After FIDE’s ban on Sergey Karjakin for 6 months, a replacement for the Russian player at the Candiadates Chess 2022 was needed. By the current regulations, the player to enter the event will be selected by rating – considering the FIDE rating list published on May 1 (something that Anish Giri vigorously protested in an interview during the ongoing Grand Prix in Berlin).
As the world no.3 on the FIDE rankings at the time of Karjakin’s ban, Ding Liren was the clear frontrunner in the race. However, the problem was that he only played 4 games since June 2021, and the regulations of the Candidates 2022 (full version here) clearly state:
2.3 If any replacement is needed, the highest-rated player in the FIDE May 2022 standard rating list shall be invited, provided he/she has at least 30 standard games rated in the FIDE rating lists from June 2021 to May 2022.
Therefore, the best Chinese chess player started his journey of 28 standard games on March 27th and finished the marathon on April 24th. The Chinese Chess Association organized a 4-player quadruple round-robin in Hangzhou (12 games); a 6-game match against Wei Yi (6 games); and finally a 10-round qualifier to the Asian Games (10 games).
Completing 28 games with an impressive score of 20.5 points (13 victories, 15 draws and no loss), Ding Liren finished the quest of 26 games and became eligible to take Karjakin’s place in the Candidates. With live rating of 2806 points, Liren most likely secured the spot in the Candidates Tournament 2022, and the list of participants may look as followed:
Candidates Chess 2022 participants:
- Ian Nepomniachtchi – 2021 World Chess Champion Match runner-up
- Alireza Firouzja – Grand Swiss winner
- Fabiano Caruana – Grand Swiss runner-up
- Jan-Krzystof Duda – World Cup winner
- Hikaru Nakamura – Grand Prix winner
- Richard Rapport – Grand Prix runner-up
- Ding Liren – *Replacement for Karjakin
- Teimour Radjabov – Wild Card
Featured photo: Saint Louis Chess Club