The Unpredictable Ding Liren
Ding Liren. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Unpredictable Ding Liren‎

GM Gserper
39 | Tactics

There was an anniversary a few days ago that was completely missed by the chess world.

I am not talking about any chess player's birthday since they generally are covered by many chess publications (believe it or not, I even saw a note about Karl Marx's 200-year anniversary on many chess-related websites!). Instead we can celebrate a five-year anniversary that has seriously affected the modern chess elite.

On April 21, 2013, in the first round of Alekhine Memorial, GM Levon Aronian played GM Ding Liren, a young talented player who only recently crossed the 2700 level. Aronian was rated 2809 at that point and was number two or three in the world. The game between an established elite player and a very ambitious newcomer didn't disappoint! 

Since that time Ding Liren has firmly established himself as an elite player and currently he is world number five! The Chinese grandmaster is not only a very strong player; he also has a very entertaining style of play. Rephrasing the immortal quote of Forrest Gump's mother, I can say that Ding Liren's games are like a box of chocolate. You never know what you are gonna get!

Ding Liren. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today I want to analyze a game where a quiet positional opening quickly turned into a slugfest! Let's see if you will be able to guess the moves of the unpredictable grandmaster!

The first position for you to think about happened right out of the opening.

For the regular readers of my column, Ding Liren's move shouldn't come as a big surprise. We analyzed this idea more than seven years ago here. By unpinning the f7 pawn Black creates a threat 15... Nxe4! 16. Rxe4 f5! White promptly moves his queen from the dangerous diagonal, which leads to the second puzzle.

Can you guess Black's move here?

This is another common idea behind the Kh8 move. We analyzed this idea as well. After the thorough preparation, everything is ready for a strike. Can you find Black's decisive combination?

Towards the end of the game GM Inarkiev missed his last chance.

You might be wondering what was so interesting in the position in the diagram. White has just one legal move, 36. Kg2, which was played in the game. That's true, and yet White could play 36.Rg8 loudly announcing a checkmate!

GM Inarkiev didn't use this ploy, but as a strong player he learned from his mistake and one month later almost beat Magnus Carlsen using this trick! We discussed this game some time ago.

I strongly recommend you study Ding Liren's games. They are never boring and you can also learn a lot from a potential future world champion!

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