Grischuk beats Yu 3-1 in Russia-China match

by Liang Ziming
7/25/2017 – The Chinese Chess Association has made no secret of its ambitions to see a Chinese player one day vie for the overall world title. In an effort to help its many talents, matches have been organized over the past years to allow them to face elite players in match conditions to acquire experience. The latest was a fascinating match between Alexander Grischuk and Yu Yangyi which saw the Russian take in a convincing 3-1. Here is the great in-depth report by Liang Ziming.

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On July 20 2017, the Opening Ceremony of the Jiayuguan 2017 China-Russia Chess Grandmaster Summit Match was held in Kaitong Hotel in Jiayuguan. The match, played between Alexander Grischuk and Yu Yangyi, was a 4-game classical match held in the city of Jiayuguan, a very important city in the Silk Road economic belt in China's "Belt and Road" strategy.

This match was organized by the Chinese Chess Association and the People's Government of Jiayuguan city. The Sports Bureau of Jiayuguan city, the Beijing Huayi culture development center and the Heilongjiang Longyi Sports Industry Development Co., Ltd were the co-hosts.


Excellent trailer made to promote the match


Mr. Ding Jusheng, the mayor of jiayuguan City, delivers a welcome speech

Former Women World Champion Xie Jun talking to Alexander Grischuk in the Opening Ceremony, and providing some context and explanations

In the Opening ceremony, GM Alexander Grischuk said that he was very happy to invited to this match. “There are good relations between China and Russia. I'm happy to be a small part of the friendship between Russia and China, even though it's very small."

GM Yu Yangyi said that in China there is an old saying goes ‘One who fails to reach the Great Wall is not a hero’. “Jiyuguan is the start of the Great Wall. I'm happy to be here to play a match against Alexander Grischuk who is a great player from the chess kingdom. I think this match will leave me a memorable impression.”

As one might note, the Chinese Chess Association had created several matches in the past years for the top Chinese players like Ding Liren, Wei Yi, Yu Yangyi and Hou Yifan. GM Ye Jiangchuan, the head coach of the Chinese Chess Team, said "It's very helpful for Chinese chess players to play against the world’s elite players. I really hope one day our players will have the chance to play for the World Chess Title.”

Mr. Wang Yan, the Party Secretary of Jiayuguan, announced the opening of the match...

...and made the ceremonial opening moves with Mr. Yang Wei, director of the sports bureau of Gansu Province.

Game one

In the first game, Grischuk drew with Yu in a Petroff Defense

The former Women's World Champion Xie Jun watches the game unfold

After the first game, Grischuk commented, “This was a solid game. I had some advantage at moments, but Yu Yangyi's position was very solid. It's quite normal that game ended in a draw. Yu Yangyi agreed, noting, “I have played the Petroff Defense recently several times. He prepared very well for the opening and made some improvements during the game. There were some inaccuracies in my play but the position was somewhat balanced.

Ye Jiangchuan and the former Women's World Champion Xu Yuhua commenting the game for the spectators

Game two

The second day saw the least comabitve of the games in the match, perhaps the eye of the hurricane in view of the games three and four to follow. As it stood, a quick draw was agreed to in just thirteen moves.

Alexander Grischuk admitted this was unexepcted, though he could not argue with his opponent's decision. "I did not expect such a quick draw. The position was very equal and a bit boring. I know this line in the game of Kramnik and Giri which is a draw. Kramnik tried to play for win but got a worse position, so to avoid this, I think White has to make a draw."

Yu Yangyi said that he was surprised by the move 10. ...Nc6. He chose a line to avoid Alexander’s preparation but didn't find it ideal and then decided to simplify to get a draw.

Rest day

After the relatively quiet first two games, there came a rest day in the schedule. If the match were to be tied after four games, there would have followed a playoff with two rapid games (25+10), after which, if still equal, the rules called for two blitz games (5+3), to finally reach an Armageddon game to decide the winner.

In the morning of July 22, Grischuk (above) and Yu (below) had a simul with 20 local chess kids each

Game three

Game three saw the end of the quiet draws, and Alexander Grischuk drew first blood by defeating Yu Yangyi to take the lead.

The game saw another Petroff that lasted 56 moves and Yu Yangyi lost in the rook endgame after hours of hard defense

Alexander Grischuk's scoresheet

After the game, Grischuk shared his impressions on his win. "I got a slight advantage in the opening. I think from the opening to the endgame the position was quite unpleasant for him, I feel it’s very hard to defend for many hours. And at one moment, he made a big mistake and after that the position became really bad for him to save. At move 25, he should have to play Rb6 instead of Kf8 and then I have to exchange my active rook, because if I take a7, he has Rc6, and I can’t save two pawns."

Alexander Grischuk - Yu Yangyi (Game three)

[Event "Jiayuguan-2017 CHN-RUS Summit"] [Site "Jiayuguan"] [Date "2017.07.23"] [Round "3"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Yu, Yangyi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2761"] [BlackElo "2753"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2 Be6 9. O-O-O Qd7 10. h4 h6 ({Not} 10... Bxa2 $2 11. b3 $18) 11. c4 Bf6 12. Nd4 $146 (12. Qd3 Ne5 13. Qb3 Nxf3 14. gxf3 Qc6 15. Rg1 a5 16. Bd4 O-O-O { 1/2-1/2 (42) Lopez Martinez,J (2557)-Granero Roca,A (2393) La Roda 2009}) 12... Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Qe7 14. Qf4 Bxd4 15. Qxd4 Qf6 16. Qxf6 gxf6 17. g3 O-O 18. Bg2 Bxc4 19. Bxb7 Rab8 20. Bd5 Bxd5 21. Rxd5 $16 Rfe8 22. Ra5 Rb7 23. b3 Re5 24. Ra6 Re2 25. Rf1 {[#] This was the turning point according to Grischuk.} Kf8 $2 {Though the engines also see this as a mistake, they are unable to realize that it is as catastrophic as Grischuk explained. This is most likely a horizon effect (inability to see far enough) on their part, than exaggeration on the Russian's.} (25... Rb6 $1) 26. Kd1 Re5 27. Re1 Ke7 28. Kd2 Ke6 29. Re3 f5 30. c4 c5 (30... Rxe3 $16 {was worth a try.} 31. Kxe3 Ke5) 31. Rd3 $18 Rd7 { [#]} 32. f4 $1 Re4 33. Rd5 Ke7 34. Rxf5 Rd4+ 35. Ke2 Kf8 36. Kf3 Kg7 37. Kg4 Rd2 38. Rd5 Rg2 39. Rd3 Re2 40. Kf3 Rde7 41. h5 Rh2 42. Kg4 Rd7 43. Raxd6 Rxd6 44. Rxd6 Rxa2 45. f5 f6 46. Rc6 Rb2 47. Rxc5 Rxb3 48. Rc7+ Kf8 49. Rxa7 Rc3 50. Rc7 Ke8 51. Kf4 Kd8 52. Rc6 Ke7 53. g4 Rc1 54. Ke3 Rg1 55. Re6+ Kd7 56. Kf3 1-0

A World champion's guide to the Petroff

The great popularity of the Petroff Defence at the highest level has attracted general attention as strong players employ this opening with great success and with both colours. Unfortunately, the opinion of the Petroff as a sterile drawish opening seems to be firmly implanted in many minds. The author tries to dispel these myths and examines the most popular lines and provides a large number of ideas that will enable you to play Petroff successfully, with either colour.

Game four

Game four saw a must-win situation for the Chinese player, which he failed to produce. Instead, things soured for him, and he lost game four, leading Alexander Grischuk to conclude the match with an impressive 3-1 win.

Grischuk felt it had also been the most interesting game of the match, and that it was a fitting conclusion. "Yu Yangyi came up with a new plan to attack my kingside. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t like the standard maneuver for knight and decided put my knight on a4 as Kasparov often did. He beat me once like that. I then managed to play ...d5 and then ...d4, and after that my position is almost winning."

Yu Yangyi took his lumps philosophically, "Overall I didn't play well in this match, especially in the last two games. Grischuk showed great strength and did not give me too many chances. I'm relatively weak in the opening and middle game judgment. I think I learned a lot from this match."

Yu Yangyi - Alexander Grischuk (Game four)

[Event "Jiayuguan-2017 CHN-RUS Summit"] [Site "Jiayuguan"] [Date "2017.07.24"] [Round "4"] [White "Yu, Yangyi"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2761"] [Annotator "TA"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Be3 Bd6 7. h3 Nd7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Qe2 $146 (9. O-O Re8 10. c3 c5 11. Qc2 Nf8 12. Nc4 Ng6 13. Rad1 Bf8 {0-1 (47) Inarkiev,E (2714) -Kramnik,V (2810) Novi Sad 2016}) 9... Re8 10. O-O-O Qe7 11. g4 $1 Nc5 12. Kb1 Na4 {aiming for ...Ba3!} 13. Nc4 b5 14. Nxd6 ( 14. Bg5 $5 f6 15. Nxd6 cxd6 16. Bd2 $11) 14... cxd6 15. Qd2 c5 16. Nh4 b4 ({ Avoiding the trap} 16... Qxh4 $2 17. Bg5 $18) 17. Nf5 Qe6 18. Qe2 d5 19. Bd2 $2 (19. exd5 $1 $11 Qxd5 20. Bd2) 19... d4 $1 $19 20. Rdf1 (20. Rdg1 $142) 20... Rb8 21. Ka1 Qa6 22. Qd1 {[#]} Nc3 $1 23. Bxc3 (23. bxc3 bxc3 24. Ne3 Qxa2+ $3 25. Kxa2 Re6 26. Bc1 Ra6+ 27. Ba3 Rb2+ 28. Ka1 Rxa3#) 23... bxc3 24. b3 {[#]} Rb5 $1 25. Ng3 $2 (25. Rhg1 g6 26. Nh6+ Kg7 27. g5) 25... Ra5 26. Qb1 Ra3 27. f4 exf4 28. Rxf4 Be6 29. Ne2 Rb8 30. Nc1 Qb6 31. h4 a5 32. g5 a4 33. Rhf1 Qa7 34. R1f2 g6 35. Rf6 axb3 36. cxb3 Bxb3 0-1

Final standings

In the morning of July 25, we saw an interesting game of Chess and Xiangqi between GM Ye Jiangchuan and Xiangqi World Champion Zhao Guorong. Xiangqi, a game that bears strong resemblances to western chess, is one of the most popular board games in China, far outstripping western chess in pure popularity, and ranked alongside Go as king of the board games there.

Each player had 25 minutes for the whole game without time increment. As you might not know this, Ye Jiangchuan was a Xiangqi player before switching to chess at the age of 18. Zhao Guorong won the Xiangqi World Championship many years ago.

In the chess game, Ye Jiangchuan won the game rather easily. While in the Xiangqi game, Ye Jiangchuan got a better position but could not find winning attack and finally lost on time.

After their games, Ye Jiangchuan and Zhao Guorong (above) gave a simul with local Xiangqi players

Let me share another story about a Chinese national 3-mind-game tournament which was held in last December. Eight top players in Chess, Xiangqi and Go were invited to the tournament.

Notice the players facing three boards with three games all at the same time!

Ye Jiangchuan won the tournament by defeating the Xiangqi World Champion Xu Yinchuan in the final.

In fact, former Women Chess Champion Xie Jun successfully marched into the semi-final


Liang Ziming has been a chess journalist since 2003 and the New Officer for the Chinese Chess Association since 2011. In 2007, he translated Kasparov's book "How Life Imitates Chess" into Chinese together with the former Women World Champion Xie Jun.


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