One thing that surprised me in the World Championship match was Ding Lirin’s use of simple openings which shifted the emphasis of the struggle to the middle game. This is an approach I’ve long recommended to Tiger Chess students because it gives them time to study other important aspects of the game.
Two out of the fourteen games featured lines I’ve recommended, the first being game seven in which he played the French. In this game he played a line given in my course on this opening, the moves being 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6. Ding stood well in this game but was hesitant later on and lost. Perhaps it was a case of him having too little experience in this position type, something that I try to address with training tournaments on Lichess.
The second occasion was his surprising choice of the Colle System in game twelve, the opening moves being 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 c5 4.Nbd2. This is a line I give in the Building an Opening Repertoire course, designed for players under 1800 but evidently containing enough bite to be played at higher levels. Ding outplayed his opponent in the middle game and scored a victory which leveled the match. I hope that people will realize that they do not need to get on the theory bandwagon in order to play their games, they can just develop their pieces and apply good plans later on.
Here’s the final stage of the match in which Ding pins his own rook with …Rg6 with just a minute left on his clock: