Chessable Masters: Ding knocks out Nakamura

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/30/2020 – Ding Liren will play Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals of the Chessable Masters after taking down Hikaru Nakamura in three sets. The Chinese ace had won the first set and, after losing the second mini-match in Armageddon, scored a convincing 2½:½ victory in Monday’s decider. The semis kick off on Tuesday. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Ding to face Carlsen in semis

World Champion Magnus Carlsen and eleven more of the world's best chess players are competing in the Chessable Masters by chess24, the third event in the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, taking place from June 20 to July 5.

Commentator Peter Svidler concluded that Ding Liren had given a masterclass in the third set of his quarterfinal matchup against Hikaru Nakamura. After drawing game 1 with white, the Chinese circumvented Nakamura’s attempts to create a fortress to win game 2 and finished the day early by defeating his opponent’s King’s Indian Defence in game 3. A clean 2½:½ victory to put an end to the match.

Ding’s next rival is none other than world champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen joined the commentary team on Monday, and said about Ding:

It’s gonna be tough obviously. [...] He’s shown in this tournament, and especially in this match, that he has got some serious positional chops — he can just run you over without giving you counterchances in a lot of games. He’s extremely strong of course.

Naturally, Ding’s win over Carlsen in the rapid playoffs of the 2019 Sinquefield Cup was brought up. Carlsen noted that the playoff had been played early in the morning — not his favourite time of day to play chess — while Ding needs to stay up late during this tournament, given the time-zone difference between Europe and China. The world champion quipped:

I had no chance at 10 o’clock in the morning. And this one...I guess I gotta drag the matches out to get it to midnight for him or even worse. That’s my best chance (smiles).

Having the strongest player in the world commenting on his colleagues’ games is certainly alluring for the fans, especially when he tells behind-the-scenes stories from recent chess history. While discussing the King’s Indian Defence that arose in game 3, Carlsen revealed that he had helped Vishy Anand’s team during their preparation for the 2008 World Championship match against Kramnik:

So Vishy was preparing 1.d4, and I was basically there just to play training games, which was extremely unpleasant in a sense, because I was told just to try everything against 1.d4, and he had prep everywhere obviously (laughs). I was told to play the King’s Indian and just try to mate him, so I do have some experience there.

As far as I can remember, the first two or three games against Vishy I just mated him on the kingside, and after that I lost every game basically, so my apetite for these particular positions waned a bit.

A striking revelation!

Returning to current events, the semifinals will begin on Tuesday. Carlsen vs. Ding and Nepomniachtchi vs. Giri will be played to the best of three sets.

Chessable Masters 2020

Ding 2½:½ Nakamura

Mini-match #3 Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Ding Liren ½ 1 1
Hikaru Nakamura ½ 0 0

Ding did not get much with white in game 1, but showcased his calculation skills while marshalling the black pieces in game 2:


During the webcast, Carlsen mentioned that he considered the contenders to have played too quickly out of the opening — and he seemed to be onto something, as Nakamura was already in trouble (despite playing white) in the diagrammed position. Ding went 28...Na2 and White responded with his best try: to give up his queen with 29.Rxa4 Rxb1.

An endgame with queen and two pawns against two pieces and three pawns was reached. At some point, it seemed like White had a real chance of putting up a fortress:


The commentators felt Nakamura could have done a better job from this point on, keeping his knight on g3-e5 instead of transferring it to f1-e3. Nevertheless, Ding never stopped putting pressure and was rewarded with a 63-move win.

‘Naka’ decided to go all out in game 3, playing what used to be his pet defence during his ascent to the chess elite, the King’s Indian. Ding employed his deep positional understanding to keep Black’s threats at bay and ended the match with a clean 41-move victory.


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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