Weekly chess columns

Ding Liren is just 19 years old and has won the Chinese chess championship three out of the past four years. He obviously is an enormous talent.

He dominated this year’s event with a score of 8-3, a point ahead of the field. Hou Yifan, the sensational Chinese woman who tied for first and took second on a tiebreaker at Gibraltar, played in the men’s tournament and placed seventh, indicating an exceedingly strong tournament.

Here is one of Ding’s masterpieces. In the fifth round, he plays White against Lu Shanglei. Lu accepts the Queen’s Gambit pawn, and Ding adopts an aggressive 5 e4. Ding takes the gambit pawn back, offering in turn another pawn, which Lu accepts. Ding moves to the offensive, in a series of lucid moves that reminds one of the great Paul Morphy — swift development plus decisive attack. Lu’s 10th move is probably not just right, but thereafter his king was on the block. Ding’s victory is genius at work.


 a)  For many years, the automatic response was 6.Bg5, which transposes into very sharp lines more normally reached by other move orders. Needless to say, if this gambit is strong, it calls into question Black’s move order.

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b)  7…Bxc3 is certainly a viable alternative.

c)  8…Bxc3 9.Rb1 (9.Ba3!? Bxa1 10.Qxa1 is also possible) 9…O-O (9…Nc6!?) 10.Qd3 Ba5 11.Ng5 looks horribly dangerous for Black.

d)  This looks very natural but Black quickly gets pinned down. Perhaps 10…Kh8!? or 10…f5!? was worth considering.

e)  Reinforcing the knight and threatening to bring the rook into the attack via f3. Black is already under immense pressure! For example, 13…cxd4 14.Bxh7+! Kxh7 15.Bxg7 Bxg7 16.Qh5+ wins after either 16…Kg8 17.Qxh7+ and 18.Rf3 or 16…Bh6 17.Qxf7+ Bg7 (17…Kh8 18.Ng6#) 18.Rf3.


f)  Or 14…hxg6 15.Nxg6 Kh7 (15…Bg7 16.Ne7+) 16.Ne5.

g) Or 15…Bg7 (15…Kf7 16.Ne5+) 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Ne5+ Kf8 18.f5! exf5 19.Rxf5+ Bxf5 20.Qxf5+ Ke7 (20…Kg7 21.Qg4+ wins) 21.Qf7+ Kd6 22.Nc4+ Kc6 23.d5+ Kb5 (23…Qxd5 24.Qxe8+) 24.Qxb7+ Kxc4 25.Qb3+ Kd3 26.c4+ and White should win.

h) Forced to stop meet 19.Rf7 and 19.Rf3-h3.

i)  This is probably Black’s last chance to find a better defense, but it looks doubtful, e.g. 20…Nc6 (20…cxd4 and 20…e5 both lose to 21.Rf7) 21.Rf3 Nxd4 (21…e5 22.Raf1 Be6 23.Rf7!) 22.Rh3 Ne2+ 23.Kh1 etc.

j)  After 24…Qe7 (24…Rxg6 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Rf7) 25.Rf3 e5 (25…Rxg6 26.Qxg6+ Qg7 27.Qe8+ Kh7 28.Rh3+; 25…Bd7 26.Rfg3) 26.Rfg3 there is no hope left for Black.

Ding Liren — Lu Shanglei

China Chess Championship 2012

Queen’s Gambit Accepted



Ding Lu

Ding Lu

White Black

White Black

1. Nf3 Nf6

13. f4! (e) g6

2. c4 e6

14. Bxg6! fxg6 (f)

3. d4 d5

15. Nxg6 hxg6 (g)

4. Nc3 dxc4

16. Qxg6+ Kh8

5. e4 Bb4

17. Bg5! Bxg5

6. Bxc4!? (a) Nxe4

18. fxg5 Re7 (h)

7. O-O Nxc3 (b)

19. Qh6+ Kg8

8. bxc3 Be7 (c)

20. g6 Nd7 (i)

9. Ne5 O-O

21. Rf3 Nf8

10. Qg4 c5?! (d)

22. Raf1 Nxg6

11. Bh6 Bf6

23. Rg3! Rg7

12. Bd3 Re8

24. Rxg6 (j) 1-0