Prague: Ding, Ding, Ding

by André Schulz
6/20/2019 – From June 16th to 19th, Prague hosted a chess festival featuring two attractive rapid matches: David Navara played against Ding Liren, and chess legend Jan Timman fought Thai Dai Van Nguyen, the best Czech junior. Both matches ended 7:3 with Ding and Nguyen dominating the final day of action to emerge victorious. Here are the highlights. | Photos: Prague Chess Society

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Ding and Nguyen win

The focus of the Prague Chess Festival this year was the match of David Navara against Ding Liren. For many years the Czech number one has faced a world-class international player in Prague each June. The Chinese number one had already been invited last year but the match was postponed (and Harikrishna played instead) following Ding's bicycle accident and subsequent hospitalization during the 2018 Norway Chess tournament.

In parallel, the Prague Chess Society arranged for the top Czech junior, GM Thai Dai Van Nguyen to play against the Dutch veteran Jan Timman. Both matches were packaged into a festival program including exhibitions and simultaneous events.

In both competitions, ten rapid chess games were played, three each on the first and last day and four on the second day.

Playing hall with both matches

Ding vs Navara and Timman vs Nguyen

Final match results


Ding Liren was able to take the lead by beating David Navara in the second game.


With 39.f6! White obtained a winning position. Things would have been less clear after 39.♔f4 f6 40.♔xg4.

On the second day of the competition between Navara and Ding all four games ended in a draw, but the two grandmasters produced some exciting tactical fireworks.


Play through the moves on the live diagram

White has just grabbed a pawn on c6. Black now started with tactical finesse: 15...c3 16.c2 (or 16.dxc3 ♛xc6 17.♕c2 with slight White advantage) 16...a5 (After 16...♛xc6 17.♗b4 White stays up a healthy pawn. ) 17.e7 (White also retaliates with a tactical trick.) 17...xa2 (17...♝xe7 18.♕xc3 is again good for White.) 18.xa2 xe7 19.b5 d6 20.d4 d7 21.a4 (Taking on d7 was better.) 21...xb5 22.xb5 (22.♕xb5 was preferable) 22...e5 (Underestimating 22...♕d3, with a strong initiative, e.g. 23.♕c4 ♝f8 24.f3 ♜ab8.) 23.c4 b4 24.xc7 xd2+ 25.f1 (Taking on d2 is impossible: 25.♔xd2 ♛b2+ 26.♔d1 ♜ad8+ 27.♖d4 ♜xd4+ 28.♕xd4 ♛xb3+ 29.♔e2 ♛c2+ 30.♔f1 ♛xc7 31.g3 and Black wins with the a-pawns.) 25...h5 (threatening mate on d1) 26.a1 ad8 27.xe8 c3 (Black still has arrows in the quiver) 28.xc3 d1+ 29.e1 d5 30.Rc1 Qb5+ 31.Kg1 Rxe1+ 32.Rxe1 Qxe8 33.g3 h5 34.h4 Qb5 35.Ra1 Qe2 36.Rh2 f6 37.a4 Qd1+ 38.g2 f3+ 39.g1 d1+ 40.g2 draw.

Ding vs Navara

Ding Liren proved a formidable opponent for David Navara

For two days Navara kept the match close, but on the third and last day the dam broke, and the world number three showed his class by winning all three games.


Here Black's position is already beyond repair. His bishop is without prospects, while the two white knights, by contrast are highly agile. Ding played 32.e2, brought the knight to f4 and followed up with ♖g1-e1-e7. Black is defenceless.

In the ninth game, the Czech ace fumbled in an equal position.


White took a pawn with 29.xa7, but missed 29...a4 with a double-attack winning a piece the bishop.

The last game also went against the home player:


White is better with his pair of bishops. Black took on a2, 34...xa2, but that lost two pieces for a rook after 35.xg7 xg7 36.xe5 and Ding had a massive advantage.

Nguyen overwhelms Timman

For Thai Dai Van Nguyen, the story was similar. The young Czech player against the veteran and former World Championship candidate Jan Timman looks close on paper, but Nguyen dominated the last day by winning three straight.

As in Ding-Navara, the winner took the lead in the second game of the match after the Dutch faltered already in the opening and quickly got into trouble.


Black has several good moves but 21...d5, with a discovered attack, is the best.

The veteran was on the defensive early in the match

The veteran was on the defensive early in the match

Timman lost again in the first game of the second day, but took one point back in game seven. The final day, however, was a disaster.


Timman had earlier avoided a draw by repetition only by fatally weakening his king, and here hastened his demise with 35...e4  36.xe4! 1-0.

Demoralized, he lost the last game, too.


White played for an attack with 23.f3, but found himself forced to trade queens on e4 after 23...e5 24.exd4 e4, leaving White's position in ruins. Timman resigned five moves later.

Nguyen thus equalled Ding's margin of victory 7:3.

Players and organisers

Players and organizers

Examples from the accompanying photo exhibition

All Games


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


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


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