Ding Liren and Hou Yifan in exhibition matches

by Macauley Peterson
7/25/2018 – Nikita Vitiugov defeated Hou Yifan by a 6½-3½ score in a Blitz Encounter in Russia as part of the ongoing Russia-China friendship series of events. Back in China, the injured Ding Liren seems to be making a smooth recovery and is already set to play a match with Veselin Topalov next month. Details on how he's been spending his time, and games from the Chinese League, which he had to miss. | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

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Russia-China: Friendship and blitz

The final four rounds of a traditional "Match of Friendship" between the youth teams of Russia and China (using a Scheveningen system with a time control of 5 minutes for the whole game plus 10 seconds per move) were staged at the Altai Resort in Belokurikha. The Russian schoolchildren won in all the age groups (with scores of 5:3, 6:2, 6½:1½, and 5½:2½) for a total score of 45½ : 18½. Stefan Pogosyan (FM 2356 born in 2004) showed the overall best result: 7½ points out of 8 games.

With that as a backdrop, former Woman's World Champion and current number one in the women's ranking, Hou Yifan, was invited to play a blitz match against Russian Grandmaster Nikita Vitiugov (currently number 7 in Russia and number 23 in the world). The two GMs played 10 games of blitz at a rate of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move, and Vitiugov won the match 6½-3½.

All games


The event was organised by the Russian Chess Federation and the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation with support from the Altai Region Administration and the Altai Region Chess Federation.

Ding Liren returns to competition

The Xinhua News Agency reports that Ding Liren will play a match against Veselin Topalov in his hometown of Wenzhou from August 10th to 14th. The Chinese number one has been on the mend since his bicycle accident in Norway on May 31st, which put him in the hospital with a hip fracture. Doctors recommended taking at least three months off from competition, which forced Ding to skip several scheduled events, but he is evidently well enough to return to the board after just ten weeks.

The two grandmasters will play four games with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, and the rest of the game in 30
minutes plus 30 seconds per move starting from the first move. The winner will receive USD $20,000 while the loser earns USD $10,000.

While recovering at home, the Chinese media reports, Ding has occupied himself reading books, watching the World Cup and maintaining a training routine to stay sharp. As for the football, he calls himself a "fake fan" — he was an early supporter of Italy, then switched to Argentina, but didn't have a great stake in the elimination rounds.

Ding at home with a friend

Ding sent us this snapshot while relaxing at home with a friend in mid-July

After a strong year — including a string of 78 undefeated classical games — Ding has been flirting with 2800, and is frustrated by this forced time out, but eager to get back into the swing of things in time to compete at the 40th Chess Olympiad.

The third leg of the National Chess League recently concluded in Jiaxing. Although Ding was unable to play, he followed the progress of his team Zhejiang closely and even assisted in coaching a bit.

Chinese League games (Rounds 9-11)



Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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