Chinese Chess Championships in Xinghua Jiangsu

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/12/2021 – The Chinese Chess Championships are being played on May 7-15 in Xinghua Jiangsu, a county-level city in eastern China. After seven rounds, three players are sharing the lead in the open event while rating favourite Tan Zhongyi has grabbed the sole lead in the women’s tournament. | Pictured: Tan Zhongyi during the 2018 Women’s World Championship | Photo: Gu Xiaobang

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Rising stars

When we reported on the 2020 Chinese Championships last year, also after round 7, two players were sharing the lead in the open section with 5½ points each. In this edition, which features a stronger lineup, no one has managed to collect as many points, with three players currently sharing the lead on 4½/7 points.

Much like last year, the top seeds are Wei Yi and Yu Yangyi, the only two players from the country’s top 10 participating. Next in line are Zhao Jun, Bai Jinshi and Lu Shanglei, all 2600+ rated players. Women’s world champion Ju Wenjun is playing in the open event once again — last year she finished in sole fourth place on 6/11.

Defending champion Yu Yangyi is sharing the lead with Lu Shanglei (b. 1995) and Li Di (b. 1999). As it usually happens with Chinese players, we barely have time to notice how strong some of the rising stars actually are, given how competitive sports are in the most populated country in the world. Xu Zhihang (b. 2001) is also having a good run this year, as he is a half point behind the leaders on 4/7.

In the women’s section, clear rating favourite and defending champion Tan Zhongyi is the sole leader with 5½ points. Despite being the only 2500+ rated player, with only one of the remaining contestants having a 2400+ rating, the former women’s world champion only won last year’s event by a half-point margin — another example of how Chinese players tend to be underrated.

Sipai Tower

Sipai Tower, the emblem of the Xinghua Ancient City

After drawing his first six games, Wei Yi defeated Ju Wenjun with the white pieces. The women’s world champion found herself in an inferior position early in the game.

 

Here Wei played the novelty 12.a4, when after 12...a6 13.Bg3 it is already difficult to suggest a move for black other than 13...b4 making positional concessions. Ju played 13...Bb7 and there followed 14.axb5 cxb5 

 

White can immediately gain a pawn with 15.Nxb5, as 15...axb5 would be responded by 16.Bc7. Ju continued with 16...Rc8 and defended resourcefully from this point on, but it was not enough to prevent his 21-year-old opponent from getting the full point.


Standings after round 7 - Open section

# Name   Points Rtg
1. Lu, Shanglei GM 2615
2. Yu, Yangyi GM 2709
3. Li, Di GM 2561
4. Xu, Zhihang IM 4 2506
5. Wei, Yi GM 4 2732
6. Zhao, Jun GM 2638
7. Xu, Yinglun GM 2554
8. Xu, Xiangyu GM 3 2573
9. Bai, Jinshi GM 3 2618
10. Liu, Yan GM 3 2524
11. Ju, Wenjun GM 2560
12. Xu, Yi GM 2 2527

All games

 

Standings after round 7 - Women’s section

# Name   Points Rtg
1. Tan, Zhongyi GM 2510
2. Zhu, Jiner WGM 5 2459
3. Ning, Kaiyu WIM 2327
4. Zhai, Mo WGM 4 2366
5. Song, Yuxin WIM 2290
6. Gu, Tianlu WIM 2267
7. Xiao, Yiyi WGM 2301
8. Wang, Yu A. IM 3 2294
9. Yuan, Ye   3 2081
10. Gu, Xiaobing WGM 2263
11. Li, Xueyi WGM 2328
12. Ren, Xiaoyi WIM 2267

All games

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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