Champions Showdown: Carlsen dominates Ding

by André Schulz
11/14/2017 – One match is still running at the Champions Showdown in St. Louis: Magnus Carlsen vs Ding Liren. In round three, on November 13, the World Champion and China's first World Championship Candidate had to play eight 10-minute games. Ding Liren started well but then suffered a debacle. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Champions Showdown, Day 5: Carlsen scores and scores and scores

The Champions Showdown began on November 9, but Carlsen and Ding Liren started their match two days later than the other six players because the World Champion was scheduled to play a handicap simul in Hamburg. But the longer Carlsen is in St. Louis the stronger he seems to play. The first three rapid games with a time-control of 30 minutes for the whole game ended in draws but then Carlsen won game four.

On the second day of the match Carlsen won three and drew three of the six games with a time-control of 20 minutes for the whole game. The third day of the match saw eight blitz games with a time-control of 10 minutes for the whole game. 

Magnus Carlsen vs Ding Liren | Photo: Lennart Ootes

After scoring his first win of the match in the first 10-minute game it seemed as if Ding Liren could bounce back. The Chinese number one had Black in a Sicilian Taimanov and convincingly outplayed the World Champion to reach a won endgame:


The Sicilian Tajmanov-Scheveningen

The Sicilian has been known for decades as the most reliable way for Black to obtain an unbalanced but good position. Among the most popular Sicilians at the top level the two that certainly stand out are the Najdorf and the Paulsen.


But then Carlsen hit back and won the next four games. 


Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


In game 3 Carlsen followed in the footsteps of Bobby Fischer by playing and winning a fine Kings Indian Attack against Ding Liren's Sicilian:


Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.

Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.


After Carlsen had gained the momentum everything went his way:


Ding Liren managed to draw game 6 but then Carlsen won games 7 and 8 to complete Ding Liren's debacle.

Magnus Carlsen vs Ding Liren | Photo: Lennart Ootes




Today, November 14, Ding Liren and Carlsen will finish the match with 12 games with a time-control of 5 minutes for the whole game. One can only hope that things go better for Ding Liren. After all, should the Chinese win the Candidates Tournament in Berlin in March 2018, memories of his blitz-debacle against Carlsen might turn out to be a heavy psychological burden when fighting for the World Championship.

But the Champions Showdown match is decided: after three days Carlsen leads by 50-18 and this is enough to win the match and the 60,000$ prize-money. Even if Ding Liren won all 12 blitz-games on the final day of the match he would not catch up to Carlsen.


On-demand playlist

Illustrating the effect of no increment time control, last week GM commentators Alejandro Ramirez and Christian Chrila played a trio of bullet games.

You can also find each days complete commentary in the playlist menu (click or tap the icon in the upper left of the video player).

2017 Champions Showdown playlist | Source: CCSCSL on YouTube

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Martas Martas 11/16/2017 01:30
ex0 - good that you mentioned Naka, I expect if he would do 1.5/8 against Carlsen in blitz, nobody would complain about usage of word debacle.
billiejean billiejean 11/15/2017 06:48
Carlsen's average rating (classical,rapid and blitz) is over 2900!!
Almost 100 points ahead of the field.
Magnus is phenomenal
ex0 ex0 11/15/2017 09:49
Completely agree with Aighearach. I'm pretty sure that this is a 'normal' result for Ding vs Carlsen, and everyone else would have also been crushed in similar fashion.. especially since this is a funny time control with no increment. As i said on chessgames forum;

"Also, Ding is rated 5th at blitz right now, with 2849, even above Naka who's 6th with 2843.

Guess what Carlsen is? These are his ratings(from live ratings)

Classical = 2837.0
Rapid = 2903.0
Blitz = 2974.0

In blitz, Carlsen is over 100 points higher than Aronian, who's 3rd with 2863, and Karjakin is second with 2889, close to 100 aswell..

And rapid? Carlsen is 70 points higher than second place, while Ding is actually 160(!!!) points below Carlsen!"

So 160 points below Carlsen with NORMAL increment.. 1.5 out of 8 or whatever seems normal, even above average for vs someone like Carlsen with no increment..
Offramp Offramp 11/15/2017 07:37
It was not a débâcle. It was an éboulement.
Martas Martas 11/14/2017 11:59
Aighearach - "any top player" has different meanings, top30, top5, top3. Your assessment is about any top30 player, but Ding Liren was 3rd in live blitz ranking before this match, last year he was even leading blitz ranking. So results like 1.5 / 8 is a debacle for him, even final 5 / 20 is close to it.
Btw. Magnus didn't pass 3000 in blitz rating only because last 13 blitz games were not rated.
redboot redboot 11/14/2017 10:45
I can't agree with your assessment of the author's use of the word "debacle". Ding started out well, but then went 1/2 : 6 1/2 in the last7 games. I've been around the block a few times in the English fluency department, and that's a debacle in my book. I'm sure no disrespect to Ding Liren was intended, nor do I intend any, but a debacle is a debacle.
Sampru Sampru 11/14/2017 10:32
To Aighearach, one of the definitions of debacle is "rout", which this match is. I believe the author is German, and the word "debakel" is almost certainly familiar to him. I refer readers to the Monty Python dead parrot skit.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/14/2017 09:51
That isn't what "debacle" means. If the world champion had lost with that score, it could be a debacle. But for the lower rated challenger to lose convincingly to the world's #1 is merely the expected result. Even if he lost a little worse than he'd like, it still isn't a debacle.

For the word "debacle" to apply, it would have to be a loss so bad that it made holding the event a scandal; for example if the match was against a 2600, that would be a "debacle." But losing to Magnus Carlsen doesn't do that; it is expected. Being outplayed by him is expected. Even if Ding Liren hadn't scored a single win, it would not be a debacle because that is within the expected range of outcomes when Magnus is playing a match. But Ding Liren did get a win, and so did well and proved he is as qualified as any of the other top players to sit across from the number one.

Using "debacle" here is significantly insulting to Ding Liren. In fact, the English fluency displayed by the author is a debacle!