Ding Liren, China’s world No3, defeated Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen 3-1 in a speed play-off after they tied for first in last week’s $325,000 Sinquefield Cup in St Louis. The denouement was a stunning move missed by Carlsen and is featured in this week’s puzzle.

Ding, 26, is now the favourite to win the eight-player candidates early in 2020 which will decide the next challenger for Carlsen’s global crown. Carlsen won his previous two title defences, against Sergey Karjakin in 2016 and Fabiano Caruana in 2018, by victories in speed play-offs and had not lost a tiebreak since 2007, so last week Ding effectively defused one of Carlsen’s main weapons.

China already holds both open and women’s Olympiad team titles while Ju Wenjun is the individual women’s champion, but defeating the legendary Carlsen would be the icing on the cake.

There is another plan, too. Last week Shenzhen staged an invitation mixed doubles, with men and women making alternate moves. China’s Yu Yangyi and Hou Yifan won easily, and will be strong favourites if the event ever becomes official.

China’s target will be to dominate international chess to the extent that the old Soviet Union did for nearly half a century.


This was the final moment of the five-minute blitz tiebreak game which gave China’s Ding Liren victory over world champion Magnus Carlsen. Ding (Black, to play) is threatened with Qf8 checkmate. How did he turn the tables?

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