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Stars from the Chinese League

5/26/2008 – China is one of the great emerging chess nations and has been playing an increasingly dominant role in recent international events. The Chinese Chess League has attracted 26 GMs, three IMs, and eleven WGMs. Nobody can afford to ignore these players or their league, and we are grateful to Yaoyao (Crystal) Zhu for providing us with all the necessary introductions.
 

Introducing: stars from the Chinese League

By Yaoyao (Crystal) Zhu

Recently China has become such a great emerging chess nation that people somehow stop being amazed at their players’ spectacular performances from the Olympiad to Baku. In the face of this emergence it is a shame that the Chinese Chess League, also known, without a hint of a smile, as the ‘Torch Real Estate Cup Chinese Chess League Division A’, doesn’t attract as much attention as it should do, despite the presence of 26 GMs, three IMs, and eleven WGMs.

The rules require five boards with at least two female players (2/5 seems quite a scary percentage but China never lacks for strong and talented females!), while to add to the challenge a 25+30 quick game must also be played on one of the boards.

This season, ten teams are competing over 18 rounds in six different cities in a six month period, from March to August. Coming from nine different regions, including two teams from Jiangsu Province (aided of course by the fact that Jiangsu is the hometown of Hou Yifan, Shen Yang, Ruan Lufei, Gu Xiaobing, and Li Ruofan; a smorgasbord of talent).

Under the rules of the league each team is allowed to register seven Chinese players and an unlimited quota of overseas players, many of whom have already built their fame through countless international championships and Olympiads. (Top memory quiz time, how many of them have you recognised?)

Team Zhejiang


GM Xu Yuhua (许昱华/許昱華), 2500, the current Women's World Champion, who won her title in March 2006 when she defeated Russian IM Alisa Galliamova in the FIDE Women's World Chess Championship knock-out tournament in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Xu is also a law graduate


GM Zhu Chen (诸宸), 2521, who in 2001/2002, at the age of 25, won the Women's World Chess Championship to become the eleventh champion of the game. She did not defend her world title in Georgia in May 2004 due to scheduling problems and her pregnancy. Zhu is married to Qatari Grandmaster Mohamad Al-Modiahki, and now represents Qatar.


GM Nigel Short
(奈哲尔-肖特), 2660, of England, well know to ChessBase readers

Jiangsu


WGM Ruan Lufei (阮露斐), 2495 is on the right in the above pictures. She is posing with her teammates Huang Qian, Zhao Xue, Hou Yefan and Sheng Yang, with whom she won last year's World Women's Team Championship in Yekaterinburg with consummate ease – two points ahead of anyone else. Ruan is twenty.


WGM Shen Yang (沈 阳), 2440, is 19 and one of China's rising talents. She created a sensation when at 16 and rated 2326 she defeated 2652-rated Russian GM Sergei Rublevsky at the World Team Championship in Beersheba, Israel, in 2005.

Shanghai


GM Ni Hua (倪华), 2704, learned to play chess at six and gained his first GM norm at 17, getting the full title two years later. Ni won the Chinese National Chess Championship 2006 and 2007. In 2008 he competed at the Russian Team Championships in Dagomys, Sochi for the team Economist-SGSEU-1 (Saratov), where he achieved a score of 7.0/11 (+4 =6 –1) and a performance rating of 2735.

Wuxi


WGM Gu Xiaobing (谷笑冰), 2225, who was in the Top 20 Girls rating list from January 2003 to January 2004. Gu is the "Big Sister" who encouraged 王玥 (see below) to write a charming blog article after his victory at the Grand Prix in Baku.


GM Ernesto Inarkiev (伊纳尔基耶夫), 2684, of Russia


GM Merab Gaugunashvili (甘谷纳什利), 2553, of Georgia, with GM 倪华 (see above)

Hebei


GM Zhang Pengxiang (张鹏翔), 2640, learnt chess when he was five, became National Youth Champion at 12 and 13, and a grandmaster at 22 (in 2002). Zhang wants to teach and give training to youngsters in China via an online classroom network.


GM Zhang Zhong (章钟), 2613, finished first at the Corus B tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 2003, three points ahead of his nearest rival. He is married to WGM Li Ruofan, and the two were portrayed in a Bisik-Bisik article last January.

Shandong


GM Bu Xiangzhi (卜祥志), 2708, became the youngest grandmaster in the world (at 13 years 10 months 13 days) in 1999. Bu has also been the target of one of the most atrocious puns in chess history.

WGM Hou Yifan (侯逸凡), 2549, is 14 years old and currently China's youngest ever Women's National Champion. She recently won the Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament in Istanbul with a full point lead and a rating performance of 2674. Nobody doubts she is a future world champion.

Beijing


GM Wang Hao (王皓), 2684, one of the few players (Garry Kasparov is another) who never became an IM but went staight on to becoming a full GM, two years ago at the age of 16.


WGM Zhao Xue (赵雪), 2523, is one of the best scorers of her team at the Women's Chess Olympiads. She scored 11/12 (performance rating of 2723) on board four in the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled in 2002, 10/12 (performance 2603) on board three at the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia in 2004; and 10/13 on board one (performance 2615), winning an individual Gold, at the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin in 2006.

Tianjin


GM Wang Yue (王玥), 2689, got the FIDE Master title at 13 (in 2000), his IM title at 16 and the GM title at 17. His current rating makes him the third highest ranked player in China. He won the recent Baku Grand Prix (together with Gashimov and Carlsen) and wrote about it in his very interesting chess blog, in which he refers to 谷笑冰 as Big Sister (Gu is two years older than him).

Meanwhile the future is well represented with the following young, as yet untitled, talents: 15-year-old Wang Chen, 2387, 17-year-old Ju Wenjun, 2374, 13-year-old Lu Shanglei, 2208, 14-year-old Yu Yangyi, 2356, and 13-year-old Guo Qi 2027 (winner of World Youth Championship 2007 12G).

At the risk of irking a legendary British player, any average club player will tell you that their chess nightmare is to lose to essentiall a child, with no record, and who spends the entire match chewing gum. Well GM Nigel Short may have an inkling of this feeling, albeit at a far higher level, after drawing with two 2300+ junior players. He admitted that he felt “confused by some of Chinese players’ ratings”. We mere mortals can empathise!

Chinese Chess League standings after six rounds:

Rnk

Team

Pts

B.-pts

 1-2

Shanghai

10

19.5

 1-2

Beijing

10

18.5

  3

Shandong

9

17.5

 4-5

Hebei

7

16.0

 4-5

Zhejiang

7

15.0

 6-9

Tianjin

4

13.5

 6-9

Guangdong

4

12.5

 6-9

Wuxi

4

12.0

6-9

Jiangsu

3

13.0

10

Chongqing

2

12.5

Shanghai, with GM Ni Hua, GM Zhou Jianchao, Lou Yiping (17 yrs old, rated 2318), WIM Zhang Xiaowen and Ju Wenjun (17 yrs old, rated 2374) and Beijing – with GM Wang Hao, GM Li Chao, Yu Yangyi (14 yrs old, rated 2356), WGM Zhao Xue, and IM Wang Yu – are in the joint lead, followed by Shandong with GM Bu Xiangzhi, GM Zhao Jun, GM Wen Yang, WGM Hou Yifan, and WIM Zhang Jiling, last year’s league champion.

Unfortunately the 7th -9th rounds were postponed as China decided to mourn those who died in Si Chuan earthquake on 12th May for three days. The 7th to 9th rounds will be even more exciting as Wuxi, Zhejiang, Chongqing and Tianjin welcome their new players:

  • GM Bologan Viktor (MDA) 2665
  • GM Malakhov Vladimir (RUS) 2689
  • GM Motylev Alexander (RUS) 2666
  • WGM Harika Dronavalli (IND) 2461

ChessBase will keep you updated! Pictures mostly by Liu Xianglin and my dear friend WGM Gu Xiaobing. Many thanks to her for agreeing to write the round report, and Mr. Matthew Parry for his edit.

Links

  • www.ccl.sports.cn
  • Games are available on this site, but as far as we can tell each game is in a separate PGN file – 125 in all – and so difficult to retrieve and merge. If anyone has done this reliably we would be thankful for the file.
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