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Chinese player returns to second in the world

ChinaDing Liren (Ding Lap Nhan) earned 11.8 Elo from the Hangzhou tournament ending on April 3, to climb to number two in the world and get close to the Candidates.

Ding won 10.5 out of 12 max points, increased Elo from 2,799 to 2,811, overtaking Alireza Firouzja (2,804) to rank second in the world, behind Chess King Magnus Carlsen (2,864). The number one Chinese player won 9 and drew only 3 games at the Hangzhou tournament.

The Hangzhou tournament was held because Ding was in danger of not having enough games to attend the Candidates. After Sergey Karjakin eliminated from Candidates, his place will go to the player with the highest Elo without a ticket. The condition is that this person needs to play at least 30 Elo games from June 2021 to May 2022. Ding has only played four games in this period, up until the Hangzhou tournament.

Player Ding Liren.  Photo: Chess.com

Player Ding Liren. Photo: Chess.com

The tournament gathered only four players including Ding, Bai Jinshi, Xu Xiangyu and Li Di. The average Elo of these three competitors is 2,579. They competed in a round-robin round of four rounds, each playing 12 games from March 27 to April 2. Out of 12 games, Ding won three games each, and drew the other. His performance is up to 2,915.

The remaining 12 games of the tournament were tied, meaning that Bai, Li and Xu were all tied in all head-to-head games. They finished the tournament with the same 4.5 points, losing 7, 4 and 1 Elo respectively.

Ding now has only 16 games, 14 games short of the requirement. But he still has until the end of April 2022 to complete the task. The Chinese Chess Federation is likely to arrange more tournaments for Ding to reach the required number of games. The sufficient condition is that Ding needs to play well to avoid losing Elo from the next matches.

The more difficult problem for Ding is the visa, as he has had to miss many major tournaments such as the Grand Prix or the World Cup. Candidates 2022 takes place in Madrid, Spain from June 16 to July 7. China needs to relax its international travel regulations so that Ding can participate in this tournament.

At the closest Candidates in 2020, Carlsen considers Ding the most annoying opponent. But the Chinese player only finished fifth overall, watching Ian Nepomniachtchi win the Carlsen match.

Candidates 2022 has now identified 7 out of 8 players including Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov, Alireza Firouzja, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport. The remaining capacity is unlikely to escape from Ding’s hand.

Xuan Binh

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