Ding Liren nears 2800 Elo, passes Kramnik

by André Schulz
5/26/2018 – Rounds five through seven of the Chinese League were held in Shenzhen this week. The team from Shanghai currently leads the league, but the performance of Ding Liren (who plays for Zheijang) has attracted attention. He has had a strong showing, winning all five of his games so far, and by beating Ivan Cheparinov in the seventh round he nudged up past Vladimir Kramnik to the fourth spot in the world rankings and is less than three Elo points shy of 2800. | Photo: qipai.org.cn

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Ding perfect in the Chinese League

The Chinese League takes place as a double-round-robin with twelve teams. The matches are played on five boards, of which two boards must be occupied by women. The rounds take place several at a time in one location, similar to those in the Austrian League or in the British 4NCL. 

For the most part, Chinese players take part, but there are also some guest players from other countries, though fewer than in the recently completed German League season. The China Mobile Shanghai Club includes the Indian stars Pentala Harikrishna and Harika Dronavalli. Ivan Cheparionov and Anna Ushenina play for Shenzhen. There is one Vietnamese player — Vo Thi Kim Phung — and several Russians: Dmitry Gordievsky is the only foreigner for Zhejiang, while Dmitry Andreikin (Chongqing), Dmitry Jakovenko, Olga Girya (Hangzhou), Vladimir Malakhov (Tianjin), Anastasia Bodanruk (Hebei) and Valentina Gunina (Chendu) are the other Russian grandmasters who play in the league.  

Gunina and Vallejo

Valentina Gunina and Francisco Vallejo-Pons both play for Chendu | Photo: www.qipai.org.cn

After the seven rounds played so far, the China Mobile Shanghai Club may be at the top of the table. Shanghai is led by GM Ni Hua and includes Ju Wenjun, the newly crowned Women's World Champion among their ranks. The team has been very consistent so far with Harikrishna scoring 6.0 / 7 and Ju Wenjun on one of the women's boards with 5½ / 7, the best female scorer. Shanghai has not lost a match yet, but lost one team point to Zhejiang and the weaker team from Tianjin at 2½ : 2½ each.

Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun | Photo: www.qipai.org.cn

In second place is the team of Shenzhen with 11 team points. Other than Cheparinov (now playing under a FIDE flag due to the sanctions against Bulgaria) and Ushenina, the team consists of relatively Chinese unknown players. Cheparinov, together with 26-year-old GM Liu Qingnan, are the top scorers with 5½ points. Anna Ushenina came only in the most recent three rounds and scored 2½ points. 

Next is Ding Liren's team from Zhejiang in third place. Behind Chinese number one, Lu Shanglei is the strongest and best-known player. Lu was the World Junior Champion in 2014 and the same year sensationally beat Magnus Carlsen in blitz. Also, Ding Yixin on the women's board has made a name for herself abroad, while the other players are internationally less well known.

Ding Liren has been used five times so far including in all three games this week. Cheparinov was his strongest victim.


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For the first time in the history of chess, the best Chinese player in the world ranking ahead of the best Russian. Ding's three wins this week earned him 6½ Elo points, moving him to 2797.5 and past Vladimir Kramnik in the live rankings. He is now number four in the world ranking behind Carlsen, Caruana and Mamedyarov.

Ding rarely loses games nowadays. According to the live database he has lost just one of 34 games (all time controls) this year, and only in rapid chess — in the friendly match China versus Russia, against Dubov. His last loss in a classical game dates back last September's World Cup final, when he lost to Levon Aronian.

Ding is set to start the Altibox Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger, where he will participate for the first time. If he does not lose a game there, he could climb further.

Standings after seven rounds

1 10 China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club 7 5 2 0 12 23,0
2 2 Shenzhen Longgang Chess association 7 4 3 0 11 22,0
3 6 Zhejiang Chess Team 7 4 2 1 10 19,5
4 9 Shandong Jingzhi Team 7 3 3 1 9 21,5
5 3 Beijing Beiao team 7 3 2 2 8 20,0
6 11 Chongqing Team 7 3 2 2 8 19,0
7 7 Hangzhou Bank Team 7 3 1 3 7 17,5
8 8 Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club 7 1 4 2 6 16,5
9 12 Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team 7 1 2 4 4 11,5
10 5 Tianjin Team 7 0 3 4 3 14,0
11 1 Hangzhou Turbine Team 7 1 1 5 3 13,0
12 4 Hebei sports lottery chess team 7 1 1 5 3 12,5

All results so far

Round 1 on 2018/04/11 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Hangzhou Turbine Team   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team :
2   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association   Chongqing Team :
3   Beijing Beiao team   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club 2 : 3
4   Hebei sports lottery chess team   Shandong Jingzhi Team ½ :
5   Tianjin Team   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club :
6   Zhejiang Chess Team   Hangzhou Bank Team :
Round 2 on 2018/04/12 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team   Hangzhou Bank Team 1 : 4
2   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club   Zhejiang Chess Team :
3   Shandong Jingzhi Team   Tianjin Team :
4   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club   Hebei sports lottery chess team 4 : 1
5   Chongqing Team   Beijing Beiao team :
6   Hangzhou Turbine Team   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association 1 : 4
Round 3 on 2018/04/13 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team :
2   Beijing Beiao team   Hangzhou Turbine Team 3 : 2
3   Hebei sports lottery chess team   Chongqing Team :
4   Tianjin Team   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club :
5   Zhejiang Chess Team   Shandong Jingzhi Team :
6   Hangzhou Bank Team   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club :
Round 4 on 2018/04/14 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club :
2   Shandong Jingzhi Team   Hangzhou Bank Team :
3   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club   Zhejiang Chess Team : ½
4   Chongqing Team   Tianjin Team 3 : 2
5   Hangzhou Turbine Team   Hebei sports lottery chess team :
6   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association   Beijing Beiao team :
Round 5 on 2018/05/22 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Beijing Beiao team   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team : ½
2   Hebei sports lottery chess team   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association 2 : 3
3   Tianjin Team   Hangzhou Turbine Team 2 : 3
4   Zhejiang Chess Team   Chongqing Team 3 : 2
5   Hangzhou Bank Team   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club :
6   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club   Shandong Jingzhi Team :
Round 6 on 2018/05/23 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team   Shandong Jingzhi Team ½ :
2   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club 3 : 2
3   Chongqing Team   Hangzhou Bank Team :
4   Hangzhou Turbine Team   Zhejiang Chess Team 1 : 4
5   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association   Tianjin Team 4 : 1
6   Beijing Beiao team   Hebei sports lottery chess team 4 : 1
Round 7 on 2018/05/24 at 13:00
No. Team Team Res. : Res.
1   Hebei sports lottery chess team   Guangdong Ding Xin High Tech Team 4 : 1
2   Tianjin Team   Beijing Beiao team :
3   Zhejiang Chess Team   Shenzhen Longgang Chess association :
4   Hangzhou Bank Team   Hangzhou Turbine Team 3 : 2
5   Chendu Beilei Youth Chess Club   Chongqing Team 3 : 2
6   Shandong Jingzhi Team   China Mobil Shanghai Chess Club :

The next four rounds take place from July 10th to 13th.

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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