Nigel Short takes Tai Yuan

7/27/2004 – After a bad spell the English Super-GM with a sometimes rating of 2700 has struck again, winning the GM tournament in Tai Yuan a full point ahead of the field. We called Nigel to ask him about this splendid victory, and also discuss some of the other events that are enthralling chess fans at the current time. Here's a transcript of the conversation.

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Tai Yuan GM Tournament

The Tai Yuan GM was held in China from July 17th to 26th July 2004, with a prize fund of $20,000. It was won by British GM Nigel Short, who finished a clear ahead of the field. In second place was Chinese GM Ni Hua, with France's top player Joel Lautier and Russia's Alexei Dreev equal 3-4.

Final standings


Nigel Short, 15 moves away from the overall victory, with a total of four wins, no losses and a blazing 2798 performance at the Tai Yuan GM


ACP president and sometime Kramnik-second Joel Lautier with eight draws and one win


Three wins and two losses for a 3-4 position: Alexei Dreev


Ex women's world champion Xie Jun against Short in the last round


China's top GM Ye Jiangchuan

All pictures by courtesy of the official web site. The information and links were provided by Fang Zhang, a chess fan, freelance writer, dramatist, poet and historian, who lives in Belgium.

Flash Interview with Winner Nigel Short

Immediately after the end of the tournament we found Nigel Short pottering around on the Playchess.com server. We arranged a phone call, bridging many thousands of miles, and a six-hour time difference. As usual it was worth the effort, with Nigel giving us his frank assessment of the tournament.

Frederic Friedel: So Nigel, you are winning tournaments again?

Nigel Short: Indeed. I seem to have had a very bad spell in May. I have a suspicion that I play very horribly in May because of my allergies. It may sound like a convenient excuse, but I would like to examine it empirically. You could ask Mr Sonas to do some statistics. Go back many years, see if my performance is in any way linked to the blooming of fruit-bearing plants. Now that's a useful thing to study!

Frederic: So in China there was nothing to upset your antibodies, and you went into the lead very early...

Nigel: Yep, took the lead in round one and never relinquished it after that. I was always either in clear first or equal first.

It sounds like you really enjoyed yourself.

Well, there were some very strange things happening in this tournament. There was a bit of a Linares syndrome. For instance in round three I was black against Dreev, and he just offered me a very quick draw. This I really did not understand. I mean he was half a point behind me, and the highest-rated player in the tournament. So what is he trying to achieve? And then two rounds later Ni Hua did more or less the same thing, offering me a very early draw when he was white. If you look back at the tournament now you will see that had he won this game we would have tied for first place. You know, these guys are simply throwing away their whites, without making any efforts, which is a little bit incomprehensible to me. I'm not saying they would have won the games, they might even have lost. But what are you playing chess for? That is really my question. Actually it suited me fine as far as the tournament was concerned. I mean I played a tournament of six games...

You mean six genuinely fought-out games?

Yes, six games and six perfunctory draws. I scored five out of six in proper chess, and I had at least three ceremonious signings of the scoresheet. So it was not my favourite tournament from a creative point of view, but after all my disasters recently I was quite happy to have a good sporting result – put in a good performance rating, win a comfortable clear first place.

Which was you best game in Taiyuan?

The most beautiful one was against Ye Jiangchuan in the penultimate round. It was some sort of Sicilian Scheveningen by transposition (it actually started off as a Taimanov). It was a slightly unusual line, because I took very early on c6. And then there was some critical moment where I sacrificed my e-pawn. Let's take a look...

Short,N (2684) - Ye Jiangchuan (2681) [B85]
SanJin Hotel Cup Taiyuan CHN (8), 25.07.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Kh1 Be7 9.f4 d6 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Qd3 0-0 12.b3 Bb7 13.Bb2 c5 14.Rae1 Rae8.

15.Qh3!? Nxe4. Actually this was by far the most difficult moment of the game for me. I believe I played the correct move. I did not have to sacrifice, I could have played some random safe move, but I thought that the position was simply asking for this sacrifice. I just looked at it briefly with Fritz, who did not seem too impressed by it. I beg to differ with our German friend. I have immense respect for him, but this is a slow attack. It was useful that Ye had this burst of optimism. He had won his two previous games, and besides he has never lost to me, just beaten me a couple of times. He probably thought this was his moment of glory. After 16.Bd3 Nf6 17.Re3 he played 17...g6 instead of 17...h6, because he was afraid of Rg3 followed by Rxg7 and a draw by perpetual check, which I would have gone for, probably.

18.Nd1 c4 19.bxc4 Qc5 20.f5 e5 21.Rg3 Be4 22.Ne3 Bxd3 23.cxd3 Kh8 24.Bc1 Rg8 25.fxg6 fxg6 26.Nd5. Maybe he could have defended better, but my initiative simply developed.

After I played 26.Nd5 he captured the knight, after which Fritz of course sees the mate in a thousandth of a nanosecond. 26...Nxd5 27.Qxh7+ 1-0 because of 27...Kxh7 28.Rh3+ Kg7 29.Bh6+ Kh7 30.Bf8+ Bh4 31.Rxh4 mate.

Okay, congratulations on your victory, when are you getting back?

In a few days, I'm giving a simul in Bangkok.

A simul in what?

In chess, my dear boy! Actually there is only one club in the whole of Thailand, and they are doing the simul together with the British Club in Bangkok.

Have you been watching the games in Dortmund?

Not too carefully. Tell me, what's happening?

Vishy is through for sure, our friend Peter [Svidler] is almost certain, he has white against Vishy today. Can you predict the result?

Well, let me think about that – 12, 13? But what about the other group?

The official press release from Dortmund called it gripping, all four are tied at 2.5 points, and the decision must come today...

All draws?

Every single game so far.

Okay, who's in the second group?

Kramnik, Leko...

Well, say no more, say no more [laughs]

And what do you think of the kid?

Karjakin? Yeah, I saw that game, he had Kramnik by the goolies, didn't he? Actually the Biel tournament was more interesting. Moroz is there, and Sasikiran is playing interesting games. I've just been keeping an eye on that. But a "Drawfest" after the "Blunderfest", that's just too much.

Which reminds me, part two of our discussion of your world-class blunder in the deserts of Libya is still waiting for publication.

Yeah, go ahead, put in on your news site. Tell the world.

Will do. Have a safe journey home and thanks for this interesting conversation.


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