Chinese Chess League concludes

by Alejandro Ramirez
1/2/2014 – The Chinese Chess League has come to an end and the team from Nankai University of Tianjin province has come out ahead. The event is played, like the Bundesliga, throughout the year and it was an amazing 22 rounds of chess! Most of the top players from China participated and some strong foreigners, including Motylev, Ponomariov, Malakhov and others boosted the teams. Report from Tianjin.

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The Yicheng Cup Chinese Chess League has come to an end in Tianjin, China. The tournament was a league event with strict rules on how many foreigners can play per team - many teams choose to be Chinese-only. The tournament plays several rounds on a weekend and then takes a few months break. It started on April 30th and it concluded on December 24th, and a total of 22 rounds of chess were played!

Each team could have a total of nine players, with five players fielded per match. All of the teams were competitive,

The event was incredibly close and the winner wasn't determined until the very last round. All but three of the teams had an average rating of over 2500 on their top boards! The pre-tournament favorites were Beijing, with their stars being Li Chao, Yu Yangyi and Xiu Deshun, Tianjin with Wang Yue, Ma Qun, Malakhov and Koneru and Jiangsu with Ponomariov, Riazantsev and Houyifan.

However Jianagsu never fielded Riazantsev nor Hou Yifan (scheduling conflicts) and Ponomariov only played four games, so it was difficult for them to keep up with the other teams. Shanghai had an awesome event despite not having any foreign players and only having a team of six! The same five players played 20 of the 22 rounds and they managed to almost win the event.

The prizes, lined up

A recognition to the best females

The winning team: Nankai University of Tianjin

Lu Shanglei (left) was the only half point that Zheijang scored against Beijing

Ponomariov (right) wasn't able to win a single game in the league, his 2.0/4 performance cost him 10 rating points

Wang Yue was key to Tianjin's success. He was their first board and scored 16.0/22 with a 2680 performance.

Malakhov was another bastion of Tianjin, also scoring 16.0/22 but a higher 2706 performance

Wang Jue is one of the talented and young Chinese girls. She is currently touring America playing the North American Open in Las Vegas and the Bay Area International in San Francisco

Yu Yangyi played for Beijing, and scored 14.5/22

Tianjin came into the last round with a point advantage over Shanghai. The matches are played on five boards, and with so many points at stake on a single match anything could happen. However both teams drew their matches (Tianjin against Chongqing and Shanghai againt Shandong) which gave the victory to Tianjin. Beijing's demolition of Zheijiang, one of the weaker teams in the league, allowed them to surpass Shanghai and take the second place of the event.

Koneru scored 9.0/12 but since she was a fourth board her opponent's average rating was rather low

Bu Xiangzhi, a hero in the recent World Team Championship, also performed great for Shandong

He had a 2721 performance and winning over eleven rating points. His only loss came to Wei Yi in round 15.

Zhao Xue had a very rough event. Only scoring +2 (12.0/22)

she lost a lot of rating due to the fact that her opponents were not quite of her calibre.

Rk. Team 1a 1b 2a 2b 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b 9a 9b 10a 10b 11a 11b 12a 12b  Pts. 
1 Tianjin  *   *  1 3 3 3 2 3 4 3 3 3 3 32
2 Beijing 4  *   *  2 3 3 2 3 3 3 4 2 3 31
3 Shanghai 2 3  *   *  2 2 3 3 3 3 4 3 31
4 Jiangsu 2 2 2 3 3  *   *  3 3 4 4 2 4 4 28
5 Chongqing 3 2 2  *   *  2 3 4 5 5 3 4 27
6 Shandong 3 2  *   *  2 2 4 2 5 3 3 27
7 Qingdao 2 ½ 2 2 2 2 3 3  *   *  4 1 3 2 3 3 20
8 Zhejiang 1 ½ 2 ½ 3 1 1 4  *   *  3 2 3 19
9 Guangdong 2 2 1 2 2  *   *  2 3 4 5 17
10 Hebei 2 ½ 2 2 1 2 1 3 1 0 3 ½ 3 2 3 3 2  *   *  2 3 13
11 Hubei 2 1 3 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 0 2 ½ 1  *   *  3 12
12 Qinhuangdao 2 ½ 2 1 ½ 2 1 2 2 2 0 3 2 2  *   *  7

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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