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Is Ding Liren doomed in WCC 2024 after Norway Chess flop?

Ding Liren at Norway Chess 2024

Ding Liren lost to Magnus Carlsen at Norway Chess 2024 in shocking fashion, leading many to wonder if he has any chance of winning the World Chess Championship again.

As the reigning World Chess Champion, Ding Liren bears a heavy crown. The grandmaster’s skills in chess are undeniable, with an infamous undefeated streak in top-level chess that only Magnus Carlsen beat in 2019. However, the pressure of being world champion may be taking its toll.

Although Ding Liren undoubtedly achieved the title of World Chess Champion, many consider Magnus Carlsen’s forfeiture a disappointing end to the former champion’s reign. Still, Liren battled Ian Nepomniachtchi in 2023 in an impressively close battle for the world championship. However, Liren’s momentum may have stalled after a shocking loss to Magnus Carlsen during Norway Chess 2024, and it may foretell Carlsen.

Ding Liren blunders mate-in-two, resigns to Magnus Carlsen

Ding Liren suffered his fourth loss in a row at Norway Chess 2024 to Magnus Carlsen with a mate-in-two blunder.

The champion had a checkmate in the bag against Carlsen, but seemingly didn’t notice. During his fourth game at Norway Chess 2024, Liren was two moves away from victory but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

When Liren finally noticed the mistake, he silently resigned, surprising even Magnus Carlsen. At the top level of chess, both knew that loss in 30 moves was inevitable after that blunder.

“Obviously missing mate-in-two like that can only happen if you’re completely out-of-sorts,” stated Carlsen to Chess24. 

Unfortunately, Liren’s mental game has reportedly been off the entire tournament. Fellow grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura beat Ding Liren in 54 moves before the latter’s faceoff with Carlsen.

“At some point I was struggling to keep my composure because at some moment he started bouncing up and down, he was shaking, like literally shaking,” Nakamura said upon reflecting on the game.

Will Ding Liren still be World Chess Champion in 2024 after Norway Chess flop?

It’s unclear how Ding Liren will perform at the 2024 World Chess Championship, but opponents expressed concern over his play and mental state at Norway Chess.

Despite the string of losses, Ding Liren’s world championship won’t be threatened until the official tournament begins. Still, much can be said about the champion’s mental strength leading into the tournament.

Liren stated before Norway Chess 2024 began that his goal was to “not to finish in last place.” After four losses, and health issues earlier in 2024, Liren’s condition may not be the same as it was during his World Championship win. Regardless, chess fans have an intriguing year to look forward to. 

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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