June 11, 2009 6:44

Ding Liren (16) new Chinese Champion after surreal finish

Ding Liren and Shen YangWith a score of 8/9 and two more rounds to go, Wang Hao was totally dominating the Chinese Championship and seemed to easily cruise to victory. Still, in the end it was 16-year-old Ding Liren who won the title. How exactly is a truly remarkable story.

Ding Liren and Shen Yang with the 2009 men's and women's title in China | Photo: Sina Chess News Blog

The Chinese Individual Chess Championships 2009 took place in Xinghua, Jiangsu, China from May 26th to June 6th. In the men's event all top players participated, except for Wang Yue, who was invited for the Le??n rapid tournament.

Nobody seemed to a be able to stop Wang Hao, who set an amazing score of 8 points out of 9 games. He was leading by 1.5 points - a very comfortable situation indeed, with just two more rounds to go.

In the penultimate round he played 16-year-old Ding Liren, who had an excellent tournament so far with e.g. a draw against Bu Xiangzhi and a win against Ni Hua. But a win against a Wang Hao in top shape, that would be a bit too much to ask, wouldn't it?

Well, no. Ding Liren duly beat the leader, and in great style we may add. Suddenly Wang Hao's lead was only half a point, but that wasn't too terrible as his in the last round he was paired against Liang Chong, who was last in the standings.

But the impossible happened, once again: Wang Hao also lost that game, in a drawn ending he just lost his nerves had to win (see later), started to make mistakes and then had to resign at move 68.

A terrible scenario for Wang Hao, who by then already knew he had missed on the Chinese title, as Ding Liren had won his last-round game... without making a move!

What was the case? Even before it was officially implemented (which is as of July 1st), the Chinese Championship applied the new FIDE "zero tolerance" rule for arriving at the board: players were forfeited if they arrived only a few seconds late.

This was applied very strictly in the eighth round. Hou Yifan was forfeited despite being in time in the playing hall; although she had already filled out her scoresheet, her game was still declared lost as she was not sitting behind her board at the start of the round.

And then it happened again in the last round: as Ding Liren's final-round opponent, Zhou Jianchao, was not at his board in time, Ding Liren won by default, and since Wang Hao lost, it meant the 16-year-old was the new Chinese champion. How about that.


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


what a wonderful world's picture

the chinese are nutz-o individuals.

big brother is watching and controlling all that you do....

CAL|Daniel's picture

This article fails to mention the fact explicitly that since Ding Liren received the free point... it put Wang Hao in a must win situation... because if you examine his game he lost only because he HAD to win. The game is very easy to draw at several points but a draw was not enough.

peter visser's picture

Crazy rules, crazy people. Just unbelievable!

RLH's picture

I agree, this forfeit rule is utter utter utter CRAP.

Peter Doggers's picture

@CAL|Daniel Good point, updated.

Meppie's picture

As far as I know the new rule is that you lose when you not have been at your board before the start of the game.
Reading the article Hou Yifan was at her board before the start of the last round to fill out the scoresheet and didn't do anything wrong!

bernd's picture

what do you expect in a country that still has the death penalty ;) oh wait the forfeit thing is a FIDE rule isn't it

Buri's picture

In the standings, in "Li Chao2" is the 2 a typo?

Kenneth W. Regan's picture

"Li Chao2" is a well-known GM, and in other records one can find him listed as "Li Chao B". The other Li Chao appears to be a 2300s player. Both were active in the 2008 Chinese Premier League sponsored by Torch Real Estate.

Writing in several other blogs, I've tried to get behind the obvious shock/horror and touch on the implementation of the new rules:

(a) If chess is going to follow other professional sports in having
strict start times, then it should also follow many of them in moving
those start times 5-or-10 minutes off the hour. This is for spectators
as well as players.
It's not just a matter of building a buffer for the natural
human tendency to focus on the :00 and :30 points of the hour.
It allows time for visiting dignitaries, photos etc. between (say)
7:00 and 7:05, plus give time for media to do intros---if you
anticipate having those things, it doesn't make sense to list
7:00 as the start-clocks time. Making pre-game attendance mandatory
is a separate (contractual) issue.

(b) To my surprise, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
rulebook (Ch. VIII, sect. 4, point (n)--Punctuality) has an official
grace period up to 15 minutes with fines, though only for players
who are "on site". Although my point (a) is not meant as a 5-min.
"grace period", and I started out agreeing with those against
grace periods, I do feel that chess should not be leapfrogging its
traditions to become more strict than peer professional organizations.

Both of these points are directly relevant to the Chinese championship
cases: (a) Ding Liren's opponent was defaulted before the 14:01:47
time shown in one photo, and (b) Hou Yifan was clearly "on site".
And if Hou Yifan had already been to the table and was in the playing
hall, one may question whether the new rule was explained clearly enough
to the players. If it were equivalent to the English, "You must be
in your chair *by* 14:00", then Hou Yifan could reasonably think she
had complied by coming before then and initializing her scoresheet.
If so, then comparison to the ATP rulebook---which describes acts of
"signing in" in similar contexts---would make me feel the fault lies
with the arbiters.

Meppie's picture

This is the FIDE-rule:

6.6 a. Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game. Thus the default time is 0 minutes. The rules of a competition may specify otherwise.

This is the official translation of the Dutch chess federation (KNSB).

6.6 a. Een speler verliest de partij als hij na het begin van de zitting voor het eerst aan het schaakbord verschijnt. Dat houdt in dat men niet te laat mag komen. In het toernooireglement mag dit anders omschreven worden.

The translation says that who appears for THE FIRST TIME at the chessboard after the start of the session loses the game. Is it possible to read the FIDE-rule this way? English is not my native language.

Bert de Bruut's picture

The FIDE-rule is utter nonsense, for in contrast to tennis or other sports, there is no need for an opponent in order for the player present to start the game. (in fact neither need to be present, since the arbiter can start the game, as has been common practice for as long as I play chess). A move need not necessarily be executed for starting the game, unlike a ball that has to be brought into play.

But coming from the deluded minds of FIDE, what else can one expect? Chess organisations from civilized countries should have left FIDE to its own devices years ago.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Your opponent may not need your presence in order to start a game of chess, but in my opinion it is quite rude to be late when you can easily be on time. Rude to your opponent and rude to the organisers (or sponsors) of the tournament. I don't think that any unpleasant behaviour should be punished right away, and in some instances, in case of traffic problems, like at the first round of a tournament or at away games in team matches, it might be excusable.
But when you get paid to be present, you should act professionally, or face the consequences. It may have been common practice, but I don't understand it.
I really don't see why this rule should be utter nonsense. The rule isn't even absolute: "The rules of a competition may specify otherwise", it reads.
So it hangs to how the rule is implemented. I would say, signing in before the specified time should be good enough. When the organisers deem it necessary that players are at the chessboard, for instance for promotional reasons (the first move made by some dignitary), they can inform the players when they are signing in. Who would refuse?

Dikke Deur's picture

"6.7 Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game, unless the arbiter decides otherwise."

It is clear that FIDE will need to specify what they mean with arriving at the chessboard. Some arbiters now interprete the rule as "you have to be seated at the board at the exact moment the game is scheduled to start" , which means they forfeit you even if you were at the board long before the start of the session.

Personally I agree with most people that is ridiculous to loose a game for not sitting on your chair at a specific moment in time, but I feel FIDE is right in no longer allowing players to arrive a full hour late. I, as an amateur, do not want to hang around for an hour waiting for an opponent who may or may not show up and I think organizers of Swiss-tournament will welcome the possibility to match 2 players without an opponent shortly after the official start of the session.

Castro's picture

When all of us is fully informed of it (and that is important to know), forfeiting a player because he's late (and in no comprovable force majore for it), or even because he's not at the boards at the exact begining, seems to me FAR LESS ridiculous than --- for instance --- forcing the (present) white player to play a first move against an absent black player, if he wants to stop his clock and start the latter's.

(Let alone things like forbiding draw offers!)

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