Ding Liren on his way to the Candidates

by André Schulz
4/11/2022 – Ding Liren, currently the world's number three, has very good chances to play in the Candidates Tournament as the highest-rated, eligible player in FIDE’s ranking list published on 1 May. However, to qualify and to replace the suspended Sergey Karjakin, Ding needs to have played 30 FIDE-rated games from May 2021 to May 2022. When Karjakin was suspended by the FIDE for supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ding had just played four of the required 30 games, but now he is catching up: after a four-player, twelve-round tournament in Hangzhou, he played a six-game match against Wei Yi. After five draws, Ding won the last game and the match. | Photos: Imedia

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Ding wins match against Wei

The Corona pandemic has hindered Ding Liren's career. For a long time he has been one of the world's top players, and in the Candidates Tournament 2019-2021 he was one of the favourites. But the pandemic forced him to spend the two weeks before the beginning of the Candidates in quarantine and isolation in a cottage near Moscow, and he scored only 3.0/8 in the first part of the tournament. Then, after eight rounds, the tournament was suspended for more than a year, and Ding played much better in the second part of the tournament, scoring 4.0/8, but in the end he finished only fifth.

Ding was also supposed to take part in the Grand Prix series in Berlin and Belgrade. But the Chinese government is taking a very restrictive course to combat the pandemic, only allowing foreigners into the country under the strictest security precautions, and preferring not to let their own people out of the country at all. Ding received his exit permit too late to get an entry visa to Germany and could not play in Berlin.

During the second Grand Prix tournament in Belgrade, Russia invaded Ukraine, and on his Twitter channel Karjakin expressed solidarity with the Russian war. The FIDE Ethics Commission found that advocating a war of aggression was not in line with the ethical principles of the World Chess Federation and banned Karjakin from all official events for six months.

This meant that Karjakin could not take part in the Candidates Tournament in Madrid in June/July though he had qualified by becoming second in the World Cup. According to the rules, the player with the highest rating behind the already qualified players in the world's ranking list of May would replace Karjakin. Currently, Ding is third on the list, behind World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja who has already qualified for the Candidates. However, the player in question needs to have played at least 30 FIDE-rated games from May 2021 to May 2022. Ding had played only four games but the Chinese Chess Federation quickly organised a series of events to help Ding Liren reach the required number of games.

First Ding played in a twelve-round-four-player tournament in Hangzhou with three other Chinese players and took clear first with 10.5/12 while the three Chinese players all scored 4.5/12. They drew all their games against each other while Ding defeated each of them 3.5:0.5. Ding won ten Elo-points in this tournament and is currently the world's number two on the live-rating list.

This was followed by a six-game match against Wei Yi, also in Hangzhou. The first five games ended in a draw but then Ding won the sixth game and the match.

Finally, from 14 to 24 April Ding will take part in a ten games qualifying tournament for the 19th Asian Games and then he will have played enough games for the Candidates.





Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


Ding wins quadruple round-robin in Hangzhou

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


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