Shenzhen Masters: The ice broke...

by Alex Yermolinsky
11/8/2018 – Finally! After four rounds with a total of 12 games without a decision, today the damn burst, the knot burst (or choose your own idiom). GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY explains how the two Chinese grandmasters, Ding and Yu, both won, against Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Nikita Vitiugov respectively. Ding extends the streak to 99 games without a defeat. Can he make it 100? | Photos:

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"99 bottles of undefeated on the wall..."

Ding Liren has already broken Mikhail Tal's old record of 95 tournament games without a defeat and has increased the record number today to 99, but this time with a victory, not a draw, over Radoslaw Wojtaszek.

In fact, both Chinese players scored wins in resolute fashion in Round 5. The significance of Ding's and Yu's success is best viewed in the live rating list. Ding Liren has come within the smallest of margins of catching Mamedyarov for third place. It increasingly seems that both Mamedyarov and Ding are going to be seeded into the next Candidates tournament. 

Ding - Wojtaszek

His win over Wojtaszek illustrates Ding's quality of play in all stages of the game.


Behind him, Yu Yangyi celebrates his ascension to Top Ten for the first time in his career. I can't help but wonder what else does he need to do to earn invitations to big events in Europe and the United States. Ignoring the accomplishments of Chinese chess players is no longer possible.

Yu took full advantage today of Vitiugov's passive play in the opening. Once he won a pawn and maintained the integrity of his pawn front, the win was never in doubt.


Yu Yangyi

The Russian's poor form in this tournament surprises me. Nikita played well for his winning team of “Bronze Horseman” at the European Club Cup, but nothing has gone right for him in Shenzhen so far. Still, there are enough games left for a comeback.

The tournament would have become completely unrecognisable if it wasn't for a draw du jour in the following game. Today's elite players seem very proficient in creating symmetrical pawn structures.


Giri vs MVL

The 2018 edition of Dute Cup has reached its mid-point,and we can hope that the players will take it from there, and won't get too distracted by the big show in London. I'm afraid I will.

All games Rounds 1-5


Standings after Round 5



Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.


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