China vs Russia: Yu Yangyi cannot stop Karjakin

by Johannes Fischer
8/1/2015 – Sergey Karjakin is on a roll. In the China-Russia match in knock-out format, in which one player plays against the other team till he loses, Karjakin eliminated four of the five Chinese. After winning against Wei Yi, Ding Liren, and Ni Hua, he also beat Yu Yangyi, once again showing his skills in blitz. The match will be resumed in December.

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The format of the Russia - China match is unusual for chess matches: Each team has five players and the line-up has to be established before the match. In every round one, and only one, player of each team plays against the corresponding player from the other team. The players on the first board begin the match. The winner of this mini-match then plays against the player of the opposite team who follows next in the line-up.

The line-up of the Chinese team:

1. Wei Yi
2. Ding Liren
3. Ni Hua
4. Yu Yangyi
5. Wang Yue.

The line-up of the Russian team:

1. Sergey Karjakin
2. Evgeny Tomashevsky
3. Alexander Morozevich
4. Ian Nepomniachtchi
5. Dmitry Andreikin

The time-limit is 90-30/30 seconds per move. Only one game is played. Should this game end in a draw, two blitz games with a time-limit of 5+3 will follow. Should there still be no winner, the mini-match will be decided by a final game in sudden death mode.

Sergey Karjakin seems to like this format. After eliminating Wei Yi, Ding Liren, and Ni Hua he had to play against Yu Yangyi in round four - and won again.

The Chinese had White in the regular game but found no way
to exert pressure and Karjakin managed to draw without trouble.

Yu Yangyi found no recipe against Karjakin's solid play.

In the first of the two blitz games that followed Karjakin had Black and after a cunning tactical trick by Yu Yangyi landed in a rook ending with a pawn down. But Karjakin kept calm, countered and soon regained the pawn, which led to a rook ending that was objectively drawn though Black had the initiative. But with only seconds on the clock Yu Yangyi soon went astray and Karjakin won.

Thus the Chinese had to win with Black in the second blitz game. But in a solid hedgehog position he found no way to stir up trouble and finally cracked under the pressure and blundered a piece. A few moves later Yu resigned and Karjakin had eliminated the fourth member of the Chinese squad.

Games of round four


After four rounds the first part of the match ends. The second part will be played in December (12. to 17) in Harbin City. The winning team receives 50.000 USD, the losing team receives nothing. Each player of the winning team receives 5.000 USD starting fee, while each player of the losing team receives a starting fee of 3.000 USD.

Organizers of the match are the Chinese Chess Association and People's Government of Fuyuan County. HHost of the event is the Culture, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication Bureau of Fu Yuan County and the Education and Sports Bureau of Fuyun County.

Photos: Fan Lulu

Website of the Chinese Chess Federation

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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ton orbe ton orbe 8/4/2015 04:45

Actually, this format is not a new idea. It is borrowed from another game (or sport if you will) which is also popular in China: e-Sports, particularly Starcraft II team competition. It's been five years since the first Starcraft II Pro team competitions were held. There are usually 5 players in a team. Player 1 goes against player 1 of the other team, and whoever loses is replaced, etc. just like this format.
Offramp Offramp 8/3/2015 04:02
We use this system playing pool at my local pub. Winner stays on.
vishyvishy vishyvishy 8/2/2015 10:40
What do you think about my suggested modified format below,
No repeat match with the same pair should be the rule here.
Suppose there is Team A and Team B with increasing ELO players listed as below,
A1 2200 B1 2300
A2 2400 B2 2500
A3 2600 B3 2700
A4 2800 B4 2850

Round 1 A1 Vs B1
Winner A1

Round 2 A1 Vs B2
Winner A1

Round 3 A1 Vs B3
Winner B3

Round 4 A2 Vs B3
Winner B3

Round 5 A3 Vs B3
Winner A3

Round 5 A3 Vs B4
Winner A3
Team B Exhausted Completely So,
Winner -> Team A
leenn leenn 8/2/2015 10:14
More logical would have been for the two No 5s Wang and Andreikin to meet in Round 1, with the winner meeting No 4 of the losing team in the next round. That would have been fairer and more interesting. . Now the best player in the tournament is able to slaughter weaker players one by one.
Nisarg Nisarg 8/2/2015 07:01
Oh come on! It's just that Karjakin is unstoppable at blitz by the Chinese team. This format is exciting! Maybe next time, they would change the format to 2 regular games at the start. Or maybe, just play 2 rapids?
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 8/2/2015 03:20
Viva Karjakin! Conqueror of Chinese Golden warriors! but I might add vishy vishy comment that the lower rated should play first to make this match more exciting!
tigerprowl tigerprowl 8/2/2015 02:27
They don't seem to do events in Beijing anymore. One reason why I left China. They have good players but they aren't promoting it like they should. It's a side act when there isn't basketball or ping pong.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 8/2/2015 12:56
@jocaps Round Robin with only the best scoring player from each team taken into consideration is weird also. Each team's players would favour one of them in order to increase his score. Therefore, only the games between a player and all the players of the opposing team should count. Of course that is the good old Scheveningen system.
excalibur2 excalibur2 8/2/2015 12:23
All the games are decided by Karjakin's superior blitz prowess. I'm not sure any of the Chinese players (except Lu Shanglei) ever practice blitz. This is just easy money for Karjakin. Draw one classical game in typical boring fashion, and win in blitz.

This format is awful btw. The Chinese really should scrap it.
Mindhunterr Mindhunterr 8/1/2015 11:25
+1 jocaps
Weird format
jocaps jocaps 8/1/2015 10:19
Although I am cheering Russia.. I still think that this kind of challenge is a very out-dated system (even for a game like Go). I think they should just adopt and try the Round-Robin. If one person (in this case Karjakin) keeps on playing and the others don't because of this then it does feel more like an individual tournament rather than a "team" tournament. Even having a regular round robin tournament and the single winner deciding the country that wins is more exciting than this system.