The Chinese chess federation invited the United Chess Federation to send a male and female team to participate in a friendly China vs. USA match to be held in Ningbo, China from July 18 to July 28. The match consists of five classic time control games in Scheveningen style followed by ten rapid games in a double Scheveningen format. The invitation for the Americans came relatively late, but they were still able to put a strong team together despite the fact that they had less than two months notice.
The men are playing for a prize fund of $30,000 divided 60% to the winning team and 40% to the other. The women are playing for the same odds but for a prize fund of $20,000. Some American stars were missing from the line-up, namely Kamsky and Nakamura in the men and Zatonskih and Krush in the women, but nonetheless they still fielded a very competitive team. The Chinese were not afraid to send some of their top players, including Wang Yue in the men and Ju Wenjun in the women.
The American girls were kind enough to send us a gorgeous pictorial report of the event, as well as their impressions from the tournament:
Visit to Shanghai
China offered to reimburse all of the players and the head of delegations coming from America for their travel expenses, but due to the different schedules of the players as well as the different regions of the country they live in not all of them made it to Ningbo at the same time. Alisa Melekhina, Iryna Zenyuk, Sam Shankland and Tatev Abrahamyan came a few days early to acclimatize to the time difference and to tour around Shanghai, the biggest city that is close to Ningbo.
No matter where Americans go, they will find a Starbucks. Or five.
The players described most of the food as being excellent, despite not knowing what it was
The Chinese markets are a great palce to buy random things, as long as your haggling skills are top notch. Here Alisa Melekhina tries to not get ripped off.
America's third board and main photographer: Iryna Zenyuk
The Yu Gardens, a must visit in Shanghai
Iryna and Sam Shankland testing out the playing hall
A mix of modern American style and classical Chinese architecture
As per usual with the Chinese, the reception the guests have received has been amazing. The players have highly praised the hotel, playing conditions and the resources available to them to circumvent Ningbo despite the language barriers. A tournament in China would not be complete without a fabulous opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony dinner consisted of over 15 dishes
Viktoria Ni, Gregory Kaidanov, Sam Shankland and Alisa Melekhina enjoy a lot of food and a little bit of wine
On the left, captain of the delegation Stuart Chagrin, president of the Marshall Chess Club
The players were treated to a very classical peformance...
...a classical performance...
...and one not so classical performance.
Tatev Abrahamyan was dressed a little more festively than the other American girls...
The head of the American delegation, Marcus Fenner, executive director of the Marshall Chess Club, takes care of all the logistical stuff and lets the players focus on their task
As expected, China dominated the first portion of the match. The Chinese and American men were close in rating, with the Chinese leading by less than twenty points in average rating. However Wang Yue was an unstoppable force and scored an amazing 4.5/5 to give China a strong lead. In the Women's section the rating difference was strong, and the American girls could do very little to overcome it. Despite this almost all of the Americans are performing above their rating.
The Chinese players got small souvenirs from New York
America's number one against China's number one ended in a fighting draw
Sam Shankland started with a loss but recovered and is on 50%
Yuri Shulman has had some problems in this tournament and is at -4
China leads 31-19
Rest day in Ningbo
Tatev Abrahamyan has been the hero of the American team, scoring 3.5/5 and performing over 2600
Viktoria Ni, Marcus Fenner and Tatev Abrahamyan enjoying some time out in Ningbo's port
The team captain makes sure no one gets into too much trouble...
What do Americans want most after a week of authentic Chinese food?
Pizza, obviously, which Sam Shankland is in desbelief to have found
Ray Robson has had worse days in his life
The matches continue tomorrow with four rapid games. The US team still has a chance of coming back into the fight as only one third of the games have been played so far.
Replay all the classical games
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All pictures and information provided by Tatev Abrahamyan, Alisa Melekhina, Viktoria Ni and Iryna Zenyuk