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Ding Liren becomes world chess champion after beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in enthralling finale

<i>Stanislav Filippov/AP</i><br/>China's Ding Liren plays against Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi during their tiebreaker of FIDE World Chess Championship in Astana
AP
Stanislav Filippov/AP
China's Ding Liren plays against Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi during their tiebreaker of FIDE World Chess Championship in Astana

By Aimee Lewis, CNN

The final day of the World Chess Championship was always going to be a nervy affair, but few could have predicted just how tense the battle would be.

After the classical section of the tournament ended 7-7 after 14 games, the championship between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren went to tiebreaks.

In the fourth and final rapid tiebreak game Sunday in Kazakhstan, it was Ding who was victorious, winning the rapid tiebreak by 2.5 points to 1.5 to become China’s first world chess champion in the open category.

The 30-year-old is the highest-rated Chinese player in history and the chess world champions in both the open and women’s category now come from China.

Ding’s victory ends the reign of five-time champion Magnus Carlsen, who had decided not to defend his title.

In fact, the world No. 3 was only in the championship because Carlsen had said last July he would not compete in the the World Championship, which put Ding, runner-up in the Candidates tournament — an event which determines who challenges the reigning world champion — in line for a world title shot.

“The moment Ian resigned the game was a very emotional moment, I cannot control my feelings,” Ding told reporters, according to Reuters.

It is the second world championship loss Nepomniachtchi has suffered. The Russian lost to Carlsen in his only other championship appearance.

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