24 May 2017

Ding, Shakh and Pursuers

Rounds 4-6 of the FIDE Grand Prix Leg in Moscow in the review of Dmitry Kryakvin 

This Candidates Tournament qualification is somewhat reminiscent of the biathlon racing. Speeding along the ski track is Martin Fourcade, breathing down his neck is Anton Shipulin. Contesting the medals are Schempp, Bø, Bailey, Bjørndalen, Peiffer, Landertinger and Svendsen. They run in a tight pack towards the firing line. One error, one faulty move and... Meanwhile, all this multitude of bodies, skis and rifles makes you realize that not everybody's chances are that great after all, and that given such a level of competition an imaginary Dominik Windisch is more unlikely than not to cross the finish line first. Winning this race takes an extra-class athlete. However, it is still unclear who this athlete is going to be. Same is true about the Moscow competition, in which two leaders are pursued by some six players trailing behind by half a point only.

Let us give a summary of what has happened since out previous tournament review. Well, nothing extraordinary but that the 2800-rated Shakh has caught up with the leader. Displaced from the top rankings has been the start hero Salem Saleh, while besides Peter Svidler the “+1” group has been joined by a cohort of outstanding grandmasters, such as: Boris Gelfand, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Teimour Radjabov. This is good news, however, since all those victories stand to show that there is no choking human chess by draws! “The first two days were dull, but now the game has exploded. It is clear that Teimour and Shakh are on friendly terms at any time control, but there would still be some 2-3 interesting games per round. With players not shying away from uncorking opening novelties, the event is by far superior to that of Sharjah,” was Emil Sutovsky’s train of thoughts on this account, a point of view that is hard to disagree with.


Friends from Baku

Shakh and Teimour won their round four games as Black. Both players scored after some fierce struggle.


Saleh - Mamedyarov (Round 4)

White’s compensation for the missing pawn is superb, 31.Nd3! looking great for that matter. The Arab player, however, opted for another provocative move only to run into a central blow.  

31.h4 Nxe4! 32.Re1? 

While 32.Bxe4? fails to 32...Qxd1, it is not so easy to calculate that after 32.Qxe4 Bd5 33.Qe2 Bxe5 34.Bxd5 Rxd5 35.Rb1!! Rb5 (bad is 35...Bg7? 36.Qe8+ Kh7 37.Qxf7, 35...Bf6?? loses to 36.Qe8+ Kg7 37.Rxb7) 36.Rxb5 cxb5 37.dxe5 Qxa1, White is saved by both 38.Qxb5 and 38.e6.  


Being down two pawns is a grim prospect; therefore, Saleh comes up with a knight sacrifice that almost resulted in his rescue.  

33.Nxg6!? fxg6 34.Rxe6 Qxa1 35.g5 hxg5 36.hxg5 Nh5?

With the time control move looming large, Shakh refused 36...Nh7! due to his probable overlook of White’s followup on move 39.  

37.Bxh5 gxh5 38.Re7 Rf8  


This is an excellent resource! The black king can escape the perpetual only at the cost of own rook.  

39…Kxg7 40.Qe5+ Kg6

Since after 40...Kg8 41.Qe6+ there is no 41…Rf7 due to 42.g6, Black has to tread a rather sophisticated path.  

41.Qd6+ Kxg5 42.Qg3+!

Was it this tricky geometry that escaped Mamedyarov's attention after all? As opposed to 42.Qxf8 Qxd4, the black king has to take to feet now much line Napoleon did when fleeing back to France and leaving all his food and ammunition carts behind.  

42...Kh6 43.Qd6+ Kg7 44.Qg3+ Kf7 45.Qf4+ Ke6 46.Qe5+ Kd7 47.Qg7+ Kc8 48.Qxf8+ Kc7 49.Qe7+ Kb6 50.Qc5+?!

Saleh collapses with only one simple task to solve to make it to safety: 50.d5! cxd5 51.Qd6+ Ka7 52.Qxd5 Qg7+ 53.Kf1 with an obvious draw.  

50...Ka6 51.f4?

It was not yet late to go for 51.Qc4+ Ka7 52.d5.  

51...Qa2+ 52.Kg3 Qe2?

So much for those delicate queen endings! Mamedyarov misses 52...Qb3+! 53.Kh4 (53.Kh2 h4) 53...Qf3 with excellent winning prospects. Now the Arab Emirates grandmaster succeeds in pushing his main hope, the f-pawn, as far as possible.  

53.f5 Qg4+ 54.Kh2 Qf4+ 55.Kg2 Qe4+ 56.Kh2 Qf3 57.Qe5 h4 58.f6 b5  


This is a fatal blunder. Holding position together was 59.Qe6 h3 60.Qc8+ Kb6 61.Qb8+ since 61…Ka5? fails to 62.Qa7+ Kb4 63.Qg7, and the queen is posted ideally in terms of both defending his king and helping promote the passer. Saleh takes his queen directly to g7, but loses many pawns while doing so.  

59...b4 60.Qg7 Qf2+ 61.Kh3 Qe3+ 62.Kg2 Qe4+ 63.Kh2 Qxd4! 

Pinning the f6-pawn at that. The rest is simple.  

64.Kh3 b3 65.Qf7 b2 66.Qa2+ Kb6 67.Qb3+ Kc7 68.f7 Qf4 69.f8R Qxf8 70.Qxb2 Qf4 71.Kg2 c5, and White resigns.  

Vallejo Pons – Radjabov (Round 4)


There is no standing still strategy for White as the black knight is on his way to the center after 19.Kb1 Nc7. Therefore, Francisco prefers to die standing than live on his knees from a positional point of view.

19.Nf5+!? gxf5 20.gxf5+ Kh8 21.Qg5?

This queen dump into attack is, in fact, a misplacement that grants Teimour with a valuable game-winning tempo. Better is 21.Rg3! Rg8 (21...f6? fails to 22.Rdg1 Ra7 23.Qh6) 22.Rdg1 Rxg3 23.Rxg3 Qf8!? (once again, there is no 23...f6 due to 24.Qh6 Ra7 25.Rg6 Ba6 26.Nxe5) 24.Nxe5 f6 25.Ng4, – even though a piece is superior to a pair of pawn, the struggle is not over yet.  

21...Ra7 22.Rg4 f6 23.Qh6 Rff7 24.Rdg1 Rg7 25.Rxg7 Nxg7 26.Ng5 Ne8 27.Nf3 Ba6!

A hasty 27... Rg7?? 28.Rxg7 Nxg7 29.Ng5 leads to a disaster for black, but Radjabov was precise in evaluating his ability to deliver a precision air strike against the white camp.  

28.Rg6 Rf7 29.Ng5


The bishop is untouchable, and 30.Nxf7+ Bxf7 is hopeless for White either. However, after  

30.f4 exf4 31.e5 Qe7 32.Nxf7+ Bxf7 33.Rg1 Bxa2 34.e6 f3 35.Qf4 Bd5 36.Qb8 c4 37.Kd2 c3+ 38.bxc3 bxc3+ 39.Kc2 a3 40.Rg4 a2 the white king ended up in a mating net himself.

A balm for the Russian fans’ hearts

Many the of Russian folk tales feature a mighty warrior laying idle for much of his lifetime, then coming back to life all of a sudden to battle the villains. Alexander Grischuk started by effortlessly knocking out Yifan with the black pieces, whereas the previous round saw a French knight Vachier-Lagrave miraculously escape his sword.

Grischuk – Vachier-Lagrave ( Round 4)

How hard it must have felt for Alexander when the game was over. Thus, following something as simple as 32.Re3 Qd7 (32...Ng4 33.Re8#) 33.Qe2 Black has virtually no move to make while White starts by recapturing on g2…

32.Qf3 Kf8 33.c5 dxc5 34.Bxc5+ Kg8 35.Qf5 Qxf5 36.Nxf5 g6 37.Nd6 Rc7 38.Ne8

Also very easy winning is the endgame arising after 38.Nc4, but Grischuk, being in a time pressure traditional for him, takes a sudden course for a rook ending, which is known to be a weaker side's best option.  

38...Rd7 39.Nxf6+ Bxf6 40.Re8+ Kg7 41.Bf8+ Kh7 42.d6 Bg7 43.Re7 Rd8!  

This move allows not going down immediately, and gives rise to an endgame in which the weak kingside pawns prevent the Russian from achieving the coveted goal.  

44.Bxg7 Kxg7 45.Rxb7 Rxd6 46.Kxg2 Rd4 47.Kf3 g5 48.Ke3 Rf4 49.Rb6 f5!


It is a pity that the king cannot make it to the queenside, and should the a6 and b4 pawns be traded off to let the rook pawn reach a7, it is still a draw. Vachier-Lagrave commits his kingside pawns to f5 and g4 so that he is not to be put in zugzwang as the king has g7 and h7 squares at his disposal, whereas taking on g4 is answered by Black’s precise and timely f5-f4.  

Although Grischuk devises another plan, he ends up with doubled rook pawns, same as Fischer in his famous game against Botvinnik.  

50...Rxb4 51.Ra7+ Kg6 52.a6 Ra4 53.Ra8 g4 54.f4 gxf3 55.Kxf3 Kg7 56.Kg3 Rg4+ 57.Kf3 Ra4 58.h3 Kh7 59.Kg3 Kg7 60.h4 Rg4+ 61.Kh3 Ra4 62.h5 Kh7  

This is indeed a mirror of that 1962 Varna battle ending. Only back then, it was Bobby Fischer to be up a pawn and with the black pieces.  

63.Kg3 Kg7 64.Kf3 Kh7 65.Ke3 Kg7 66.Kd3 f4 Draw.  

Such a disappointment could have dispirited any other player but Alexander Grischuk.

Hou Yifan – Grischuk (Round 5)


White has offered a trade of queens, but Alexander’s precise rejoinder reveals the precariousness of the white queen's placement.  

23…Qe8! 24.Qb7 Rb8 25.Qa7 Ra8 26.Qb7 Rb8 27.Qa7 d5  

Having repeated moves to gain time, Black carries out a central breakthrough.  

28.exd5 Nxd5 29.Bc5 Ra8 30.Qb7 Rb8 31.Qa7 Ra8  

This is Botvinnik's rule (yet another reference to Mikhail Moiseevich!) in action to unnerve Hou by a possible threefold repetition, upon which Grischuk switches to a queen-winning plan.  

32.Qb7 Bxc5+ 33.Rxc5 Rb8 34.Qxf7+

Although the 34.Qa7 Ne3 35.Rf2 Nxg2 36.Rxg2 Qxa4 37.Rxa5 Qg4 line is bad for White, there is still some fight ahead. However, with the queen is off the board there is no hope at all.  

34...Rxf7 35.Bxd5 Kh8 36.Rfc1

Or 36.Bxf7 Qxf7, upon which the queen has an easy job of doing away with the weak white pawns.  

36...Rd7 37.Bc6 Qd8 38.Bxd7 Qxd7 39.Ne4 h5 White resigns.

Ding Liren - Svidler (Round 4)

Demonstrating an inspirational performance in Moscow, Ding Liren had a good opportunity to put Peter Svidler up against major problems, but the decisive moment had him missing a tactical nuance of trapping a black rook. 


Some very attractive lines arise after 22.Nb7! Qe5 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Qc7! Qd7 (24...Nc6 fails to 25.Nd6) 25.Qc3! Re2 (there is no was out as 25...Ra2 loses material after 26.Nc5 Qd6 27.Qb3) 26.Nc5 Qd6 27.Bf3 Ra2 28.Qb3, and White wins.  

22...Be8 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Qe3 Qxe3 25.fxe3 Rc2 26.d4 e5!  

A well-timed advance that boosts the black pieces' activity to counterbalance the missing pawn. 

27.Rd1 exd4 28.exd4 Nc6 29.Bf1 Nxd4 30.Rxd4 Rxc5 31.Rd8 Re5 32.Bb5

32.Ra8 Rxe4 33.a5 Re7 34.Bb5 Kf8 35.Kf2 Re5 36.Bc6 Re6! results in a draw as well  

32...Kf8 33.Ra8 Rxe4, and the opponents shook each other’s hands as a sign of peace.

The pursuers are on the alert

Following Salem Saleh's heroic start, the tough professionals picked up the keys to the Arab player and started "offending" him.

Vachier-Lagrave - Saleh (Round 5)  

Caro-Kann Defence

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qe2!?

In the line 5.Nxf6+ exf6 and with a knight committed to f3, White has a standard c3, Bd3, Qc2 plan no longer. Black's advantages have been demonstrated in many classical games, so that even such a titan as Sergey Karjakin faced problems in his duel against Baadur Jobava.  

This queen maneuver has become popular lately in connection with transposing into a favorable endgame.  

5...Nxe4 6.Qxe4 Qd5

The point is that 6...Nd7?! is no longer a good idea due to 7.Bc4 Nf6 8.Ne5! e6 9.Qe2, but they also tested 6...Be6!? 7.b3 Bd5 8.Qe3 Nd7 9.Bb2 e6 10.0–0–0 Bc5 11.d4 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Be7 with a complex play, as in Vallejo - Eljanov, 2014.  


In the case of an alternative 7.Qf4 Qf5 8.Qe3, Black is able to choose between 8…Qe6 and a "greedy" 8...Qxc2 9.Bd3 Qa4 10.b3 Qb4. 

7...Qe6+ 8.Be2 Qg4

With the g4 queen's sortie bringing no success, future games are likely to see Black challenging White with 8...Qg6!? 9.0–0 Qxc2.  

9.Qg3 Qxg3 10.hxg3 Bf5 11.b3 a5?!

The endgame is favorable for White. 11...Bxc2 fails to 12.d3, whereas after 11...Nd7 12.Bb2 e6 13.0–0–0 h6 White can go on increasing his active play with 14.Nh4 Bh7 15.g4! Rg8 16.Nf3 Bg6 17.Nh4 Bh7 18.Rde1 0–0–0 19.f4!, with pressure, as in Howell - Swain.  

A pseudoactive play of Salem's has only increased his lag in development. This is a rare case of a mighty UAE grandmaster's brigade having a preparation disaster like this.  

12.Bb2 h6 13.0–0–0 a4  

14.Nd4! Bc8

Maxime's performance is very strong: 14...Bh7 runs into 15.Bh5!, or 14...Bg6 15.f4 e6 16.g4. The upstart bishop has to make it back home.  

15.Rde1 axb3 16.axb3 Nd7 17.Nf5! Nf6 18.g4 Be6 19.f4 Rg8 20.Ne3! g6

Black has to resign himself to creating a weak pawn since 20...Nd5 21.f5 Bd7 22.Nxd5 cxd5 23.Bf3 Bc6 24.Bd4 is unacceptable for him. 

21.f5 gxf5 22.gxf5 Bd7 23.Bf3 Kd8 24.Bd4!

This is yet another strong move that finished bringing all White's pieces into play. It turns out that there is no avoiding material losses for Black.  

24…Bg7 25.Kb2 Ne8 26.Bxg7 Nxg7 27.f6

There is no need to hurry and play 27.g4 instead, but Vachier-Lagrave has his opponent's pawns doubled on f6 to come in for it.  

27...exf6 28.Rxh6 Ne8

28...f5 29.Nc4   

29.d4 Kc7 30.d5! Rg5 31.Rd1 Ra6 32.b4  


32...b5 is a somewhat lesser evil, but with time pressure looming large, Saleh has a glimpse of what he believes to be a counterstrike coming his way.  

33.Rxf6 cxd5 34.Rxd5 Rxd5 35.Bxd5 Nc4+?? 36.Bxc4. Bishop moves out of the knight fork's way on d5, forcing Black to resign.  

Winning his game as well was Boris Gelfand. It was more than just a game, but yet another showcase for a new edition of his already legendary book "Taking Positional Decisions in Chess"!

Gelfand - Harikrishna (Round 6)

23.b3! c5?!

The passive strategy allows White to build up pressure on the kingside after 23...Rc7 24.h4, but Pentala's active play leaves him with a number of weakened squares.  

24.d5! exd5 25.Nxd5 Rd6

Black's hardships are best demonstrated by 25...Nxd5 26.exd5 bxa4 27.bxa4 Qc7 28.Nc6! On the other hand, the awkward d6-rook position is exploited by Gelfand tactically.   

26.axb5 Qxb5 27.Nxf7! Kxf7?

Although better is 27...Rxd5!? 28.Nxh6+ gxh6 29.exd5 Bg7 (29...Kg7 30.Rc4) 30.d6, a rook and pawns is superior to minor pieces anyway.  

28.e5 Re6 29.exf6 g6 30.Re1 Qc6 31.Rxe6 Qxe6 32.Ra1


There is a nice combination available after 32...Rd8 33.Rd1 Qf5 34.Qe2! Rxd5 35.Qc4 Ke6 36.g4! Qe5 37.f4! Qd6 38.Qe4+, claiming the pinned rook. Instead, Black prefers transposing into a grave endgame.  

33.Rxa5 Qxf3+ 34.Kxf3 Rb8 35.Ke4 Rxb3 36.Ra7+ Ke6 37.Nf4+?!

Stronger is 37.Ra6+ Kf7 38.f4! Rb1 39.Ne3 Re1 40.Kf3 g5 41.Ng4, but now White has to come up with precise moves to convert his edge.  

37...Kxf6 38.Ra6+ Kf7 39.Ra7+ Kf6 40.Ra6+ Kf7 41.Nxg6 Bg7 42.f4 Rb2 43.h4  


Harikrishna allows his h-pawn fixed on h6, which spells its doom. In the case of 43...h5!? 44.Kf5 Rb3 45.Ra7+ Kg8 46.g4 hxg4 47.Kxg4 Rb1 48.Rc7 the c-pawn is most likely to drop, while the presence of minor pieces is clearly to White's advantage, but a tough fight could be put up nonetheless.  

44.Kf3 Rg1 45.h5! c4 46.Ra7+ Kg8 47.Ne7+ Kf8 48.Ng6+ Kg8 49.Rc7 Rc1 50.Ne7+ Kf8 51.Nf5 Bb2 52.Rc8+ Black resigns.  

Ian Nepomniachtchi's swings

Ian Nepomniachtchi has so far failed to uncork his play. Caissa smiled at the talented grandmaster in round four as his duel with a "spiderman" had the latter tied up in a cobweb himself.

Adams - Nepomniachtchi (Round 4)


In lieu of a typical "spider-like" 25.Nb2 Rc8 (neither 25...Nc5 26.Bxc5 dxc5 27.Bf1! nor 26...Qxc5 27.Bf1 seem to promise good prospects to Black) 26.Nd3 with a small but nagging pressure, which would otherwise be Adams' customary weapon of choice, Mickey suddenly carries out an incomprehensible bishop maneuver.  

25...Nf6 26.Bg2 Bd7 27.Nb2 Bc6 28.Nc4

The pawn is under attack, as simple as that. Meanwhile, 28.f3 d5 is bad for White. 

28...Bxe4, which left Ian up material that he went on to convert effectively.  

However, two rounds later Nepomniachtchi was faced off with his principled opponent Hikaru Nakamura. A debt owned from back the World Cup was to be returned, but Ian failed to come back at his opponent this time around.

Nakamura - Nepomniachtchi (Round 6)  

Sicilian Defense

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.a3 Nc6 9.Nb3 Be7 10.Qd2 0–0 11.0–0–0 Rd8 12.Bd3 h6 13.h4 Bd7 14.Qe2


This desperado-bishop is not an infrequent guest in the Rauzer Variation, although I have never known it for the following resource mentioned by many commentators: 14...h5!? 15…Bxf2! (nothing is achieved by either 15.e5 dxe5 16.fxe5 Ng4 or 15.f5 Ng4 16.Rdf1 Bf6) 15...Bxf6 16.Qxh5 Qe3+ 17.Kb1 Qxf4. Let me highlight, however, that after 18.Rdf1 Qe5 19.Qf3 Rf8 20.g4 Be7 21.g5 b5 22.Re1, intending 23.Nd5, White features a fierce attack, which means that the root causes of the collapse should be attributed to some earlier play by Black.  

The native of Moscow has resumed the threat of the bold bishop elimination, but Nakamura strikes first.  

15.e5! dxe5 16.fxe5 hxg5 17.exf6 Bxf6 18.hxg5 Bxg5+

White's attack is no less strong after 18...Bxc3 19.bxc3 Qc7 20.Rde1 Qf4+ (20...Ke7 21.Qe3 Rh8 22.Rhf1) 21.Kb1 Qxg5 22.Rh5 Qg3 23.Nc5 - the weakened c5-square makes itself felt in all lines.  

19.Kb1 Qe3

The immediate 19...Bh6 is refuted by a crushing 20.Rxh6! gxh6 21.Qd2 Be8 22.Ne4 Ke7 23.Nbc5 with a terrific onslaught by White.  

20.Qh5 Bh6 21.Rhf1 Be8 22.Rde1 Qg5 23.Qh3 Ne5

Although 23...f6 24.Ne4 Qh5 25.Qg3 Bf7 26.Nbc5 is not acceptable for Black, Hikaru invades the fatal c5-square anyway.  

24.Nc5 Kg8


25.Nxe6! fxe6

There is no atoning with an exchange sacrifice: 25...Rxd3 26.cxd3 fxe6 27.Qxe6+ Nf7 28.Nd5. 

26.Qxe6+ Nf7 27.Bg6 Kh8 28.Bxf7 Bxf7 29.Qxf7 Qxg2 30.Rg1 Qd2 31.Rd1

White has restored material balance, while up a pawn and with a safer king. 31.Ne4, intending 31…Qd7 32.Rxg7, is a faster way to succeed. 

31...Qf4 32.Qxb7 Rdb8

The h6-bishop is Black's doom: 32...Qc4 33.Qg2 Rxd1+ 34.Rxd1 Re8 35.Nd5 Re2 36.Qg6.  

33.Qe4 Qf8  

The endgame is lost, but the presence of queens ends the game immediately.  

34.Rg6 Ra7 35.Qd4 with a decisive fork.

A Chance Missed by the Hand of the East

Round six was marked by battles of friends: Grischuk-Svidler and Radjabov-Mamedyarov. Those grandmaster draws were well compensated by a fierce battle of Ding Liren and Vachier-Lagrave. Ding's performance in the Russian capital is perfect as he is obviously determined to become the first Chinese player in the chess history to make it into the Candidates tournament. He has underperformed somewhat, if we recall his missed opportunity against Svidler.

Ding Liren – Vachier-Lagrave (Round 6)  

English Opening


White's compensation for the exchange is more than sufficient, and following an unsophisticated 26.Be4 a good advice would have been beyond price for Maxime.  

26.Bb2? Nf3?

The Frenchman, in his turn, would for some reason not trade the White's active pieces with 26...Nxf4 27.exf4 Nxg6 28.Qxg6 Qd7.  

27.Bh5! Nxf4 28.gxf4 Rd2 29.Qc3 Nxh2+ 30.Kg1?

A huge advantage is gained by 30.Ke1!! Rd7 31.Qc6 Kg8 32.Be2 Rfd8 33.Qxa6, whereas now a forced sequence of moves results in an ending that gravitates towards a draw heavily. 

30...Rxf4! 31.Qxg7+

The naive 31.exf4? Qe1+ 32.Kxh2 Rxf2+ 33.Kh3 Qh1+ 34.Kg4 Rg2+ 35.Kf5 Qxh5+ 36.Ke6 Qe8+ 37.Kd5 Rd2+! 38.Qxd2 (38.Kc5 Qe7+ 39.Kc4 Qe4+ is even worse) 38...Qd7+ 39.Kc4 Qxd2 is an immediate downfall for White as the queen dominates the board.  

31...Qxg7+ 32.Bxg7+ Kxg7 33.exf4 Kh6 34.Kxh2

The line 34.Be8 Ng4 35.Ra7 Rxf2 36.Rxa6+ Kh7 37.f5 Ra2 38.f6 Nxf6 39.Rxf6 Rxa3 results in a canonical ending "rook and bishop versus rook", but nowadays everyone seems to know the "Cochrane position". What about you, dear reader?  

34...Kxh5 35.Rxc7 Kg4 36.Kg2 Rd3 37.f3+


A brilliant decision by Vachier-Lagrave, who demonstrated a passionate defense that day.  In lieu of 37...Kxf4 38.Rc4+ Kf5 39.Ra4 Rd6 40.Kg3 with a gruelling struggle for a draw ahead, Maxime comes up with an arithmetic sequence to bail out.  


Thus, after 38.Rc5+ Kh4 39.f5 Rd2+ 40.Kf1 Kg3! (40...Kg5 41.Ra5) 41.Ke1 Black grabs both white f-pawns: 41…Rd3 42.Ke2 Rxf3 43.Ra5 Rf2+ 44.Ke3 Rf3+ 45.Kd4 Kg4! 46.a4 Rf4+ 47.Kc5 Rxf5+ 48.Kb6 Rf6+ 49.Kb7 Kf4 50.Rxa6 Rf7+ 51.Kb6 Ke5. This is what an active king stands for after all!  

Even though Ding was aware of it, there was no other way to try his luck.  

38...Rd4 39.Rc5+ Kh4 40.Kf2 Rxa4 41.Ke3 a5 42.Rg5 Ra3+ 43.Ke4 Ra4+ 44.Ke5 Rb4! 45.Rg4+ Kh5 46.f5 Rb5+ 47.Ke6 Rb6+ 48.Ke7 Rb7+ 49.Ke6 Rb6+ 50.Kf7 Rb7+ 51.Kg8 Rb8+ 52.Kg7 Rb7+ Draw.  

The tournament standings after round 6 are as follows:

1-2. Ding Liren, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - with 4 points; 3-8. Peter Svidler, Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Boris Gelfand - with 3.5; 9-11. Anish Giri, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Jon Ludwig Hammer - with 3; 12-16. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Pentala Harikrishna, Hou Yifan, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Salem Saleh - 2.5; 17. Michael Adams - 2; 18. Ernesto Inarkiev - 1.5. 

As tradition has it, the most interesting is still in store for us in the final rounds!