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General Feb 13, 2018 | 6:22 PMby Carlos Colodro

The Candidates: Ding Liren

The 2018 Candidates Tournament will be played in Berlin on 10-28 March. The winner will get a chance to fight for the World Championship title against Magnus Carlsen this November in London. We take a look at each candidate, analyzing his previous participations in similar events and his performance during 2017 and 2018. Let's continue with the first Chinese player to ever participate in a Candidates, Ding Liren.

Ding Liren is currently the 11th best rated player in the world with a 2769 rating. The Chinese qualified for the Candidates Tournament thanks to his second place in the 2017 World Cup in Tblisi, Georgia. In the semifinals he eliminated Wesley So, who qualified to the Candidates by rating anyway. Like So, Ding Liren will have his debut in Berlin. Let's see the highlights of the 25-year-old's career:

Ding Liren's rise to the elite materialized rather quietly. In addition to his three Chinese National Championships, his performance in first-class tournaments does not include a particularly memorable moment - except, of course, the event that qualified him to the Candidates: his second place at the 2017 World Cup -.

Ding Liren got two consecutive second places in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Tata Steel Masters finishing, respectively, one point and half a point behind the winner —Magnus Carlsen both times. The fact that he has not received invitations to play in Wijk aan Zee the last two years could be attributed, at least partially, to the rising popularity of his young compatriot Wei Yi.

In 2017, however, Ding Liren got two first places in individual tournaments: at the Shenzhen Masters, ahead of Svidler and Giri, and at the Moscow FIDE Grand Prix, where fellow Candidates Mamedyarov and Grischuk also participated.

Given his known humility, it is not surprising that Ding Liren has had great results in team events. In World Team Championships, the Chinese won team silver in 2011; team silver and individual bronze in 2013; team gold and individual silver in 2015 (the last two on the second board); and team gold and individual silver in 2017 (on the first board). Finally, Ding Liren took gold with China at the 2014 Olympiad in Tromso, where he also got a bronze medal on the second board.

The road to Berlin

Here we present all the Candidate's results in classical tournaments in 2017 and 2018:

This has been, without a doubt, a good year for China's number 1, worthy of his place at the Candidates. Since it is difficult to have very high expectations for the World Cup - one of the most complicated tournaments to win -, the Chinese focused his efforts on the FIDE Grand Prix, where he obtained good results. 

Also stand out, of course, his victory at the Shenzhen Masters, his performance as the first board of Alkaloid at the European Club Cup (the team finished in second place) and his leading role at the Khanty-Mansiysk World Team Championship, where China got gold.

The tiebreak criteria in the Candidates are: 1) Direct matches, 2) Number of wins, 3) Sonneborn-Berger. Only in the extraordinary case that these three do not break the tie, they will proceed to play rapid and blitz games. In any case, given the growing relevance of these time controls in the elite, let's see the Candidate's results from last year:

Ding Liren has reached the first place in the blitz world ranking in the past. In 2017, however, the Chinese has competed in just a few events with accelerated time controls. His participation at the Rapid and Blitz World Championships in Riyadh stand out, where he finished towards the top of the standings in both events. On the other hand, he was overwhelmingly defeated by Magnus Carlsen at the St. Louis Champions Showdown.

Finally, let's see the evolution of Ding Liren's rating in the last 14 months:

See also:

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