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SportsDing Liren manages draw with Praggnanandhaa but remains winless in Norway Chess...

Ding Liren manages draw with Praggnanandhaa but remains winless in Norway Chess as concerns grow over defending champion’s confidence issues

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After four straight losses to start the prestigious Norway Chess tournament, defending champion Ding Liren of China was desperately in need of a positive result in Round 7 against rising Indian star Praggnanandhaa.

While the draw Ding managed to secure against the 18-year-old helped avoid extending his losing streak to five games, it did little to ease growing concerns about the form and confidence of the normally rock-solid Chinese GM.

Ding had opened up earlier in the year about battling depression since achieving the pinnacle of chess by winning the world title last year. And his play in Stavanger has done nothing to dismiss worries that he may still be working through some mental hurdles.

After working hard to wrestle the game to a draw in the classical format against Praggnanandhaa, Ding was unable to overcome his opponent in the ensuing tiebreak, losing the Armageddon game.

The defending champion acknowledged feeling depressed and exhausted after the encounter, saying it was “a very bad result” as he looks to find his best form in time for his upcoming title defense.

Fellow professionals and pundits have voiced their worries for Ding, with Poland's Monika Socko stating “it's not good to see someone who was at the top struggling so much” and grandmaster Susan Polgar suggesting it's a “five alarm emergency” for the Chinese star.

While Ding avoided outright defeat, his draw does little to improve an alarming tournament scoreline that has seen him plummet down the standings in Stavanger. With confidence clearly shaken, he has a battle ahead to rediscover the poise and precision that made him the number one player.

But with strong support from his peers and several rounds still to play, Ding will hope time away from the board during this week's rest day can help reset for the remainder of Norway Chess as he looks to end his winless run.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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