Ding Liren (16) new Chinese Champion after surreal finish

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Ding Liren and Shen YangWith a score of 8/9 and two more rounds to go, Wang Hao was totally dominating the Chinese Championship and seemed to easily cruise to victory. Still, in the end it was 16-year-old Ding Liren who won the title. How exactly is a truly remarkable story.

Ding Liren and Shen Yang with the 2009 men's and women's title in China | Photo: Sina Chess News Blog

The Chinese Individual Chess Championships 2009 took place in Xinghua, Jiangsu, China from May 26th to June 6th. In the men's event all top players participated, except for Wang Yue, who was invited for the Le??n rapid tournament.

Nobody seemed to a be able to stop Wang Hao, who set an amazing score of 8 points out of 9 games. He was leading by 1.5 points - a very comfortable situation indeed, with just two more rounds to go.

In the penultimate round he played 16-year-old Ding Liren, who had an excellent tournament so far with e.g. a draw against Bu Xiangzhi and a win against Ni Hua. But a win against a Wang Hao in top shape, that would be a bit too much to ask, wouldn't it?

Well, no. Ding Liren duly beat the leader, and in great style we may add. Suddenly Wang Hao's lead was only half a point, but that wasn't too terrible as his in the last round he was paired against Liang Chong, who was last in the standings.

But the impossible happened, once again: Wang Hao also lost that game, in a drawn ending he just lost his nerves had to win (see later), started to make mistakes and then had to resign at move 68.

A terrible scenario for Wang Hao, who by then already knew he had missed on the Chinese title, as Ding Liren had won his last-round game... without making a move!

What was the case? Even before it was officially implemented (which is as of July 1st), the Chinese Championship applied the new FIDE "zero tolerance" rule for arriving at the board: players were forfeited if they arrived only a few seconds late.

This was applied very strictly in the eighth round. Hou Yifan was forfeited despite being in time in the playing hall; although she had already filled out her scoresheet, her game was still declared lost as she was not sitting behind her board at the start of the round.

And then it happened again in the last round: as Ding Liren's final-round opponent, Zhou Jianchao, was not at his board in time, Ding Liren won by default, and since Wang Hao lost, it meant the 16-year-old was the new Chinese champion. How about that.

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