China's Ding Liren has become the new world champion after beating Grand Master Ian Nepomniachtch in a thrilling match in FIDE World Championship 2023. With this, he has become the first Grand Master from China who has won the chess world cup. Liren is the highest-rated chess player in the history of China and he rose to fame by becoming three times Chinese chess champion.
Liren's victory came after three weeks of slower-paced games that had failed to produce a winner, in a tense and dramatic rapid-play conclusion versus Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.
As a result, Liren became the first man from China, an emerging chess power, to hold the world championship, preventing Russia from recovering it. The decision of the title was through a tie-breaker round played in Astana which they had only 25 minutes to make their moves, plus an additional 10 seconds for each move played.
It was the fourth-game 13th move that gave Liren the upper hand. Nepomniachtch tried to trick Liren by making the game complicated, but this move went against him. He made critical errors and the game went in Liren's favor then.
Defeating Ian Nepomniachtch Ding Liren won the prize money of $1.1 million. The runner-up won $900,000. Late in the evening, Liren's victory sent shockwaves through Chinese social media, with a hashtag connected to the new champion fast garnering over 10 million views on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. After three anxious weeks, Chinese users welcomed the victory with pride and relief.
Born in 1992, it is not clear when Liren started playing professional chess, but in 2016 he became the highest-ranking Blitz player in the world. Currently ranked at No.2 in the world chess ranking he is the first player since 2007 who defeated Magnus Carlsen in a playoff.
Ding Liren's current victory has got a significant spotlight as Russians have traditionally ruled in the history of world chess championships. China on the other hand rarely showed interest in the game until the early 90s when Xie Jun won the world championship in 1991. It was after her historic win that the Chinese government started taking it seriously and opened several schools to learn chess. Last year, the Chinese government unveiled a new 10-year plan to develop the country's next generation of prodigies.