The World Chess Championship has reached a thrilling finale, with the title set to be decided Sunday by tiebreaks.
World No.2 Ian Nepomniachtchi and China’s Ding Liren were 6½-6½ going into Game 14 of the best-of-14 game series. A point for either player in the final classic game Saturday would have won them the championship.
But at the St Regis Astana Hotel, Kazakhstan, Ding managed to stop Nepomniachtchi from winning the championship with a 90-move escape. The scores remained level, at 7-7, after more than six hours at the board.
Four rapid tiebreaks will be played Sunday and if it’s still a tie blitz games will determine the winner. Rapid chess has the same rules as classical games, but players have less time to make their moves. In Sunday’s rapid playoff, there will be a time control of 25 minutes for each player, plus a 10-second increment per move.
If after four rapid games the championship is still tied, a two-game playoff with a time control of five minutes, plus three second per move, will be played, followed by another two-game playoff with the same time control if still level.
If the players still can’t be separated, games with a time control of three minutes for each player, plus two seconds per move, will be played until there is a result.
This World Championship is rather different to previous editions as Magnus Carlsen, the reigning champion, decided not to defend his title. American great Bobby Fischer was the last grandmaster to give up his world title in 1975.
In Carlsen’s absence, Nepomniachtchi has faced world No. 3 Ding, the highest-rated Chinese player in history, in a back-and-forth tussle.
Whoever wins, the sport will crown a first-time champion, with Ding a debutant and Nepomniachtchi losing to Carlsen in 2021 in his only championship appearance.
The championship will be broadcast live on Chess.com from 5 a.m ET Sunday.