In winning the Du Te Cup, Ding proved that he can beat a stellar international field.

The Du Te Cup in Shenzhen, China, which ended last Sunday, was a significant victory for Ding Liren on his home turf. Though he has won three national championships, he had not broken through against an international field.

Heading into the final round of the six-player, double round-robin tournament, the standings were:

Ding Liren 5½
Anish Giri 5
Peter Svidler, Pentala Harikrishna 4½
Yu Yangyi 4
Michael Adams 3½

The last round pairings were Harikrishna vs. Ding, Giri vs. Yu, and Adams vs. Svidler. With White against Ding, Harikrishna had a great opportunity to catch the leader, though that would not guarantee a tie for first, as a Giri win would put him ahead of the pack.

Giri did not win. Yu played the Petroff and any edge Giri might have enjoyed was gone after Yu’s accurate 23…Qb3. The game quickly ended in a perpetual check, leaving Giri temporarily tied with Ding.

Giri, Anish vs. Yu, Yangyi
Du Te Cup 2017 | Shenzhen CHN | Round 10.2 | 02 Apr 2017 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nbd2 Lately this has supplanted moves like 8.Re1 and 8.c4 as White's main try for an advantage.
8... Nd6 9. c3 Bf5 10. Nb3
10. Bxf5 Nxf5 11. Qb3 has borne fruit for White in some recent grandmaster games, but Yu managed to hold a draw without too much trouble against Vachier-Lagrave a couple of months ago.
11... b6 12. Re1 Qd7 13. Nf1 f6 14. Qc2 O-O 15. Bf4 Bd6 16. Bxd6 Nxd6 17. Ne3 Ne7 18. b3 Ndf5 19. c4 dxc4 20. Qxc4+ Kh8 21. Rac1 Nxe3 22. fxe3 Rac8 23. b4 c6 24. e4 Rfe8 25. a4 Ng6 26. b5 c5 27. Qd5 Qg4 28. Qf5 h5 29. h3 Qxf5 30. exf5 Nf4 31. Rxe8+ Rxe8 32. Kh2 cxd4 1/2-1/2 (32) Vachier Lagrave,M (2796)-Yu,Y (2738) Caleta 2017  )
10... O-O A less common move, but not yet one with independent significance relative to 10...Bxd3, as White can more or less force a transposition to that variation.
10... Bxd3 11. Qxd3 O-O 12. Bf4 has been tested a few times, and it's not clear if White has anything serious here.  )
11. Re1
11. Bf4 is the way to force or at least strongly encourage the aforementioned transposition to the 10...Bxd3 line:
11... Bxd3 12. Qxd3 and it's the same position.  )
11... Bxd3 12. Qxd3 a5!? 13. a4 Ne4 14. Be3 Qc8
14... Re8  )
14... f5!?  )
15. Ne5
15. Qb5 Rd8 16. Nbd2  )
15... Bd6!? 16. f3 Nf6 17. Nxc6 bxc6 18. Re2 Re8 19. Rae1 Nd7 Black has sufficient compensation for his fractured pawn structure, thanks to the possibility of pressure along the b-file and jumping his knight to c4.
20. Bf2 Rxe2 21. Qxe2 Qb7 22. Nc1 Rb8 23. Nd3
23. b3 would secure the b-pawn and stop any ...Nc4 dreams, but it comes at the cost of immobilizing the knight on c1. Black has no problems, and maybe even the slightly better chances, after
23... Nf8 followed by ...Ne6.  )
23... Qb3! Well calculated. This allows White to break into Black's position, but Black has enough targets of his own to keep the balance.
24. Bg3 To gain entry into e7.
24... h6 25. Bxd6 cxd6 26. Qe7 Qc2! 27. Qxd7 Qxd3 28. h3
28. Qxc6 Rxb2 29. Qxd5 g5! The point is that the otherwise desirable
...  30. Qxd6 Qd2 31. Qg3 Qxc3 32. h4 Qxd4+ 33. Kh2 Rb4 34. hxg5 Qh4+ 35. Qxh4 Rxh4+ 36. Kg3 hxg5  )
28... Qd2 29. Re8+ Rxe8 30. Qxe8+ Kh7 31. Qxf7 Qxb2 32. Qf5+ Kh8 33. Qf8+ Kh7 34. Qf5+ Kh8 35. Qc8+ Kh7

Svidler joined the group with 5½ points by defeating Adams with the Black pieces. Adams sacrificed a pawn in an Advance Caro-Kann, and while the sac was sound, Adams couldn’t figure out how to keep up the pressure. He sacrificed a second pawn, but when he played 24.Qg5? (rather than 24.Rg3) his counterplay disappeared, and Svidler wound up with both extra material and a better position. The game ended soon afterward.

Adams, Michael vs. Svidler, Peter
Du Te Cup 2017 | Shenzhen CHN | Round 10.3 | 02 Apr 2017 | 0-1
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. h4
4. Nf3 remains the main line of the Advance Caro-Kann.  )
4. Bd3 is not considered dangerous for Black, and here's a game showing how it can be dangerous for White.
4... Bxd3 5. Qxd3 e6 6. Nc3 Qb6 7. Nge2 c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. O-O Ne7 10. Na4 Qc6 11. Nxc5 Qxc5 12. Be3 Qc7 13. f4 Nf5 14. c3 Nc6 15. Rad1 g6 16. g4 Nxe3 17. Qxe3 h5 18. g5 O-O 19. Nd4 Qb6 20. Rf2 Rfc8 21. a3 Rc7 22. Rd3 Na5 23. Re2 Re8 24. Kg2 Nc6 25. Red2 Rec8 26. Re2 Ne7 27. Red2 Rc4 28. Qh3 Kg7 29. Rf2 a5 30. Re2 Nf5 31. Nxf5+ gxf5 32. Qf3 Kg6 33. Red2 Re4 34. Rd4 Rc4 35. Qf2 Qb5 36. Kg3 Rcxd4 37. cxd4 Qc4 38. Kg2 b5 39. Kg1 b4 40. axb4 axb4 41. Kg2 Qc1 42. Kg3 Qh1 43. Rd3 Re1 44. Rf3 Rd1 45. b3 Rc1 46. Re3 Rf1 0-1 (46) Nimzowitsch,A-Capablanca,J New York,NY 1927  )
4... h5 5. Bd3 Bxd3 6. Qxd3 In the (very) old days, it was thought that this was already a strategic victory for Black. He has swapped off his bad bishop, and now he can set up a French structure with no drawbacks whatsoever. (See the Nimzowitsch-Capablanca game above for a model game from Black's point of view.) It is true that the exchange is useful to Black and that he'll go for a French-style setup, but White still has some trumps, too.
6... e6 7. Bg5 Be7
7... Qb6 is more common, going for immediate counterplay rather than facilitating an exchange that, at least in theory, ought to be in White's favor. (White's remaining bishop is "bad", hemmed in by its own pawns.)
8. Nd2! is the only move worth trying, with a complicated game afoot after
8... c5 or
...  9. c4 .  )
8. Nf3 Nh6 9. Nc3
9. Bxh6 Rxh6 10. Nbd2 Nd7 11. c3 c5 12. a3 Rc8 13. b4 cxd4 14. cxd4 Nb6 gave Black good play in Sutovsky,E (2628)-Topalov,V (2739) Caleta 2017, 0-1 (42).  )
9... Nf5 10. Ne2 c5 11. dxc5
11. c3 cxd4 12. cxd4 Qa5+ 13. Bd2 Qa6 14. Qxa6 Nxa6 15. O-O-O Kd7 16. Bg5 Rhc8+ 17. Kb1 Bf8!? 18. Rh3 Rc4 19. Ng3?! Nxg3 20. Rxg3 Rac8 gave Black a risk-free edge in Potapov,P (2474) -Alekseev,E (2679) Moscow 2015, 0-1 (64).  )
11... Qa5+
11... Na6 had been successfully played in four previous games, with Black getting a win and three draws. Adams had White in one of those games, which went as follows:
12. Qb5+ Qd7 13. Qxd7+ Kxd7 14. Bxe7 Kxe7 15. b4 b6 16. cxb6 Nxb4 17. Ned4 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 axb6 19. Rb1 Rxa2 20. Kd2 Na6 21. Rxb6 Nc5 22. Rc6 Ne4+ 23. Ke2 Rb8 24. Rc7+ Ke8 25. Rd1 Ra3 26. Rd3 Rxd3 27. cxd3 Rb2+ 28. Rc2 Rxc2+ 29. Nxc2 Nc5 30. d4 Ne4 31. Ne3 1/2-1/2 (31) Adams,M (2744)-Navara,D (2730) Wijk aan Zee 2016  )
12. c3 Qxc5 13. Bxe7 Kxe7!? 14. Ned4
14. O-O Nc6 15. Nf4 g6  )
14... Nxd4 15. Nxd4 Nc6 16. O-O!? In return for an important pawn, White gets the half-open d- and e-files, along with promising the pawn levers c3-c4 and f2-f4-f5. It's enough to hold the balance, with best play.
16... Nxe5 17. Qe3 Nd7 18. Rfe1?! Too slow.
18. Rad1! Kf8 19. c4 e5 20. Nf5 d4 21. Qg5 g6 22. b4! Qxb4 23. Rb1 Qxc4 24. Qe7+ Kg8 25. Rxb7 gxf5 26. Rxa7 Rc8 27. Rxd7 Qe6 28. Qxe6 fxe6 29. Re1  )
18... Kf8 19. Rad1
19. Rac1  )
19... Rh6 There are no sacs on e6, and Black's king is almost home free.
20. Rd3?!
20. c4! is White's best try, fighting for activity.
20... Qxc4 21. Rc1 Qb4 22. Rc7 Rd8 23. Nf3 White retains some compensation.  )
20... Kg8 21. Qd2 Rg6 Preventing Rg3. It looks like White is simply down a pawn for nothing.
22. Nf3 Rg4 23. Nh2 Rxh4 24. Qg5?
24. Rg3 would offer keep some play for the pawns.  )
24... Re4! Because of the small tactics involved, White won't regain the h-pawn. Black will play ...Nf6 next, and then it's two extra pawns for nothing. White is lost.
25. Ree3 Nf6 26. b4 Qb6
26... Qc4  )
27. Rg3 Re1+ 28. Nf1 Ng4! 29. Rde3 Ra1 30. Re2 Qa6 31. Qd2 Rc8 32. Qb2 Rb1!

At this point, if Harikrishna won, there be a four-way tie for first with 2/3 of the field finishing with 5½ out of 10. For a while this seemed a very real possibility because of Ding’s poorly placed bishop on h7. The key moment came on move 24, when instead of 24.Kg2 or 24.Kf1, unpinning the f-pawn for the sake of the e- and g-pawns and the bishop on h4, White played 24.Qf3? This walked into the very nice move 24…g5!, when Black’s bad bishop was able to extricate itself while White’s bishop on h4 (and then on g3) became a liability. In a single move White went from having excellent winning chances to practically a lost position, and Black demonstrated good technique in converting his advantage. With the win Ding not only took first, but gained more than 14 rating points to rise to No. 11 in the world in the live ratings.

Harikrishna, Pentala vs. Ding, Liren
Du Te Cup 2017 | Shenzhen CHN | Round 10.1 | 02 Apr 2017 | 0-1
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O At least threatening to play the Marshall Gambit, which at the moment is an extremely effective drawing weapon for Black. While this could make Giri's job of trying to catch up somewhat easier, Ding surely realized that Harikrishna would have to avoid the Marshall for the sake of his own winning chances. A win and only a win would let him catch his opponent and give him a chance to tie for first, so drawish lines had to be avoided.
8. a4 Along with 8.h3, the most popular way of avoiding the gambit, but
8. a3 is starting to show up on the radar with three very high-level games this year. For the sake of aiding those interested in researching the line, here are those games:
8... Bc5 9. c3 Bb6 10. d4 Re8 11. Bg5 d6 12. Qd3 Na5 13. Bd5 c6 14. Ba2 c5 15. dxc5 dxc5 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. b4 Nb7 18. c4 bxc4 19. Bxc4 cxb4 20. axb4 1/2-1/2 (20) Grischuk,A (2742) -Aronian,L (2785) Sharjah 2017  )
8. c3 d5 is the famous, infamous Marshall Gambit, one of the most reliable weapons for Black in all of opening theory.
9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 and the variations go on and on forever. A trendy line starts
12. d3 Bd6 13. Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Qh4 15. g3 Qh3 16. Be3 Bxd3 17. Nd2 Qf5 18. Bd4 Rfe8 19. a4 h6 20. Kg2 Qxf3+ 21. Nxf3 , when White hopes to squeeze some benefit from his very slightly more active pieces.  )
8... b4 9. d4 d6 10. dxe5 Nxe5
10... dxe5 is also very playable, and is in fact the more commonly chosen move. Here White has focused most of his efforts on the line
11. Nbd2 Bc5 12. Qe2 Qe7 and now either
13. h3 or
...   )
11. Nxe5 dxe5 12. Qe2
12. Qxd8 Rxd8 13. Nd2 is a playable alternative.  )
12... a5! Very logical, though the immediate
12... Bc5 has been more popular.  )
13. Bg5
13. Nd2 Bc5 14. Nc4 Ng4! 15. Ne3 Nf6 16. h3 Qe7 17. Bd2 c6 18. Qf3 Be6 19. Nf5 Bxf5 20. Qxf5 Rad8 21. Red1 h6 22. Be1 Rxd1 23. Rxd1 Bd4 24. c3 bxc3 25. bxc3 Ba7 26. Bc2 Rb8 27. Rb1 Rxb1 28. Bxb1 Qa3 29. Qc8+ 1/2-1/2 (29) Rowies,A (2375)-Dos Santos,M (2412) ICCF email 2011  )
13... Bc5
13... Qd4! is crude but effective. After
14. c3 bxc3 15. Nxc3 c6 White's queenside structure is every bit as weak as Black's, due to the latter's coming pressure along the b-file.  )
14. Nd2 Bg4 15. Nf3 Qe7 16. h3 Bh5 17. Rad1
17. g4! Bg6 18. Bh4!  )
17... Rad8
17... h6! 18. Bh4 g5! 19. Bg3 Rfd8  )
18. g4!
18. Rxd8 Rxd8 19. g4! Bg6 20. Qb5  )
18... Bg6 19. h4?!
19. Bh4  )
19. Kg2 h6 20. Bh4  )
19... h6
19... h5!  )
20. h5! Bh7 21. Bh4 Rd6 22. Rxd6
22. Kf1! /+/- Here, and both earlier and later in the game, it is in White's interest to move the king off the g1-a7 diagonal so that f2-f3 will be available. That bolsters the e- and g-pawns, and gives White's bishop a route back to the game via f2.  )
22... cxd6 23. Nd2 Kh8! A nice move, whose sneaky point White seems to have missed. (The obvious idea is to play ...Bg8, move the f-pawn someday, and bring the bishop back into play, but there's a second, hidden idea as well.)
24. Qf3? The turning point. White's bishop on h4 was better than the Black bishop on h7, but this allows Black to turn the tables. White was better, and had he won there would have been a four-way tie for first - a very unusual outcome in an event with only six players! Instead, Black takes over the game, and finishes a point clear of his closest pursuers, Giri and Svidler.
24. Kg2  )
24. Kf1!  )
24... g5! 25. Bg3
25. hxg6 fxg6 This is the point of Black's 23rd move - this would have been illegal if Black's king were still on g8.
26. Qh3 g5 27. Bg3 Kg7 28. Kg2 Bg6 29. f3 Bd4 It's not so much the pressure against b2 that matters, though that helps. Black also intends ...Rh8 and ...h5, when White's king will be in serious danger as well.  )
25... Kg7 26. Nc4 Qb7! 27. Qd3
27. Nd2 was better, protecting the the e-pawn. Unfortunately for White, he has problems with the g-pawn as well, and sooner or later one of those weaknesses will fall.
27... Qc8 28. Nc4 Re8 29. Kf1 Qc6 30. Nd2 Qd7 31. Nc4 Nxg4 32. Nxa5 Bxf2!  )
27... Nxe4 28. Nxa5 Qc7 29. Rxe4 Qxa5 30. Qd5 Bxe4 31. Qxe4 Bd4 White has no real compensation for the exchange, but converting the material into a win will take some work. Black demonstrates good technique to finish the job.
32. Qf5 Qc5 33. a5 Maybe White could have lasted longer by trying to stand pat, e.g. with
33. Kg2 Bxb2 34. Qe4 , but sooner or later Black will break White's quasi-fortress with ...f5 or ...d5.  )
33... Qxa5 34. c3 bxc3 35. Bc2 Rh8 36. Bb3 Qc7 37. bxc3 Bxc3 38. Bd5 Bd4 39. Kg2 Qe7 Black will chase away White's queen, and then reactivate his rook.
40. Qe4 Qf6 41. f3 Rb8 42. Kh3 Rb2 43. Bc4 Bf2 44. Bh2 Rb4 45. Kg2 Be3 46. Bg3 Bc5 47. Bh2 Rb2+ 48. Kh3 Rf2 49. Be2
49. Bd5 Rd2 50. Bc6 Qe6  )
49... d5 The job is done.
50. Qd3 e4 51. Qxd5 Rxf3+ 52. Kg2
52. Bxf3 Qxf3+ 53. Bg3 Qh1+ 54. Bh2 Qf1+ 55. Kg3 Qf3#  )
52... Rf2+ 53. Kh3 Rxh2+
53... Rxh2+ 54. Kxh2 Qf2+ 55. Kh3 Qe3+ wins the bishop with check, followed by a speedy mate.  )


Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.