I'm supporting Ding Liren in the Candidates, so I'm frustrated at his round 3 game:

[FEN ""]
[Event "FIDE Candidates 2022"]
[Site "Madrid ESP"]
[Date "2022.06.19"]
[EventDate "2022.06.16"]
[Round "3"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Ding Liren"]
[Black "R Rapport"]
[ECO "D86"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2764"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[startply "44"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O b6 11. Rc1 Bb7 12. Bb5 Rc8 13. Qd2 cxd4 14. cxd4 Qd6 15. Rfd1 Qb4 16. Qd3 e6 17. h4 Rfd8 18. Bg5 Nxd4 19. Bxd8 Rxd8 20. h5 Be5 21. a4 Kg7 22. Kf1 Nxe2 23. Qxe2 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 a6 25. Bxa6 Bxa6 26. Qxa6 Qxe4 27. Re1 Qd4 28. Qe2 Bf6 29. hxg6 hxg6 30. Qe4 Qd2 31. Re2 Qd1+ 32. Re1 Qd2 33. g3 Bd4 34. Qe2 Qc3 35. Rd1 Qc6 36. Qg4 e5 37. Rxd4 exd4 38. Qxd4+ Kg8 39. Qd8+ Kg7 40. Qd4+ Kg8 1/2-1/2

In this game, the computer says 23.Qxd8 gives white a heavy (if not outright winning) advantage. However, Ding Liren played 23.Qxe2 which makes me think the computer line might not be as advantageous for a human. Chessbase indicates it was played quickly:

The Chinese star had naturally foreseen this move and quickly replied with 23.Qxe2, when 23.Qxd8 is winning for White (see diagram below).
Carlos Alberto Colodro, Candidates R3: Ding’s missed chance, Chessbase, 20 June 2022.

I don't think this implies he rushed the move and made a mistake, more that he had already "mentally locked in" his reply.

I'm interested in why 23.Qxd8 wasn't played: if maybe it's risky for a human, and if Ding Liren has said anything about it.

Question: Why did Ding play 23.Qxe2 instead of 23.Qxd8?

  • 2
    Maybe Ding didn't have access to an engine and consequently was unaware that Qxd8 was the best move?
    – bof
    Jun 21, 2022 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


From chess.com's coverage of the round:

Well, if White takes that rook, Black will take on e4 with the queen and on g2 next, which does look scary to humans. Ding didn't like the complications that would come out of that and took back on e2 instead.


In addition to Allure's excellent answer, it's also worth noting that engines are far above even super GMs. Roughly speaking, Stockfish is to Ding what Ding is to a 2100-2200 player. So something that's blatantly obvious to Stockfish may not even occur to a super GM.

In this case Ding definitely considered 23.Qxd8 earlier on, but discarded it likely due to complications and/or not seeing some key variations down the road. But modern computers are calculation monsters who fear nothing.

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