Chess: checkmate in four and one line of play – can you solve it?

China’s Ding Liren is the favorite to challenge Magnus Carlsen’s world title in 2020, but this week the 26-year-old from Wenzhou faces a huge dilemma as the 1.6million World Cup knockout dollars to 128 players in Siberia reached its semi-finals.

The duos are Ding Liren (China) against Yu Yangyi (China) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) against Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan). Ding and Vachier-Lagrave are normally expected to meet in the final after defeating their lower-ranked opponents, but there is a serious complicating factor.

The two finalists will qualify as one of the eight candidates who will play in 2020 for the right to be Carlsen’s challenger later next year. Ding is also virtually assured of a qualification spot due to his high international ranking, but if he has double qualification, the World Cup route takes preference.

Ding’s dilemma is therefore also an opportunity. The place of candidates is Yekaterinburg, the former Sverdlovsk. Two top Russians can qualify through another route, and the organizers also have a wildcard slot, which could mean three Russians in the field of eight. But if Yu beats Ding this week, there will also be two Chinese players.

The games themselves are live Thursday and Friday (tie-breaks Saturday if needed) from 11am BST, and will reveal how Ding solves his dilemma.

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White forces checkmate in four moves, with one line of play (by Fritz Giegold, 1957). The puzzle challenge looks easy, but the answer is well hidden.

Click here for solution

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