Chess adventures in China

by ChessBase
12/21/2016 – China is chess superpower but for a long time open tournaments have been rare in the country. But the chess scene in China flourishes and the 1. Hainan Dhanzou Open attracted a lot of strong players. Dutch GM Jan Werle also travelled to Hainan and was impressed by the strength of the Chinese juniors and the superb performance of Yu Yangyi who finished clear first with 8.0/9.

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Chinese wall proves to be strong at the 1st Hainan Dhanzou International Open Tournament

By GM Jan Werle

In some countries less and less chess tournaments are organized and it is increasingly difficult to find sponsors, but in China the opposite is true: more and more tournaments with attractive prizes are played. In the past most tournaments in China were invitational tournaments but the 1st Hainan Dhanzou International Chess Open Tournament was open for all players.

The playing venue

Inside the playing venue

With a total prize-fund of 68.000 USD the prizes were attractive. The first three in the open received 15.000$, 10.000$ and 5.000$ respectively, the three best women players 8.000$, 4.000$ and 2.500$. The tournament took place from the 7th to 16th December on the island of Hainan, in the south of China. It can get rather warm in this part of China, which is close to Vietnam, and as a consequence the island acquired the nickname 'Haiwai'. The playing venue of the tournament was the training center of the Chinese Chess Federation.

However, to win of the lucrative prizes was everything but an easy task. Not only because a lot of strong players from 16 countries came to Hainan, among them 11 GMs and many Ims, but also because a lot of Chinese juniors are underrated. Tournament favorites were 2700+ GMs Richard Rapport (Hungary) and Yu Yangyi (China).

Richard Rapport (left) and Yu Yangyi at the opening ceremony

Opening ceremony

Most foreign GMs and IMs had a hard time against the Chinese players. Many of the young Chinese are tactically resourceful, calculate well and are hard to beat. Last but not least, they play pretty quickly and often the higher rated players took too many risks against them and were duly punished.

Tournament favorite Richard Rapport suffered a defeat against the talented Moldavian IM Hamitevici, a former of his countryman Viktor Bologan. Whereas Yu Yangyi kept on scoring and passed Rapport.

IM Hamitevici


Another Chinese prodigy is GM Lu Shanglei. See the following nice game.


Xiao Yiyi

But Lu Shanglei not only impresssed with his attacking skills. During the 'Cigar Party' on the evening before the restday he also showed his talent for Karaoke.

Lu Shanglei during his Karaoke performance

The organization offered the participants a lot. For example, during the pool party in Cuban style that suited the the town we played in and where statues of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were all over the place, the players were indulged with a big cigar, excellent wine and tasty food.

The Mongolian GM Batchuluun and his wife enjoy the party.

American GM Alex Yermolinsky and Russian IM Tsydypov

On the morning of the restday most of the players took part the excursion to the museum of Dongpo Su, a famous writer and teacher who was exiled to Hainan. After the museum we were shown a place at the coast where the Chinese have been gaining salt for centuries. In the afternoon some players gave a simultaneous display against children in the nearby town of Dhanzou to promote chess in Hainan.


Australian GM Zhong-Yuan Zhao

Preparing 'coconut water'

The Indian GM Sandipan (left) resists the heat better than your Dutch author

Salt gaining plant near the coast

 Chess class in a school in Dhanzhou

Chess is fun

Women Grandmaster Tan Zonghyi played during the entire tournament in the top of the field and parried all assaults. She finished with 6.0/9, won the prize for the best women player and finished fifth in the open. Against Rapport she showed her resilience.


Tan Zonghyi (right) at the prize-giving

Yu Yangyi finished the tournament with a very impressive 8.0/9 score. Silver went to Chinese GM Zhou Jianchao, bronze was won by GM Jumabayev from Kazakhstan who both had 6.5/9. The winner asked me to analyze his game from round 4 against GM Wen Yang and his game from round 9 against GM Rapport.


Yu Yangyi is interviewed by the National Sports Channel.

Picture 23: FLTR: Russian IM Tsydypov, Indian IM Vignesh and CM Kulkarni and Vietnamese WGM Nguyen

On behalf of the players special thanks go to the organizers, arbiters and the main sponsors Guandong Xingyi Decoration Group Co., Ltd who made the 1st Hainan international chess tournament a big success. Next year the 2nd edition will take place at Danzhou on Hainan.

Final standings after 9 rounds

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1 
1 1 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2729 8,0 0,0
2 3 GM Zhou Jianchao CHN 2632 6,5 0,0
3 5 GM Jumabayev Rinat KAZ 2611 6,5 0,0
4 6 GM Wen Yang CHN 2607 6,0 0,0
5 13 WGM Tan Zhongyi CHN 2496 6,0 0,0
6 29   Peng Xiongjian CHN 2362 6,0 0,0
7 11 GM Batchuluun Tsegmed MGL 2521 6,0 0,0
8 4 GM Lu Shanglei CHN 2627 6,0 0,0
9 21 IM Xu Yi CHN 2430 6,0 0,0
10 37   Li Yankai CHN 2324 6,0 0,0
11 10   Xu Yinglun CHN 2535 5,5 0,0
12 2 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2717 5,5 0,0
13 18   Gusain Himal IND 2448 5,5 0,0
14 16 IM Tsydypov Zhamsaran RUS 2460 5,5 0,0
15 7 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2593 5,5 0,0
16 19   Dai Changren CHN 2436 5,5 0,0
17 25 FM Liu Yan CHN 2403 5,5 0,0
18 24 IM Liu Guanchu CHN 2418 5,5 0,0
19 44   Nie Xinyang CHN 2239 5,5 0,0
20 38 FM Zhu Yi CHN 2306 5,5 0,0
21 40   Chen Qi B CHN 2290 5,5 0,0
22 15 IM Hamitevici Vladimir MDA 2477 5,0 0,0
23 22   Fang Yan CHN 2429 5,0 0,0
24 12 IM Fang Yuxiang CHN 2510 5,0 0,0
25 9 GM Zhao Zong-Yuan AUS 2544 5,0 0,0
26 14 GM Yermolinsky Alex USA 2486 5,0 0,0
27 8 GM Werle Jan NED 2560 5,0 0,0
28 31   Zhao Yuanhe CHN 2351 5,0 0,0
29 39 WFM Xiao Yiyi CHN 2302 5,0 0,0
30 30 WGM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung VIE 2357 5,0 0,0


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