China’s Ding Liren has become the country’s first-ever world chess champion after beating Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi in a rapid-play tie-break match in Kazakhstan. The 30-year-old takes over the World Chess Championship title from Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, who chose not to defend his title after holding it for 10 years.
Both Ding and Nepomniachtchi finished on seven points each after 14 first-stage games, which included three wins each and eight draws, before moving to the tie-break stage in Astana. In the tie-break round, the players had 25 minutes to make their moves, with an additional 10 seconds for each move played.
Although Ding had played very little fast chess in official competitions since January 2020, he is rated higher than Nepomniachtchi in the faster formats of the game.
The $2.2m prize would have been split 60-40 between the winner and runner-up if the match had been decided in the initial 14-game series. However, because the match reached the tie-break stage, the prize money will be split 55-45.