Ding Liren Reaches 2800 Rating
Ding Liren got good match practice at the 2017 Champions Showdown against GM Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Ding Liren Reaches 2800 Rating

| 61 | Chess Event Coverage

It's considered bad luck in many parts of the world to break a mirror, but for Ding Liren, even breaking his hip only barely slowed him down.

Just 2.5 months after falling off a bicycle in Norway and being forced to withdraw from the tournament, Ding Liren beat Veselin Topalov in a match from August 10-14 by the score of 3.0-1.0. That pushed his rating over 2800 for the first time. He becomes only the 14th player to clear the crescendo (Topalov has the fifth-highest live rating of all time, at 2826.5). Ding  Liren should close out the next rating list at 2804, number four in the world at the moment.

Ding Liren

Ding Liren, the first Chinese player to break 2800. | Photo: Mike Klein/

The return to the chessboard is also ahead of initial doctor recommendations to take at least three months off.

Since the top Chinese player finished with two wins and two draws, that runs his unbeaten streak to a remarkable 82 games, a full season of the National Basketball Association. He's even undefeated in cooking competitions in that span (we think!).

The match with Bulgaria's number-one also serves as a tune-up for the Olympiad, at least for Ding Liren. As reported, Bulgaria will not be sending a team this year, but China will travel to Batumi as the third seed.


Chess foreshadowing: GM Veselin Topalov, walking past a banner of Ding Liren last year! | Photo: Mike Klein/

The four-game match makes up for some of Ding Liren's missed chess during his convalescence, including a canceled match with David Navara. The four games with Topalov took place in Wenzhou, China, the birthplace of Ding Liren.

In fact the hometown hero only needed one afternoon to go over 2800 in the live ratings, as he won game one. Ding Liren played an offbeat King's Indian Defense and accepted less space for much of the game before finally breaking out on the kingside to gain activity.

Topalov's best chance was with his second turn with White, in game three, but he couldn't quite get to his opponent's king.

After draws in games two and three, Ding Liren bookended the match with another win.

He showed pretty sharp play for a guy who said he spent much of the summer reading and watching the World Cup. As a fan of Italy, who didn't even qualify for the finals, he switched allegiances to Argentina.

The final game was Karpovian in its slow buildup. Or in football terms, he played like Germany, always in control and waiting for his chance to score. That finally came on the move before the time control, with 39. Bxg6! putting the match in the back of the net.

The match was played with the time control 40/90, SD/30 with a 30-second increment from move one.

Not only did Ding Liren eclipse 2800, he also pocketed $20,000 USD for the victory. Topalov earned $10,000 in the loss.

FM Mike Klein

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

  • Email:
  • Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
  • Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

More from FM MikeKlein
Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

New ChessKid Adventure App Released

New ChessKid Adventure App Released