Chinese no. 1 Ding Liren leads the 11th edition of the Danzhou Super-GM tournament at the half-way stage after following up a Round 1 loss to Richard Rapport by beating Wei Yi, Wang Hao, Alexander Grischuk and Anish Giri. The event is being held online, but with the Chinese players all gathered together in one venue. The same was true of the “Belt and Road” women’s tournament which, for a second year in a row, was won by women’s no. 1 Hou Yifan.
The tournament in Danzhou, a city on the South China Sea island of Hainan, was first held as a Chinese supertournament in 2010. Since its fifth edition in 2014 it’s been pitting the best Chinese players against strong foreign players, and on paper this year’s 11th edition is one of the strongest yet.
The difference, however, is that the pandemic has seen the event switch from a classical over-the-board tournament to a rapid (15 minutes + a 10-second increment) online event, played on the chess.com server. It’s not all online, however, since the four Chinese participants are playing together in the Chinese Chess Association’s training camp on the island.
The prize fund is 400,000 RMB, or just over $60,000, with 80,000 RMB ($12,000) for 1st place. The event began on December 3rd and continues to December 9th, with today the only rest day. You can replay all the games so far, and check out the pairings, using the selector below:
The 2019 edition of the tournament was won by Richard Rapport, and the Hungarian started with a bang in 2020 by beating Ding Liren. The top seed and world no. 3 was close to winning.
Putting the king on g1, and thereby unpinning the knight so it attacks the d7-bishop, was the move, while after 29.Qxe5 h6! Rapport was right back in the game, and after 30.Kg1 Bf5 31.e4? hxg5! he was winning.
Dutch no. 1 Anish Giri joined Richard in the lead at the end of Day 1, when Wang Hao’s 28.Bxa7? (28.e4! or 28.Bc3!) allowed a simple but highly satisfying tactical shot.
After the queen sacrifice 28…Qxf3! there was nothing to do but resign, since 29.exf3 Rxe1+ 30.Rxe1 Rxe1# is mate.
The high point of the tournament for the early leaders came when Giri and Rapport beat Veselin Topalov and Yu Yangyi convincingly in Round 3, but neither player would win a game in the next four rounds. Ding Liren ended Day 2 as co-leader after bouncing back with three wins in a row after his first round loss.
Ding put all his recent experience of online rapid chess to good use as he won a series of powerful games. He bamboozled Wei Yi in tactical complications and then found the cleanest finish against Wang Hao.
30.Nxg7! brought resignation. 30…Nxg7 runs into 31.Rxd7, while 30…Kxg7 can be hit by 31.Rxd7+! Qxd7 32.Nxe5+, winning the black queen.
Perhaps more impressive, however, was positionally outplaying Alexander Grischuk.
So far that’s the only defeat for Grischuk, who’s missing the Russian Championship but would earn more than for finishing second in Moscow if he won the online event.
The tournament reached its midway point on Day 3, which featured three rounds, and Ding Liren took the sole lead by beating Giri in a rook ending.
32…Kf8!, guarding the e8 and e7-squares, might have saved Black a lot of suffering, as after 32…b5!? 33.Re8+ Kh7 34.Ra8 Ding managed to create a passed b-pawn that ultimately won the day.
The tournament was unannounced in advance and hasn’t had a lot of attention…
…and Anish had less reason to tweet after a disastrous 3rd day. He lost a position he was winning to Wei Yi in Round 5, lost the game above to Ding and then lost on the white side of a 6.Bg5 Najdorf to Alexander Grischuk.
That left Grischuk in 3rd place, while Richard Rapport remains unbeaten and just half a point behind Ding (this table will update with future results).
Another Chinese event to switch from over-the-board to online was the 2nd edition of the Belt and Road Women’s Summit that was first held in Xi’an in 2019. Back then it was an 8-player 25+10 rapid tournament, while this year it was a 10-player event at a faster 15+5 time control. Once again, however, the Chinese players were on site in Xi’an!
You can replay all the games below.
Women’s no. 1 Hou Yifan has been inactive for the last few years while studying at Oxford and now taking up a post as a professor in Shenzhen University, but she found time to win the tournament in 2019 and has done the same this year, beating three former Women’s World Champions, Antoaneta Stefanova, Tan Zhongyi and Mariya Muzychuk, along the way:
Many of her wins were highly convincing, and she could easily have made it five wins in a row against Nana Dzagnidze, but the penultimate round game against the eventual runner-up Sarasadat Khademalsharieh of Iran could have gone either way. Hou Yifan was slightly better due to her superior pawn structure, but in a seemingly quiet position she blundered with 26…Rc8?
Suddenly 27.c5! was winning, at least if Sarasadat had followed 27…bxc5 with the forcing 28.Rxc5!, when it turns out Black would have to give up a piece to stop the c-pawn.
After 28.f4? in the game, however, Hou Yifan took over and should have won, before she also let a win slip away. The women’s no. 1 then had another rollercoaster game against Mariya Muzychuk, but eventually exploited a blunder to win and finish a full point ahead of the field.
The Danzhou Super-GM event resumes on Monday at 9:30 CET.
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