As I wrote at the end of my previous post on the Shenzhen Masters, the tournament did turn out to be a close one. Do not let the final standings confuse you – Ding Liren secured his victory by a full point only in the last round.
In my opinion this is Ding Liren’s best ever result. Even though there were no Top 10 players in the tournament (Giri is number 10 now after the tournament, where he won a couple of points) the participants were tough and experienced GMs who are difficult to beat – there were only 8 decisive games out of 30.
This doesn’t mean that the draws were dull. Quite the contrary, there were so many missed wins that had the players been more precise in converting their chances the tournament would have been a bloodbath!
The most unfortunate player in this respect was Michael Adams. He had winning positions in Rounds 5, 6, 7, yet he only scored 1/3 from these games! The most painful was of course the game he lost:
Ding had his fair share of luck, as the winners usually do, escaping with draws from a lost position against Adams and an unpleasant one against Giri (which he could accidentally win in the exact moment when he decided to give a perpetual check!). But he seemed in control for the whole tournament, being excellently prepared and playing solid and technical chess – two of the games he won were excellent demonstration of the power of the two bishops. I already showed the first one against Svidler in my previous post while the second one was probably his best game in Shenzhen.
Having in mind that Ding Liren scored a very good +1 at the recently finished Grand Prix in Sharjah, I think that he is a serious candidate to qualify for next year’s Candidates.
Of the other players, worth noting is Svidler’s last round win against the despondent Adams (who sacrificed a pawn for nothing in an equal position) that took him to a shared second – after sinking to -1 after 3 rounds Svidler won two games to achieve a plus score. Giri’s +1 was perhaps a disappointment for him because he missed several winning chances. It is still an improvement over his usual 100% draw scores.
I will now start following the US Championships, so stay tuned for more posts!