Ding Liren - The Chinese Rising Star

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The Chinese rising star, 20 year old Ding Liren, has attracted the attention of the world. Who is he? What is his story? He looks very shy but he is willing to share with us. Well, let’s get to know him now.

- Zhang Jilin: What is the meaning of your name Liren? It’s kinda special to me.

- Ding Liren: It comes from the famous Confucius saying. ‘If you want to be established, establish others; if you want to be developed, develop others’. Liren means to establish others.

- Nice. Do you know whychess.com? Do you visit often?

- Yes. Sometimes I watch online games there and I really like the TWIC they made every week. It summarizes new and most interesting opening lines. It gave me some new ideas and saves lots of time.

- Tell us how you started to learn chess?

- Ok. I first learned to play chess when I was 4 years old. Back at that time Wenzhou was called the ‘Chess City’, so there was a very good atmosphere to play. My mother who worked as a nurse agreed with her colleague that they both take their sons to learn one kind of chess. By the way, my first chess friend Chen Yibo who is studying in Beijing University now is also here this time as an arbiter. Actually we could choose between Chinese chess and our chess. So we chose the international one.

- And what happened? Was playing chess easy for you?

- It wasn’t easy since I was the youngest one in our class. And I have to compete with opponents much older than me. I remember 1 year after I learned to play, I participated the U-6 group of national youth championship and took the first place. I was only 5 years old. And I played U-10 at age of 7, took 18th. Two years later, I was the Champion of U-10. Ever since then playing in Youth Championship was easy for me. From 9 to 17, I took the championship more than 6 times I think.

- What about International events? The World Youth Championship?

- I was twice runner-up in U-10 and U-12.

- When did you start to play in adult events? And how did you decide to become a professional chess player?

- That was the Zonal 2007. My rating was only 2289 but I took the 3rd place. Then my confidence grew. I started to play more adult tournaments. In 2008 I qualified for the National Championship Group A and 3 times I became national Champion in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Xinghua was a good place for me.

- Were you studying at the same time?

- Yes. I have been studying in school until the first year of high school. I prefer to play chess. I felt I wasn’t so interested in studying. I was always the best student before high school and was the representative in mathematics.  But in high school, things became more difficult for me because I was in the best high school in Wenzhou. I thought many students did better than me. So I spent most of my high school time playing chess. One year after I graduated from high school, I was lucky enough to enter Beijing University.

- So tell us about your Uni life. What is your major?

- I chose Law. It seems more interesting to me because I like to read detective novels. Also many professional chess players chose this major. But in reality it is boring sometimes.

- Are you going to do anything in the future regarding your university education?

- No. I will try my best to play chess, as long as I can.

- Is there anything fun in the campus? Do you get along with your schoolmates there?

- No really. I’m not like Wang Hao and Hou Yifan. They are both very active in group activities. I’m not an extrovert personality. I prefer to go back to the national team and play with old friends.

- How do you spend your spare time then?

- I like to play basketball. Or chat online with friends.

- Who is your favorite chess player?

- Vallejo. (why him?) I think his play is very interesting. Unfortunately he is already retired.

- What is your favorite color?

- Let me think, hmmm… Green. (why?) I don’t know. I choose green color all the time when playing computer games

- What is your favorite book?

- I like detective novels and I also buy different kind of books.

- Reading to you is more relaxing or studying?

- I just want to calm down. Everyday goes too fast now. You don’t have much time to do things. So I prefer to have some peaceful time reading. I just finished one book called To live. That’s something to me because I seldom finish reading a whole book.

- What is your favorite food?

- I don’t know. Especially in buffet, there are so many choices and I don’t know what to choose. (Probably Wenzhou cuisine?) Yes. That’s right. Hometown is the best.

- What do you think of the SportAccord Mind Games this time? Do you think you did well? How does it feel to play with these top players?

- I played well in the rapid games and took 4th place in the end. I think in rapid games they didn’t use their best openings and that’s why I had a chance. The blitz was a complete disaster.

- Why not blitz? What is the difference between you and these guys?

- I think they have better experience and they calculate really fast. It is just very hard for me to follow.

- What is your plan for the future?

- I prefer to play chess than to do other things. In school I really didn’t like study on my own, but I do like training very much.

- How many hours do you train on average?

- About 3-4 hours per day.

- What is your dream in Chess?

- I don’t have any particular dream. Just try my best to do it and take everything as it comes. I really don’t want to play too well and lose other things in life. It’s not worth it.

- What is more important to you? Psychological needs? Spiritual?

- I don’t know how to explain. For example,
if I got all this fame and wealth but had no friends in my life, that’s something I certainly don’t want.

- Ok. Now you have reached some certain level. What’s your next step? What do you plan to do to get better?

- I think I’m not stable enough, will try to work on that. Also, for some time, I don’t feel like taking any risk, I always choose the safer solution. I remember when I first took the national championship I was very relaxed and aggressive. I will try to bring it back and play some splendid games.

 

                                                                                                                                  Text and Photo: Zhang Jilin