I was watching Nepomniachtchi - Liren match on Chess24 Legends Day 2. After having a pretty significant advantage [+7.1 (Stockfish 11)], White [Nepo] has played g4, and according to the engine, the game could be drawn by something sort of perpetual checks or three-fold repetition,

g2-g4 move

Since after g5+, Kh5; Black can make his king pretty safe in the pawn structure and also its active queen bishop combo can neutralize white's attack by giving perpetual checks; so my question is:

What is the idea behind the move g4 in this situation?

  • 1
    What was the clock situation? It could be something along the lines of him just making the move based on pure intuition.
    – Scounged
    Jul 22, 2020 at 17:19
  • 1
    nepo had 7 min in the clock and liren had less than a min. So, there's nothing about time pressure. @Scounged Jul 22, 2020 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


First of all, I do not think Black's king would be safe at all on h5. After Kh5 simply Rd4 would threaten Bf3#. Many other concrete threats also come to mind with the king on h5, but the idea is the same: the king is one check away from checkmate, since no squares are available for him. Of course all of this is ignoring the fact that Black can force a draw.

I believe g4 is simply an overlook (yes, they happen in the elite too). Nepo was probably too enthusiastic about the threat of g5+ with all the subsequent mate threats after Kh5 that he overlooked the forced draw. So to answer your question: I think the idea behind g4 is simply to create a mating net against the enemy king. A strange overlook by such a strong player anyway.

  • I think you have forgotten the existed queen-bishop combo that black had. Rd4, Bf3# isn't possible at all. For example, 28. g4, Qb1+ 29. Ke2 Bb4 30. g5+ Kh5 31. Rd4 Qe1+ and there is no other interval to play Bf3#. Jul 22, 2020 at 18:08
  • 1
    That's actually what was played by Ding, I didn't miss it, I'm trying to explain what Nepo could have had in mind. That's why this was a blunder, because Nepo clearly overlooked Black's resources. But his idea has to have been to create a mating net with the motives I described, since there's no other purpose for g4.
    – lafinur
    Jul 22, 2020 at 18:17
  • But is it not quite peculiar with having almost 5 min time advantage in the clock and that massive positional advantage, one super gm just blundered away a clearly winning position without thinking next couple of moves? Jul 22, 2020 at 18:26
  • 3
    It is, yes, but there's no other explanation. I think yesterday or the day before Magnus Carlsen himself missed a simple forced checkmate against Giri and he had 2 minutes on the clock (time to spare to find a simple checkmate for not only a Super GM but the World Champion himself). They're humans, they make mistakes. Less frequently, but sometimes they do.
    – lafinur
    Jul 22, 2020 at 19:33

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