Life (Chess) is hard, but so am I! Ding Liren, the 'chess centurion'

Life (Chess) is hard, but so am I! Ding Liren, the 'chess centurion'

CM vinniethepooh
Nov 10, 2018, 1:50 AM |

24 October 1992. A star was born. Ding Liren has recorded a century in the field of chess. For his last 100 games, he has remained unbeaten.

Ding Liren, a chinese chess prodigy, became a grandmaster at the age of 17. Since then, his growth has been phenomenal.

Together with being the only Chinese to reach the legendary 2800 club, this year he also became the first from the world's largest populated country to compete in a Candidates tournament. He was qualified after winning the runner-up position in World Cup 2017.

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Ding Liren in action at Candidates 2018.


A few days back, he went over Mikhail Tal's all time famous 95 game unbeaten streak. During the course of these games, Ding has scored 29 wins and 71 draws. (Note: Please bear in mind that this is not an article to compare unbeaten streak records. This article purely focuses on Ding Liren.)

He faced the likes of most of the world's top players including Carlsen, Caruana, Aronian etc. during this streak, which made it all the more fantastic. He hasn't been defeated since 9 August 2017.

As one might imagine, Ding's style is solid and positional, but he can produce imaginative, brutal attacks as well. The following game he played with Black against Bai Jinshi was featured in's list of Greatest Games of All Time. It's very interesting to note that Ding maintains all pieces in the final position except for the sacrificed queen! Have a look at one of the most deadly and beautiful games ever:

Ding Liren, Bai Jinshi, Ding Liren's Immortal, Best Chess Games

"GM Ding plays all forward moves until his brilliant Rd4!!, and then he brings all his pieces backward to checkmate the white king!" —   @Rakesh

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A cute little Ding Liren!

Ding is a very universal player, very strong technically as well. Now let us look at an endgame squeeze, seemingly out of nowhere with White against another Chinese superstar, Wang Hao. (Oh, and do let me know how you like/dislike the new GIF viewer) Watch as Ding displays immaculate technique:


Know more about Ding from these excerpts from his interview with Sagar Shah!

When asked about how he started playing chess, Liren Ding (Yes! His first name is Liren!) said he couldn't remember clearly:

"It happened so early in my life that I do not remember it. What I know is only from others and newspaper clippings that I have. I was four years old when my mother and their friends decided that their kids should learn chess. So they took us to a chess club. Wenzhou is a chess city in China. Former women's World Champion Zhu Chen is from Wenzhou and also the match between Xie Jun and Korchnoi took place in the city. There is a good atmosphere to study chess here. I had the same initial coaches as Zhu Chen had. Chen Lixing was my first coach. He is very famous in the Wenzhou Chess Association."

When asked about his general routine on the days he doesn't go to university:

"I don't like to make a plan for myself. I study chess when I feel like doing it. Usually I wake up at 9 or 10 a.m. I cannot really go to sleep early at night. 1 a.m. is the normal time to go to bed for me. After waking up and having my breakfast I go through the games that have been played yesterday. I use or The Week in Chess to find games. If I get some interesting games I go through them and try to analyze deeper.

Once I am done seeing the latest games, it's usually time for lunch. I like to take some rest after lunch. I do some physical exercise in the evening or play basketball with my friends. After that I play chess games online and often also follow the live league games that are being played. I also like football, so if there is some match that is being played I watch them. And before going to sleep I like to read a book or listen to some music. I think this is a normal day for me."

When asked about his aim in chess:

"I just want to work hard and keep improving. I do not like to keep an aim in chess like winning the World Championship. Right now its very far. (?! He had just qualified for Candidates!!) I will try to be happy and have good mood in daily life and then show my chess skill. I want to be a little different from a normal person."

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One Chinese chess player who really laughs! Ding Liren's success mantra: "I work hard. I love chess. I don't play video games!" 

Even in his youth, Ding was an extremely strong player. This game when he beat Kamsky with Black was when he was only 19. Oh, the game's totally insane!



It is interesting to note that Ding completed 100 games in this streak by drawing against the same player to whom he last lost: Anish Giri.

When the Norway Chess 2018 was going on, Ding fractured his hip after he slipped riding a bicycle. Even in such pain though, he refused to go to the hospital immediately, and participated in the rest day's 'cook-off' and won it together with Vishy Anand!

It spoke volumes of Ding's mental strength when he was all smiles during this competition!

Ding Liren cooking Norway

Ding Liren in good spirits!

After a scan, Ding had to undergo a surgery but after a few months came storming back and still did not lose a single game, even though he had to rely heavily on clutches for walking!

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Returning to chess after nearly a gap of three months- Ding Liren! A true fighter. How far will he go? 100 games and counting! (EDIT: Ding's streak ended exactly at 100 games, a day after this blog was posted, against Vachier Lagrave in the 7th round of Shenzhen Masters.)

Extending a warm congratulations to Ding Liren, the 'chess centurion'~~

Life is hard, but so am I!