Ding Liren of China is the new leader of the Moscow Grand Prix after beating Hou Yifan, his compatriot, in Round 3 on Sunday.
Ding now has 2.5 points, followed by Peter Svidler of Russia, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Salem Saleh of United Arab Emirates, who have 2 points apiece.
The Moscow Grand Prix is the second of four in the series. The top two finishers will qualify for the Candidates tournament next year to select a challenger for the World Championship. Twenty-four of the top players in the world are competing in the Grand Prix, with 18 playing in each tournament. (Each player competes in three of the four competitions.)
The series is sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, the global cybersecurity company, PhosAgro, a giant Russian fertilizer company, and EG Capital Advisors, a global financial management company. Each tournament has a prize fund of 130,000 euros.
The Moscow tournament is being held in the Telegraph building in central Moscow, a landmark building that is steps from the Kremlin. The Telegraph was also the site of the 2016 Candidates tournament.
After two relatively quiet rounds to start the tournament, with only three decisive games, there were five on Sunday. In addition to Ding’s victory, Svidler beat Pentala Harikrishna of India, Mamedyarov defeated Michael Adams of England, Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway downed Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia, and Saleh beat Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.
The most critical victory for the standings was Ding’s win over Hou:
Mamedyarov, who has been on a hot streak lately that has put him at No. 5 in the world, according to the Live Ratings Web site, manhandled Adams.
Though I really like the aggressive spirit with which Harikrishna played, his attack was not, objectively, sound, and Svidler calmly rebuffed it.
Another player who impressed me with his coolness under pressure was Saleh. He navigated the complications against Nepomniatchi, walking his king through danger, even though he did not have much time on his clock.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.
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