Ding Liren Defeats Shankland In Speed Chess Opener
Shankland kept it close, but the Sinquefield Cup winner pulled away in the bullet portion to take the match.

Ding Liren Defeats Shankland In Speed Chess Opener

IsaacSteincamp
IsaacSteincamp
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8 | Chess.com News

Monday night's match between Ding Liren and Sam Shankland kicked off the Speed Chess Championship, the premier Chess.com tournament of the year. 

Fresh off his playoff victory against Magnus Carlsen in the Sinquefield Cup, Ding out-muscled Shankland, the 2018 U.S. champion, using a dominant performance in the bullet portion to suppress any chance of a late comeback. Ding won the match 19-12. 

Ding, the world number-three in classical rating, advances to the second round, where he will face the winner of Wednesday's match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Women's Speed Chess Champion Elina Danielian.

Ding Liren vs Shankland SmarterChess Predictions
Ding mostly outperformed the SmarterChess predictions, but Shankland's mid-match surge in the 3|1 portion kept the match close.

After opening the match with a draw, Ding was quick to establish a commanding lead, scoring five wins over the next six games, including this tactical win:

In winning his fifth game, Ding Liren padded the score with a 6-1 lead over the American. At this point, it seemed as if Ding's opening preparation and tactical prowess was too much for Shankland. 

After a draw to end his losing skid, Shankland registered his first win of the match, punishing the Chinese talent in the endgame for over-extending early:

Shankland followed the game with another victory before drawing to end the 5|1 portion trailing by three points. Despite commanding the opening segment, Ding was now playing defense, trying to fend off Shankland's mid-match surge.

5|1 section | Scores

Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Score
Ding Liren @chefshouse 2865 2975 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 7.0/11
Sam Shankland @Shankland 2880 2915 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/11

Shankland found his form in the 3|1 portion. Even with seven draws, Shankland was able to put the 5|1 segment behind him by cutting into Ding's early lead. The former American champion opened the 3|1 time control by winning the opening game:

Ding was quick to respond, finding a late-middlegame tactic to win a piece while simplifying to the endgame. Shankland tried to trap the bishop and complicate the position, but it was to no avail:

After a third round draw, Shankland ground out a win with Black, building a small endgame advantage to score the point. Shankland seemed to have solved his time-trouble issues from the 5|1 portion:

Despite the seven draws in 10 games, the 3|1 section provided a critical moment for Shankland to stabilize and stop Ding's momentum. Now down by just two points, the American had decent chances to make a comeback with the 9.5-11.5 scoreline. Ding's bullet skills were relatively unknown, and Shankland had a fighting chance to pull off an upset.

Sam Shankland

3|1 section | Scores

Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
Sam Shankland @Shankland 2876 3031 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.5/10
Ding Liren @chefshouse 2888 2859 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/10

Shankland opened the bullet with a win, exposing Ding's poor time management. While the Chinese grandmaster had opportunities to clinch a point, he spent much of the game with under 10 seconds on his clock. Meanwhile, Shankland prevailed, finishing the game with 56 seconds:

Shankland's path to victory was a bit lucky. In a surprising moment, the American hung his rook, which was missed by Ding:

Ding was in trouble. Despite Ding's early five-point lead, Shankland had closed the deficit to one. But after a draw in the second game, Ding again reeled off four consecutive wins, starting the streak with a massive kingside attack:

With the victory, Ding registered his first win in 10 games, putting the pressure back on the former U.S. champion. As the match time ticked down, Ding kept his games long, turning small advantages into long endgame conversions. Ding demonstrated the power of the bishop pair to put the match out of mathematical reach for Shankland:

Determined to finish the match on a high note, Ding scored 2.5/3 in the final games for his biggest lead in the match with a 19-12 score. The 26-year-old Chinese talent put together this near-miniature to end the match:

Ding Liren

1|1 section | Scores

Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
Ding Liren @chefshouse 2595 2941 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 7.5/10
Sam Shankland @Shankland 2729 2920 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 2.5/10

Shankland earned $387 based on win percentage. Ding won $1,000 for the victory plus $613 on percentage, totaling $1,613. He will next face the winner of Ian Nepomniachtchi and Elina Danielian in the Speed Chess Championship quarterfinals.

"The three-minute is clearly where I played my best," said Shankland, "whereas in the five-minute I was more worried I would lose every single game. He didn't give me any free points. It's no secret that I'm not a good bullet player, and he was just much stronger in that phase. I don't take one-minute as seriously, so I'm just glad I can score minus-two against a guy who's basically second-best in the world," said Shankland.

“I was very happy about the final outcome of the match," said Ding, "because I got tired in the three-minute portion and had to fight for a draw in nearly every single game. For the next match, I'll need to get more rest and play better," said Ding. 

All match games for replay and download:

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