Nanjing: Bu draws first blood in Super-GM

12/12/2008 – Aronian-Topalov and Ivanchuk-Svidler were drawn, but the Chinese GM and ex-prodigy Bu Xiangzhi outplayed Sergey Movsesian of Slovakia in an interesting endgame to pick up two pawns and take the full point. Before the games began there was a spectacular opening ceremony, like none that the chess journalist Leontxo Garcia has witnessed in 25 years. Here is his report from Nanjing.

2008 Pearl Spring Chess Tournament, Nanjing, China

Round 1: Thursday, 11 December 2008
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Sergei Movsesian 
0-1
 Bu Xiangzhi
Games – Report

Aronian,L (2757) - Topalov,V (2791) [D12]
Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (1), 11.11.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.g3 Bd6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Qc2 dxc4 12.Bxc4 c5 13.dxc5 Bxc5 14.Rd1 Rc8 15.Qb3 Qc7 16.Bf1 Be7 17.Bg2 Nc5 18.Qc2 Rfd8 19.Bd2 Nd3 20.Qb3 a6 21.Be1 Nxe1 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.Rxe1 b5 24.Rd1 g5 25.Ne2 Rxd1+ 26.Qxd1 Nd7 27.Qc1 Qxc1+ 28.Nxc1 Kf8 29.Kf1 Bd6 30.Ke2 Ke7 31.Nd3 Ne5 32.Bb7 Nxd3 33.Kxd3 a5 34.b3 a4 35.Bc6 axb3 36.axb3 b4 37.h3 f5 38.Kc4 Kf6 39.g4 g6 draw. [Click to replay]


Before the start of the game Aronian vs Topalov (with Ivanchuk and Svilder looking over in the background)

Ivanchuk,V (2786) - Svidler,P (2727) [C99]
Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (1), 11.11.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Nb3 a5 15.Be3 a4 16.Nbd2 Bd7 17.Rc1 Qb7 18.Nf1 h6 19.Ng3 Rfe8 20.Qd2 exd4 21.Bxh6 Ne5 22.Bg5 Nxf3+ 23.gxf3 Bxh3 24.Qxd4 Nh7 25.Bxe7 Qxe7 26.f4 Qh4 27.Bd3 Re6 28.e5 Rd8 29.Rcd1 Rh6 30.Bxb5 Bg4 31.Rd3 Nf8 32.exd6 Ne6 33.Qe5 Qh2+ 34.Kf1 Qh3+ 35.Kg1 Qh2+ 36.Kf1 Qh3+ 37.Kg1 Qh2+ draw. [Click to replay]


Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk


Peter Svidler, grandmaster from St Petersburg

Movsesian,S (2732) - Bu Xiangzhi (2714) [C24]
Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (1), 11.11.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bd6 6.Nc3 dxe4 7.Ng5 0-0 8.Ncxe4 Nxe4 9.Nxe4 Bf5 10.Qf3 Bxe4 11.dxe4 Nd7 12.c3 a5 13.0-0 a4 14.Bc2 Qe7 15.Rd1 Rfd8 16.h4 h6 17.g3 b5 18.Bd2 Nf8 19.Qg4 Qe6 20.Qxe6 Nxe6 21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Be1 Ke7 23.Rd2 g5 24.hxg5 hxg5 25.Bd1 b4 26.Bg4 bxc3 27.bxc3 Rab8 28.Rad1 Nc5 29.f3 a3 30.Bf2 Na4 31.Be3 f6 32.c4 Nb2 33.Rc1 Bb4 34.Rh2 Rh8 35.Rxh8 Rxh8 36.Kg2 Rd8 37.Rh1 Nxc4 38.Rh7+ Kd6 39.Ba7 c5 40.Bh5 Ba5 41.Rf7 Kc6 42.Rxf6+ Kb5 43.Kh3 Rh8 44.g4 Ra8 45.Rf7 Nd6 46.Rd7 Kc6 47.Rh7 Bb4 48.f4 exf4 49.e5 Nc8 50.e6 Kd6 51.Rh8 Kxe6 52.Bg6 Kd5 53.Rd8+ Kc4 54.Bf5 Rxa7 55.Rxc8 Kc3 56.Rc6 Kb2 57.Be6 Re7 58.Kg2 Rxe6 0-1. [Click to replay]


The only winner in round one: Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi


Suffered a first-round defeat with the white pieces: Sergey Movsesian of Slovakia


Report from Nanjing

By Leontxo García

This is my second visit to China. Probably the reader will laugh if you consider the most curious first visit, almost ten years ago, when a Spanish company that had commissioned me to go to Tiankín (ten million inhabitants, 120 km from Beijing) to test chess clocks. My workday consisted of going to a factory at eight o'clock in the morning, choosing a box from any stack in the warehouse, extract the clocks, take them to a table, where I met with eight or ten workers (many of them with the traditional "Mao-style" shirts) and coordinate the incessant pressing of the clock buttons, until five in the afternoon (except for a meal break) to gauge their resistance.

The transformation of China had already begun at the time, but then, compared to what I see here today, the difference is as great as that between the Spain of the seventies and the present. In 1999 there were still more bicycles than cars. Today, traffic jams during peak hours are fierce, indeed, there are still more bikes than in Spain, but not many more than in Holland. Indeed, traffic lights count down the seconds, and so you know if you have time to make a call, clean your nails, do your lips, take a bite from a snack before they turn green. It is a symbol of how the new Chinese capitalism, wild in appearance but fiercely controlled by a communist government, uses every second of time to continue growing at a brutal rate. But the crisis also looms for these individuals. Despite this, I am surprised that the price of gasoline is going down, because just the amount they are using here creates a tremendous demand.

And the differences in Nanjing (about 7.5 million inhabitants, in southeast China, 350 kilometers from Shanghai) are not just the traffic. The proliferation of highways, skyscrapers, neon lights, luxury department stores, cell phones, clothing, Western multinational ads (107 companies are based in Nanjing), McDonalds restaurants, supermarkets Ikea furniture, etc. are such that if you take away the signs in Chinese and switch to people from another country, you could be in any large city in Europe or America.

That is the feeling you have when you look out of the car after crossing one of kilometer long bridges which took ten years to construct and which cross the majestic Yangtze River, one of the largest in the world. But the real China remains almost intact inside: in its rich history, in the refinement of its art, the delicacy of its food, the different types of tea, and especially in the extraordinary sensitivity and delicacy of its people.

Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures have many things in common since time immemorial – although that has not stopped wars and horrific massacres, like "the slaughter of Nanjing", which claimed 300,000 lives at the hands of the Japanese in 1937. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century the Imperial troops (Nanjing was the capital of China for ten dynasties) destroyed the Porcelain Tower, one of the wonders of the world at the time. One of the values in this part of the world was that cultivated people had to have a broad knowledge of music, mental sports, poetry and painting.

Mental sports for the masses in these countries have always been "Go" and variants of chess (Chinese, Korean and Japanese or Shogi). A lot of money was involved, so much so that there was no special interest in exporting them to the West because the indigenous market was big enough. On the other hand the import of Western chess is going ahead at full speed. Today, during lunch, Ignatius Leong, General Secretary of FIDE, told me that he had recently visited Korea and Vietnam, where the infrastructure has been created to do serious and powerful teaching of chess in the entire region. If you remember the Vietnamese players who have climbed on the podium at the recent World Under 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 and 8 championships, you will understand that this is the result of such planning. And the same can be said about India, where the successes of Viswanathan Anand bring about a rain of medals each year. The future of chess is where he was born, in Asia, more than anywhere else, although Japan is still an almost virgin territory, because Shogi still sweeps the nation.

When the Nobel laureate in economics Robert Mundell, a Canadian known as the "Father of the Euro", visited Nanjing a few years ago, he said that the best way for Chinese cities to show their openness to the world is by organizing chess tournaments, because of their value for intelligence, harmony, universality, history and adaptation to the Internet. And here we are: with a new tournament that is born to live at least five years, with the likelihood that it enters the Grand Slam, with a prize fund of 250,000 Euros for six players. The only thing that puzzles me is that the venue, an excellent hotel, is some 60 kilometers of highway from the city center and thus not easily reached by spectators. Try to learn why this was decided.

Splendid Inauguration

The eleven-hour flight from Frankfurt to Nanjing was shared with half a dozen chess people: Levon Aronia and Arianne Caoili (his girl-friend), Veselin Topalov, Silvio Danailov (Topalov's agent and coach), Paco Vallejo (Topalov's second) and Boris Kutin, president of the European Chess Union. I was curious to know how we would be received, but could not imagine what actually happened: a delegation of ten people were waiting for us at the airport, before passport control, so that all formalities became easier. A procession of cars, escorted by police with sirens and lights, drove us for nearly an hour to the hotel, always in the left lane of the highway; several authorities, many volunteers and a large hotel staff, standing in military formation, were there to receive us when we entered the lobby. The rest, including the quality of the Internet, food and rooms, operated at the same level of hospitality.

The most memorable experience so far has been the opening ceremony, the best I've seen in my 25 years as a chess journalist (and Kutin, who has seen many more tournaments than me, said the same thing). I refer of course to chess events, because if we talk about other sports it will be difficult to surpass in the next hundred years what the Chinese did last August 8 in Beijing for the gala opening of the Olympic Games.

The Center for Culture and Arts, a huge theater packed with 1,000 spectators (including many students), provided a dozen performances by musicians and dancers, at the highest level, all wonderfully colorful in their costumes, and with a choreography bordering on perfection. Earlier, six players (or rather, five, because the confused Ivanchuk did not arrive until three hours before the first round – Boris Kutin had to take his place) dressed in black Chinese style suits, each taken by the hand by a little girl, went up to the stage to give a short speech and choose a number for the seeding of the tournament. This, after listening in great solemnity to the Chinese national anthem, together with great personalities and the vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.


Levon Aronia, Boris Kutin (representing Vassily Ivanchuk), Veselin Topalov and three lovely Chinese girls


Veselin Topalov in his Chinese suit


Peter Svidler thanks the organisers for the invitation


The start of the stage presentations


Young girls in beautifully choreographed musical and dance presentations


A quartette of Chinese singers


The Center for Culture and Arts provided a dozen performances by musicians and dancers...


... all at the highest level, all wonderfully colorful in their costumes...


... and with a choreography bordering on perfection.


A number with the chess theme


The drawing of the start numbers: top seed Topalov gets the six


Here we cannot resist quoting chess humorist Mig Greengard's seriously funny caption: "Aronian desecrating a sacred symbol, observed with horror by one of China's gold medal winning Olympic women's gymnasts."

Back at the hotel former world champion Xie Jun was kind enough to sit next to me. She is just as charming as at the time when I interviewed her at the Manila Chess Olympiad in 1992. But now she has a different profession: she has an exceptionally talented six-year-old daughter whom she adores, she directs an agency in the region of Beijing which looks for and trains talents in international chess, Chinese chess and Go. She confesses that while she was still travelling a lot she considered settling down in Europe. But eventually she realized that we Europeans are too independent, she missed human warmth and the interdependence of compatriots for each other. She also told me that international chess is progressing very fast in China, although it is still a minority sport when compared to the 300 million Go players. Only three million play Western chess, with 300,000 federation players. But things are improving and soon International chess will overtake Chinese chess, "because the basic strategic concepts of both are similar, and the international version is more fun."

This quote gives me a good opportunity to close my diary and go to bed, to the sound of modern Chinese music. And to contemplate that in Nanjing, which is still known as "City of Stone", because of a famous wall, now destroyed, that for centuries protected the city, this chess tournament may break a wall so that chess floods into the country with the most populous and ambitious population on the planet. Judging from what I have seen, and the 300 people working in the organization, the push is going to be very strong.

Photos by Leontxo García and the tournament chess news blog


Schedule and results

First half

Round 1: Thursday, 11 December 2008
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Sergei Movsesian 
0-1
 Bu Xiangzhi
Games – Report
Round 2: Friday, 12 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Peter Svidler 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Levon Aronian 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Games – Report
Round 3: Saturday, 13 December 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Sergei Movsesian 
-
 Levon Aronian
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Peter Svidler
Games – Report
Round 4: Sunday, 14 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Peter Svidler
Levon Aronian 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Games – Report
Round 5: Monday, 15 December 2008
Sergei Movsesian 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler 
-
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report

Second half

Round 6: Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Games – Report
Round 7: Thursday, 18 December 2008
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Sergei Movsesian 
-
 Peter Svidler
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report
Round 8: Friday, 19 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Peter Svidler 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Games – Report
Round 9: Saturday, 20 December 2008
Peter Svidler 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Levon Aronian
Sergei Movsesian 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Games – Report
Round 10: Sunday, 21 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Levon Aronian 
-
 Peter Svidler
Games – Report

Links

The games will be being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.

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