of want to just retire the account, but given the curse we all have, I must now aim for 2100.

Sorry again for the self-aggrandizement, I'm just feeling chipper atm.
Nice, that's a fine achievement!
 

StupendousMan

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Gonna pump myself up here, but I've FINALLY achieved a personal milestone, hitting 2000+ in 5 min blitz on chess.com. I've flirted with it repeatedly in the past, including getting into the 1990s on multiple occasions only to choke it away the one game I needed, but I just took down a 1970 with the Caro Kann Exchange variation as a 1996 to break the hump to 2003. Now I kind of want to just retire the account, but given the curse we all have, I must now aim for 2100.

Sorry again for the self-aggrandizement, I'm just feeling chipper atm.
Congratulations!
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Gonna pump myself up here, but I've FINALLY achieved a personal milestone, hitting 2000+ in 5 min blitz on chess.com. I've flirted with it repeatedly in the past, including getting into the 1990s on multiple occasions only to choke it away the one game I needed, but I just took down a 1970 with the Caro Kann Exchange variation as a 1996 to break the hump to 2003. Now I kind of want to just retire the account, but given the curse we all have, I must now aim for 2100.

Sorry again for the self-aggrandizement, I'm just feeling chipper atm.
Thanks for sharing and great job! Looking forward to hearing about 2100.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Gonna pump myself up here, but I've FINALLY achieved a personal milestone, hitting 2000+ in 5 min blitz on chess.com. I've flirted with it repeatedly in the past, including getting into the 1990s on multiple occasions only to choke it away the one game I needed, but I just took down a 1970 with the Caro Kann Exchange variation as a 1996 to break the hump to 2003. Now I kind of want to just retire the account, but given the curse we all have, I must now aim for 2100.

Sorry again for the self-aggrandizement, I'm just feeling chipper atm.
Awesome. Wonder if we have enough people to organize a little SOSH tournament on Chess.com?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Down to 4 in the World Cup. Assuming Carlsen is done competing for the world title (which he has reiterated) the other three remaining get tickets to the 2024 Candidates. Caruana and Pragg are the big names. Nijat Abasov is using some home country advantage to have a great tournament. Pragg held a draw and gets a chance to advance against Fabi tomorrow with the white pieces.

And nice going Ed.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Pragg beats Caruana. Pretty amazing final -- Chess's future against its present.

I get the sense that Carlsen loves Pragg, and so I suspect he'll be fired up for this final. I hope it's a good match. Glad that Fabi did enough to get to the Candidates.
 

coremiller

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This is also one of the few major titles that Carlsen has never won. That's another source of motivation.
 

Ed Hillel

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Pragg is a machine. I'd wager he'd beat Ding right now if they had a proper World Title match. If I could have picked a Finals I'd wanted to see before this started, this probably would have been it.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Father time held back at the gate for a little bit, but one thinks maybe Pragg's ascendance is inevitable. Carlsen gets an elusive trophy. It's already shaping up to be a great Candidates.

Carlsen had a bit of an easier road to the final than Pragg, who had an incredible tournament. I think the world cup may be my favorite pro chess event. It's an excellent tournament.