Today, Ding Liren of China bested Mikhail Tal’s legendary streak of 95 games played without a defeat.
Ding Liren’s unbeaten streak now stands at 96 and counting.
Tal’s mark was set between October of 1973 and October of 1974. Ding Liren’s streak is ongoing. He is currently playing in the Shenzhen Masters. Ding’s record over the course of his streak is 28 wins and 68 draws.
There are lengthier undefeated streaks in chess. The longest claim on record is from GM Sergei Tiviakov who played 110 games without defeat from 2004-2005. In these games, he confronted the likes of Aronian, Radjabov, Ivanchuk and Carlsen.
Tal’s previous record has been frequently cited due to the consistently elite strength of his opposition. Ding Liren’s opposition has been similarly fierce as in the course of run he has played the World Cup, FIDE Candidates’, Norway Chess, the Olympiad, and more. His performance has elevated him to the number-four spot in the world rankings.
A surprising 35 points separates Ding Liren from number five in the world, Anish Giri.
Amusingly Ding Liren tied Mikhail Tal’s record on Sunday against the same person who last defeated him, Anish Giri, on August 9, 2017.
Ding Liren today broke Tal’s mark in a drawn game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Ding Liren’s solidity has not restricted him to technical victories as one might imagine. He has won some of the most brilliant attacking games in the past year. Here are some of his notable achievements.
World Cup, September 2017: Technical Masterpiece
Ding Liren made it all the way to the final of the 2017 World Cup, where he only lost in the rapid tiebreaks to the winner, Levon Aronian. His path to the finals included victories over Wesley So, Richard Rapport, and more, but his win against his countryman Wang Hao made the strongest impression.
Although Ding Liren didn’t win the World Cup, he did secure a slot in the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament with his performance. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Chinese Chess League, November 2017: Ding’s Immortal
Stunning the world, this victory against Bai Jinshi was widely regarded as one of the best games of 2017. It made such an impression on Chess.com staff that it even made our list of the “Best Chess Games of All Time.“
20…Rd4!! is surely a chess move for the ages.
FIDE Candidates’, March 2018: Besting Mamedyarov
Ding Liren’s World Cup result secured him a spot in the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament, and although he wasn’t able to get a sufficient winning streak going to really contend for first, he did achieve a critical victory against one of the front-runners, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Mamedyarov has himself been one of the most impressive players of the past year. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Norway Chess, June 2018:
Ding Liren’s run of good fortune was stopped in Norway Chess, but his fortunes over the board did not change. In a cycling accident on the rest day, Ding fractured his hip, and he was forced to withdraw from the tournament. His recovery since has been slow but steady. At the Olympiad, he still relied heavily on crutches.
Chess Olympiad, October 2018: Dazzling Duda
Jan-Krzysztof Duda turned heads with his Speed Chess Championship victories over both Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk, but it was Ding Liren’s victory over Duda that was likely the game of the 2018 Olympiad. The game was also critical for the final standings as the Chinese team bested the leading Polish team, and eventually took home the gold medal in the Olympiad.
The Chess.com reporter Mike Klein caught up with Ding Liren just after this raucous game.
European Club Cup, October 2018: Near Miss Against Magnus
In Ding Liren’s last tournament, he found a nice combination against Magnus Carlsen and achieved a likely winning position. Carlsen narrowly eluded him, but had he won, he would have knocked Carlsen out of the number-one spot in the world rankings for the first time in seven years.
Chess.com extends our warm congratulations to Ding Liren on his historic achievement. Readers can follow Ding Liren’s games in our new Chess.com/events viewer. Simply enable beta in Chess.com/settings/beta to access the new interface.