Ding Liren, the Chinese grandmaster, has scored a career best in the Classical time limit section of the Grand Tour in St Louis which concluded late last month. Ding tied for first prize with world champion Magnus Carlsen in the main tournament, and then went on to crush the champion in the quickplay tie-break.
Carlsen was on the verge of holding a draw in this game, until Ding decanted a vintage win in the endgame.
Ding-Carlsen, St Louis 2019 (see diagram 1)
This is the position from the first play-off game where Carlsen lost on time. Black has control over the g8-square so the win is not straightforward. The key to White’s winning plan is to relocate the rook to the a-file and establish the bishop on the a1-h8 diagonal. White will then win by creating threats of sacrificing the rook for the bishop. The following line is certainly not forced but it gives an idea of how this can be done. 88 Re7+ Kc6 89 Kf6 Rg3 90 Re3 Rg2 91 Rc3 Kd7 92 Ra3 Rg4 93 Ra7+ Kc6 94 Ra1 Kd7 95 g7 Bg8 96 Ra7+ Kc6 97 Ra6+ Kc7 98 Ra8 Bb3 99 Ra3 Bg8 100 Kf5 Rg2 101 Ra7+ Kc6 102 Bd4 Rg3 103 Be5 Rg2 104 Rc7+ Kb6 105 Rc8 Bd5 106 Bd4+ Kb7 107 Rc5 Bc4 108 Rxc4 bxc4 109 Bf6 (diagram 2) and White has the winning threat of 110 Bg5.
Reader Richard Booth wrote in referring to the game Mamedyarov-Aronian, published in this column on 24 August. The key position is as follows
(see diagram 3):
He gives the line 42 d7 White actually played 42 f4. 42 … Kf7 43 Kf3 Ke6 44 Re2+ Re5 45 Rb4 Rxe2 46 Kxe2 Rxd7 47 Rxb5 Rc7 48 Rb1 as being a likely draw, which is correct. However, Black can improve with 45 … Rxd7 46 Rxe5+ Kxe5 47 Rxb5+ Kd4 when the black king will shepherd the c-pawn to promotion, for example 48 Ke2 c2 49 Kd2 Kc4+ winning the black rook.