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    Entries in Ding Liren (33)

    Tuesday
    Nov142017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 6: Carlsen Finishes off Ding Liren **UPDATED**

    The match had already been clinched, but it was necessary to play today's five-minute games as well. The wins-to-losses ratio was exactly the same as yesterday: Magnus Carlsen won six games and lost one, drawing the rest; the difference is that four more games were played today, which means that instead of only one draw today's action saw five of them.

    Oddly, after the first ten games (of twelve) today, Carlsen hadn't won a single one with the white pieces, while for Ding Liren the white pieces were even worse: he didn't score so much as a single draw. Finally both players' streaks came to an end in the last two games: Carlsen won game 11 with White and Ding drew game 12 in his last White game to finish off the match on a comparatively high note.

    Carlsen thus won today's action 17-7 (on the day's 2-1-0 scoring) and the match by a hefty 67-25 score. His play wasn't as impressive today - it was clear that they were playing five-minute chess and not "real" chess, and with the match already decided and no rating points on the line Carlsen's motivation probably declined at least somewhat compared to the previous days. Still, it was a good performance, and he'll be back in (blitz and bullet) action on Saturday against Wesley So in the last quarterfinal match of Chess.com's Speed Chess Championship.

    UPDATE: Having noted Carlsen's next event, I should also note that Ding Liren is playing in the final FIDE Grand Prix tournament, in Palma de Mallorca, on Thursday. (Unfortunately, the organizers' decision to accommodate Carlsen's schedule, starting their match two days later than the other three, leaves poor Ding all of one day - or half a day - to acclimate for a tournament seven time zones away. I'm sure Ding felt that it was a trade-off worth making, especially since he doesn't need the Grand Prix to qualify for the Candidates, he made $40k for his troubles, and received the [painful but useful] opportunity to play 30 games against the world champion. And he's probably right, but it's too bad that he had to make such a decision - especially since whatever Carlsen's other obligation was it wasn't playing in a chess tournament.)

    Also, a stat I intended to mention, but forgot: there were 120 games in total played in the four matches, and in the end Black had a plus score: 38 wins, 34 losses, and 48 draws. Perhaps there have been other elite events in the past with a comparable number of total games where Black outscored White, but I doubt that there are many of them. Maybe some database jockeys out there can find some examples?

    Tuesday
    Nov142017

    Scheduling Notification: The Last Day of the Champions Showdown Starts Now (Two Hours Early)

    If you want to watch the last day of the 2017 Champions Showdown in real time, featuring the 12 five-minute games between Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren, tune in now: they're starting two hours earlier than usual.

    Monday
    Nov132017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 5: Carlsen Obliterates Ding to Win the Match

    Is "obliterates" too strong a word? If so, then just barely. Ding Liren won the first of today's 10-minute games, playing terrific chess, and then he scored just half a point in the remaining seven games. Ding is a candidate, the #10 player in the world, a former blitz #1 and the #3 player at the start of the match. No matter: after his one win Carlsen won the next four, and after a draw finished with two more wins.

    It was just an awesome performance by the world champion, who clinched match victory with a day to go and pushed his blitz rating to a crazy 2974. It's not so unusual to read something like that in the context of nine round round-robins, but in this case there are 12 games left. Again, no matter: with his insane 19.5-4.5 victory today his overall score is 50-18; he in fact clinched victory with his win in today's penultimate game.

    Apparently tomorrow's games won't be rated - FIDE's rule is that match games played after one side has clinched victory won't be rated, so the only question is whether either player will demonstrate much intensity or motivation tomorrow. It's amazing that as bad as the Nakamura-Topalov beatdown was - expectedly - this was even more decisive. Incredible. It will be interesting to see if Carlsen can carry over this form to the next Grand Chess Tour event, when the players return to classical time controls. If so, he may yet be able to make a run at 2900.

    Monday
    Nov132017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 4: Americans Sweep; Carlsen Crushing

    It was a great day for the American players, who rolled on to victory. Hikaru Nakamura was always going to win against Veselin Topalov, entering the final day with a big lead and an overwhelming favorite in the blitz. To no one's surprise - including Topalov's - he finished like a hammer, winning nine games and drawing three. The scoring in the blitz was 2-1-0, so he won the session 21-3 and won overall by a ridiculous 61.5-30.5 margin. All the matches have a $100,000 prize fund split 60-40, so Nakamura won $60,000 to Topalov's $40,000.

    In the other two matches, the Americans continued the comebacks they had started at the end of day 3. Fabiano Caruana had won three games followed by a draw at the end of the previous day to close to within four points, and on day 4 he won, drew, and won again to equalize the scores. Having done so, Grischuk enjoyed his one bright spot when he won the fourth game - and even that took a lot of help: Caruana made a fingerfehler in the opening to lose a pawn, and when Caruana fought back to a drawn position he made two further errors to lose the game. But that was the end of his good news: in the last eight games the pattern kept repeating: a draw followed by a Caruana win. In all, Caruana won six games, lost just one, and drew five. He won the session 17-7 and the match 49-43.

    Wesley So likewise continued his great comeback. He had won the last three games on day 3, and although he was still down seven points he too overcame his deficit. He won his first two games, drew, and won two more games to take the lead. The rest of the way the play was closer, but So never surrendered his lead. Overall he went +7-2=3, winning the section 17-7 and the match 47.5-44.5.

    Finally, the world champion proved his greatness yet again. Magnus Carlsen dominated Ding Liren in the g/20 portion of the match, winning three games and drawing three. As you may recall, Carlsen led 12.5-7.5 after the first day, and with each of the 20-minute games weighted on a 4-2-0 basis he took day 2 18-6 and leads the match 30.5-13.5 going into the 10-minute games, which will start momentarily.

    Congratulations to the Americans...and probably to Carlsen too, barring a quasi-miracle.

    Saturday
    Nov112017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 3

    It was a good day for the underdogs/those who were trailing, as none of them lost ground on their opponents - though in every case they started off on the wrong foot.

    Thus Veselin Topalov started off with a loss as Black against Hikaru Nakamura, but struck back in the next game. The same pattern happened in the next two games, with first Nakamura and then Topalov again winning with Black. The last two games were drawn, and so while they split the 10-minute games 4-4 (or rather, 12-12 on the 3-1.5-0 scoring used for the 10-minute portion of the match) Nakamura keeps his hefty overall lead, 40.5-27.5 going into the last day.

    Fabiano Caruana came into the day four points behind Alexander Grischuk - the difference provided by the latter's win in the final game in the g/20 portion of the match. It looked like it was about to become a blowout in the g/10 after Grischuk scored 3.5 points in their first four games, thanks in part to his own successful play but also due to some egregious blunders by Caruana. But Caruana righted the ship, winning three games in a row before drawing the last game, so Grischuk maintains his 4-point lead (36-32) heading into the finale.

    Wesley So came into the day with a significant deficit against Leinier Dominguez, and after four draws and a loss in the game/10 portion it looked like the match was as good as over. But not yet! So won the last three games of the day, and trails 37.5-30.5.

    Sunday's action comprises 12 five-minute games, each worth two points (2-1-0 scoring), so none of the matches have been clinched yet (though Topalov's chances of coming back are extremely low).

    The fourth match started today, and will continue through Tuesday: Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren. They played four 30-minute games, drawing the first three before Carlsen won and took the lead in game four. Carlsen had White in games 1 and 3, but should have lost that first game. He was bailed out, and then Ding was bailed out in game 3 when he too was entirely lost. Carlsen's win in game 4 was impressive, pressuring his opponent in a nominally equal ending until he broke. Following the pattern of the earlier matches, they will play six 20-minute games tomorrow.

    Saturday
    Nov112017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 2

    Some interesting chess is being played, but the quality of the games is decreasing as the time control gets shorter, thanks especially to the lack of increment. The last rounds were particularly horrible: in their penultimate game Dominguez beat So in a time scramble where So was better on the board and on the clock, but Dominguez moved faster, and both sides engaged in quasi-illegal to illegal behavior (because the board and pieces are slick enough to host a mini-curling match, the pieces rarely wound up where they were supposed to; additionally, Dominguez made two-handed captures, which is certainly against FIDE's rules, as we learned from a Nakamura game back in 2016, if I recall correctly). And in the final round Caruana left his queen en prise in a winning position (and with some time on his clock!), while Topalov failed to defeat Nakamura despite having an extra piece.

    One thing that has been instructive, from a chess point of view, is that we've repeatedly seen (both days) that the anti-Berlin plan of playing 4.d3, taking on c6, and then mounting a kingside attack with castling queenside and playing g4 is surprisingly toothless. And there have been other interesting opening ideas as well. But the lack of time, and probably some fatigue as well, is spoiling the games and severing the logical connection of what's happening during most of the game and its final result.

    Anyway, here are the results: Nakamura won two games and drew four against Topalov, which meant that he went 16-8 in this section on the 4-2-0 scoring. Since he led after the first day 12.5-7.5, his overall lead is 28.5-15.5.

    Grischuk went +2-1=3 against Caruana, winning the day 14-10. They split on day one, so Grischuk has a narrow 24-20 lead overall.

    Dominguez went +3-1=2 against So. Thus, like Nakamura, he won the day 16-8, and since he - again like Nakamura - went 12.5-7.5 the first day he likewise leads overall with a 28.5-15.5 score.

    Today there will be eight rounds of game/10 with the same pairings, and it is also the first day of Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren, who will contest four g/30s.

    The action starts in 20 minutes or so (2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. local time in St. Louis).

    Wednesday
    Nov082017

    2017 Champions Showdown Starts Tomorrow/Today (Thursday)

    St. Louis is the entertainment capital of the chess world, and their latest offering is a new edition of the Champions Showdown. It is a vehicle for the United States's Big Three, and in addition there's the biggest of the big: the World Champion. Each of the four - champ Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Hikaru Nakamura - will play 30 games, and none against each other. Instead, they are matched up as follows:

    • Hikaru Nakamura vs. Veselin Topalov
    • Fabiano Caruana vs. Alexander Grischuk
    • Wesley So vs. Leinier Dominguez
    • Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren

    The first three matches start tomorrow/today (Thursday) at 1 p.m. local time (= 2 p.m. ET), while the last one starts on Saturday. Correspondingly, the first three matches end on Sunday, while Carlsen and Ding will keep us entertained through Tuesday.

    The time controls will drop as the matches go on: Day 1 will see four g/30s, day 2 six g/20s, day 3 offers eight g/10s, and the final day will have 12 five-minute games.

    Each match has its own $100,000 prize fund, with a 60-40 split for the winner and loser, respectively.

    Predictions? I expect Carlsen to win his match comfortably, Nakamura to crush Topalov, and Grischuk to defeat Caruana. So-Dominguez feels like a coin flip to me, but I'll trust So to play enough like his peak self of 2016 to pull it off.

    Wednesday
    Nov082017

    Ding Liren Wins a Brilliancy

    The European Team Championship was the big event of the past couple of weeks, but it wasn't the only place where elite players were in action. And were there any games in the ETC that could match this one? Please, do not skip this post!

    Tuesday
    Oct242017

    Coming Attractions: The Champions Showdown in St. Louis

    Here's the press release from the Saint Louis Chess Club:

    SAINT LOUIS, October 23, 2017 — The Saint Louis Chess Club will host a series of four matches, the Champions Showdown, November 9-14. In an exciting twist, the three top American players and current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, will face their opponents in 10 games of rapid and 20 games of blitz. Tournament play will begin November 9 at 1 p.m., with World Champion Magnus Carlsen and No. 1 Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren beginning November 11 at 1 p.m.

    The match-ups include Fabiano Caruana (USA) vs. Alexander Grishchuk (Russia); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) vs. former World Champion Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria); and reigning U.S. Chess Champion Wesley So (USA) vs. Leinier Dominguez (Cuba). These matches will be held November 9th through 12th.

    For the first time in recent history, each match will feature play with no delay or increment, meaning the games will be faster and more exhilarating for fans to watch, both online and in person at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Each day the games will be faster with less time on the clocks.

    “We were looking for something special for some of the world’s top players to come to Saint Louis in November,” said Tony Rich, Executive Director of the Saint Louis Chess Club. “With no time increments or delay, we believe this will be one of the most watched and exciting set of matches of the year.”

    For a complete schedule and to watch live, visit uschesschamps.com. The matches will be broadcast live at 1 p.m., CDT, with the final day starting at 11 a.m.

    Saturday
    Sep302017

    Ding Liren Profile

    It's not exactly a biography or an exposé, but given how little-known Ding Liren is to most of us in the west, it's nice to know a little more about him.