Ding Liren has made history by becoming China’s first men’s world chess champion.
The 30-year-old grandmaster defeated Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi in a rapid-play tiebreaker on Sunday at the World Chess Championship in
Both players each won three matches and registered eight draws in the opening 14 games. Ding will receive 1.1 million Euros (approximately $1.2 million), or 55% of the total 2 million euros (approximately $2.2 million) prize money, while Nepomniachtchi will get 900,000 euros (approximately $992,000), or 45%.
The Chinese chess star is now the 17th winner of the world chess tournament, succeeding five-time champion and current chess world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. Norway’s Carlsen decided not to defend his title, a year after he accused an opponent from the U.S. of cheating.
Ding, a native of China’s “chess city” of Wenzhou, became China’s youngest chess champion at the national level in 2009. At second place in the world rankings, he is currently the highest-ranked Chinese player.
Ding shared after the match that he was relieved after going through a tough tournament.
“The moment Ian resigned the game was a very emotional moment. I couldn’t control my feelings. I know myself, I will cry and burst into tears,” he was quoted saying.
Ding follows in the footsteps of Xie Jun, who became the first Chinese person to claim a world title in 1991 in the women’s category.
Ding’s win ignited a celebration among chess fans and fellow athletes in China.
Chinese grandmaster Anish Giri led the congratulatory messages with the tweet: “One Ding to rule em all.” Meanwhile, China’s General Administration of Sport praised Ding for “winning glory for the motherland and its people.”
China currently holds both the men’s and women’s world titles, with women’s champion Ju Wenjun
set to defend her title against compatriot Lei Tingjie in July.