Suspicions of possible compromises between the two Chinese to be both in the Candidate Tournament were unfounded. The best, Liren Ding, 3rd in the world and first series head of this World Cup, He has imposed himself without suffering his compatriot Yangyi Yu, 15th of the ranks, by 1.5-0.5 in the fast playoff. After Sunday's break, Ding will play the final in Janti Mansiisk (Russia) against Azerbaijani Teimur Radyábov from Monday to Thursday, for the best of four games, with eventual playoff on Friday.
The two slow games between both of Thursday and Friday, which ended in tables quite quickly and without much substance, unleashed speculation on social networks. As Ding had almost assured his presence in the Candidates Tournament for being, with great difference, who has the best average Elo points since February 2019 (not counting the current champion, Magnus Carlsen, or the runner-up and already qualified, Fabiano Caruana), the suspicion was that he was going to let himself be won by Yu so that he, as a World Cup finalist, was one of the eight who will fight - probably in Yekaterinburg (Russia), next March or April - for being the next Carlsen challenger.
However, that hypothesis had several weaknesses. No history of ordered damage (or unethical behavior) by the Chinese Chess Federation is remembered. In addition, given that the probability that Yu won the Candidate Tournament would be very small, the operation would be very unprofitable because it would imply the price of deeply irritating Ding, who is not only the 3rd in the world for a long time, but is outlined again and again as the toughest opponent Carlsen can have in November 2020. Another thing, much more credible but impossible to prove, would be that Ding and Yu had agreed to make tables without a fight in slow games to save energy, and play it everything in the fast, as they probably did - in this case there are solid signs - Radyábov and his compatriot Mamediárov in the round of 16.
In any case, the doubts dissipated very soon, in the opening of the first game of the quick tiebreaker: Yu, with white, surprised with his sixth play to Ding, but a few minutes later everything indicated that he was surprised - it was because He had found a hole in his home preparation or because of a memory failure - judging by his long reflection times for rather obvious decisions. In fact, he was left with a pawn less, but he found a way to achieve some compensation, and even a small advantage later, but he had so little time that he offered tables to avoid greater evils.
They were not good omens for those who then, after ten minutes of recess, had to face the 3rd in the world with blacks. And indeed, Ding squeezed a lot since opening to Yu, forced to sacrifice quality (difference in value between a tower and a bishop or horse) to maintain an acceptable position. However, Ding continued to tighten the pins of the position with fierce accuracy until a winning structure was achieved and with much more time on the clock.
Yu surrendered (his prize is $ 60,000), and Ding thus managed to guarantee 100% his presence in the Candidate Tournament with Caruana and Radyábov, and most likely the Dutchman Anish Giri, who is now the unclassified player with the best average of Elo points, well above the following. The other four places will be awarded as follows: two in the Grand Prix (four tournament circuit) of the International Federation (FIDE), which will end in December; one in the Great Swiss, which is played in October on the Isle of Man (United Kingdom); and one by direct designation of FIDE.
Ding, who will play with Black on Monday the first round of the final ($ 110 for the winner and 80,000 for the defeated), is the favorite, but with nuances, because Radyábov has been very consistent, and has already risen to the 10th of the world. Interestingly, the Azerbaijani said Friday night that he still does not know if he will play the Candidate Tournament. He also acknowledged that he has been thinking about retiring from chess for ten years, but he does not. Everything indicates that it is a way to anticipate the enormous pressure that it will receive from a country where chess's popularity is even with that of football.
The final it will be broadcast live from Monday to Thursday (and eventual tie-off on Friday) with comments from Leontxo García and GM Miguel Illescas, starting at 3 pm (Janti Mansiisk time), 12.00 in Madrid, 07.00 in Buenos Aires, 05.00 in Bogotá and Mexico City.