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The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

3/7/2013 –  Is there anything that Chinese people cannot do? Those are the first words of Alina L'Ami in a final report on the 2013 Reykjavik Open. Although the event was marked by GM Wei Yi's historic third GM norm, little is known about the young prodigy. Alina met him and describes her impressions, including a spectacular win of his, and all in a beautiful pictorial.
 

The 28th Reykjavik Open 2013 is being held from February 19 to 27, 2012 in Harpa, the spectacular 28,000 sqm. music hall on the harbour, just five minutes walk to downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. The event is a ten-round Swiss with a rate of play of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds increment from move one. Total prizes are €15.000, including many special prizes for various ages and rating categories, in addition to the traditional top women prize.

The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

By Alina L'Ami

Is there anything Chinese people cannot do?

“Made in China” are the three magical words we stumble on everyday. From clothes to electronics, from cars to… chess grandmasters – the Chinese find their way into everything! And they do it right, if we are to judge at least by the impressive number of strong players in our field of expertise. One way or another China will surely make the headlines. How is it possible to see their tracks in almost every single domain there is?! I am sure the analysts found the answer to this question, an answer which we can intuitively sense by taking a closer look into our particular case: chess.

The deserved winner GM Pavel Eljanov


Wesley So only came second on tiebreak

GM Bassem Amin scored a heroic third place, and faces Anish Giri here

More and more grandmasters appear on the tournaments’ lists from this side of the globe. Without any shade of doubt, they’re becoming really strong. The ‘scary’ and intimidating part is that the newest Chinese grandmasters are very young. So incredibly young and already in a race with time, defying the human brain’s limits and any common sense!

Wei Yi is shown with a name plaque identifying him as a FIDE master for the very last time

On second thought, it takes years of hard work to become an overnight sensation; in the case of Wei Yi, precisely seven. Born on the 2nd of June, 1999 in Jiangsu province, the 13-year-old prodigy completed his 3rd GM norm in the tournament which just finished: Reykjavik Open.

A third grandmaster norm at last!

Here is a spectacular win by Wei Yi:

[Event ""] [Site "?"] [Date "2011.??.??"] [Round ""] [White "Yi, Wei"] [Black "Qingnan, Liu"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B86"] [WhiteElo "2502"] [BlackElo "2500"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 b5 9. f5 Nc5 10. Qf3 {This line has fallen out of favor due to fairly dreadful results. Megabase 2013 says White only has a 27% win-rate.} Bd7 11. Bg5 b4 {... Be7 has been the favored move but the two games in which ...b4 was played were Black victories.} 12. fxe6 fxe6 13. e5 $3 {After this lightning bolt, 11...b4 will be locked up and the key thrown out.} dxe5 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Rd1 {The most precise move, and most likely the result of well-tuned home preparation.} exd4 {Black cannot find a way out of the mess, and many times the only way to refute a sacrifice is to accept it.} (15... bxc3 {loses immediately to} 16. Qh5+ Ke7 17. Nf5+ $1 exf5 18. Qf7# {Lovely.}) (15... Bg7 16. Nxe6 Nxe6 17. Bxe6 {is also fatal, since White is threatening both Rxd7 and Qh5+-Qf7 mate. Black cannot defend against both.}) 16. Qh5+ Ke7 17. Qxc5+ Kf7 18. Qh5+ Ke7 19. Ne4 Qb6 20. O-O {The hunt for the black king is coming to an end.} Bg7 21. Nc5 { Threatening Nxd7 Kxd7 Qf7+.} Be8 22. Qg4 Bh6 23. Nxe6 Be3+ 24. Kh1 Bg6 25. Nxd4 Bxd4 26. Rxd4 Rhd8 27. Re1+ Kf8 28. Qf4 $1 {The rook on d4 is untouchable.} Kg7 (28... Rxd4 29. Qh6#) 29. Re7+ Kh8 30. Qh6 1-0

I’ve always admired the hard working spirit, the tenacity and discipline displayed by most of the Chinese players, but somehow it was not a really conscious thought, more like a background feeling. This time, after talking to Wei Yi with the help of the reigning Chinese champion, Ding Liren, my respect for them has deepened. Frankly speaking, what stands out even more than their chess skills is their modesty. If there is such thing as mastering humility, they are super grandmasters. And that’s because it doesn’t require an effort on their part, they just are. Of course this is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary, it’s one of their main strengths.

Icelandic rock at the closing ceremony

Anish Giri with his two sisters and Sopiko Guramishvili (they make a cute couple)

To give you an example, I asked Wei Yi for his best game ever and he couldn’t mention one, after trying really hard! True, he won in Reykjavik against Vachier-Lagrave but he claimed that the French grandmaster was not in his best shape, so he shouldn’t be praised. In other words, with this humble and down-to-earth attitude, the youngest Chinese grandmaster will surely reach whatever long term goal he sets his mind to.

For now, a 2600 quota is on the list, while many brilliant games are still to come. This will assuredly happen, given the fact that the Chinese Gemini dreams of becoming a professional chess player, putting everything else on hold. Furthermore, the Chinese GM Factory is performing extremely well, producing one strong player after the other. The system of centralized trainings in Beijing, helping, supporting each other and only visiting their families from time to time, is yielding great results as we can see. Chapeau! For their type of personality, contrary to our self-centered, more materialistic Western approach. Sorry for being biased!

The Ladies prize

The winners group and top ten players

Apart from Wei Yi’s phenomenal result, the other thing which spiced up the chess tournament, because this is where we started from, was the fight for the top spots. Three players shared first place with 8.0/10 and the better tiebreak made the Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov the rightful winner. After beating me in round two (*not* appreciated, by the way), Eljanov proved he deserves to be first and, I would also add: back to the 2700 club (2697 on the virtual rating list, after this tournament), since he is obviously underrated at the moment. Probably the quick draw in the last round against Wesley So (this half a point secured Wesley a 2700 rating for the next list) was not the ‘ideal’ end for the hardcore seekers but hey! Try yourself to play in the last round, in the morning, with a lot of money at stake, pressure, etc. After all, professional chess players are not only showmen to delight the public’s eyes but also hard workers who should bring home the bacon. A draw is always a step forward and a perfect end of the Reykjavik Open for the Ukrainian and Filipino grandmasters.

Collectibles, which a Dutch chess lover found in the local market!

In a country that is often grey, people go the extra mile to bring color

Another example at a skateboard area

A lovely shot of the wharf

Exotic menus: I wasn't able to try it out, since whales are so
rare and puffins so cute.

The words say it all

Shared first and with a beautiful finish, scoring two points in the last two crucial rounds, was the Egyptian GM Bassem Amin, who added ten points to his rating, continuing his ascension in both his professional and personal life. Whether he will choose medicine over chess only Bassem can say…hopefully, sharing the first place in Iceland will tip the scales in chess’ corner.

Eight players shared a score of 7.5/10, which is of course a great achievement for such a strong field but as we know: winners take all!... Well, almost.

How can chess not be considered a sport if it leaves you this exhausted?

Anish Giri was the best of the rest at 7.5/10

Above is a moment from the last round game between Wei Yi and Ivan Cheparinov - tough fight for both; Cheparinov couldn't prepare much before the game, since there are too little games from Wei Yi in the database. As for the Chinese player - he had some difficulties to bring up the memory of all the sharp lines. Eventually, with the seconds ticking on the clock, Cheparinov settled for a draw, to quote him "All the lines I could possibly remember were leading to a forced draw! What else to do than agree with that, since consciously going into a much worse continuation is not an option?!"

The other professionals, including myself, can proudly say that we ticked one more experience, one more kick in our back to take a lot of steps forward!

As for the amateurs, they must have been delighted with the wide range of parallel activities provided by the organizers: a chess quiz competition, a blitz tournament, sight-seeing and even a football match! Well, there is some room for criticism too: this year, we did not see too much ice in Iceland, but maybe this is not the organizer’s fault, is it?


In order to make up for the lack of snow, here are some pictures by Richard Stuivenvolt
taken one week before the tournament.

A breathtaking shot of icebergs

An equally beautiful photo of the aurora borealis

Final standings

Rk
Tit
Name
Fed
Rtg
Pts
Perf
Rtg+/-
1
GM
Eljanov Pavel
UKR
2678
8.0
2799
19.0
2
GM
So Wesley
PHI
2684
8.0
2753
0.0
3
GM
Amin Bassem
EGY
2631
8.0
2658
10.1
4
GM
Giri Anish
NED
2722
7.5
2733
5.9
5
GM
Cheparinov Ivan
BUL
2709
7.5
2685
1.3
6
IM
Wei Yi
CHN
2501
7.5
2661
24.9
7
GM
Dziuba Marcin
POL
2602
7.5
2619
6.3
8
GM
Ding Liren
CHN
2709
7.5
2601
-2.5
9
NM
Norowitz Yaacov
USA
2432
7.5
2547
0.0
10
GM
Jones Gawain C B
ENG
2637
7.5
2664
7.9
11
GM
Sokolov Ivan
NED
2644
7.5
2547
-0.9
12
GM
Yu Yangyi
CHN
2688
7.0
2666
2.1
13
GM
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
FRA
2715
7.0
2647
-3.2
14
GM
Gajewski Grzegorz
POL
2644
7.0
2649
5.9
15
GM
Ipatov Alexander
TUR
2569
7.0
2565
3.5
16
GM
L'ami Erwin
NED
2622
7.0
2618
4.7
17
GM
Yilmaz Mustafa
TUR
2531
7.0
2565
9.2
18
GM
Shulman Yury
USA
2563
7.0
2580
6.9
19
GM
Baklan Vladimir
UKR
2609
7.0
2584
1.5
20
GM
Navara David
CZE
2710
7.0
2588
-9.5
21
GM
Xiu Deshun
CHN
2530
7.0
2513
3.8

Pictures by Alina L'Ami

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

 

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