Chinese National Championship 2001

11/18/2001 – Just since last year, the regulation of the most important national chess tournament in China has been changed from round robin to Swiss + knock-out mode. After ten rounds of the first stage, 32 men and 16 woman players qualified for the final (knock-out) circle. Our correspondent Wang Wei reports from the Chinese National Championship in Wu Xi, Jiang Su Province. You will find his report more

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The annual Chinese National Championship have taken place in Wu Xi, Jiang Su Province from October 29th to November 12.

Just since last year, the regulation of the most important national chess tournament in China has been changed. Instead of the round robin, the tournament adopted the Swiss + knock-out mode. After ten rounds for the first stage, 32 men and 16 woman players qualified for the final (knock-out) circle. Then two players fight out the finals against each other, and finally we have the champion.

Apart from Ye Jiangchuan, who is ranked highest in China, all the strong male players participated in the tounament. There were eight GMs. All the GMs qualified for knock out phase.

However, GM Zhang Pengxiao, who played incredibly well in the first stage, were elimated in the first round of the knock-out. Four GMs marched on to semi-final match. They were Xu Jun, Zhang Zhong, Peng Xiaomin and the young talent Bu Xiangzhi. Xu Jun beat Pengxiaomin in the first game and then made and easy draw to elimate his opponent. Before meeting Zhang Zhong, Bu Xiangzhi had achieved six consecutive wins in the knock-out phase (that is, he won every game in the phase). And he beat Zhang Zhong, who ranked highest among all the participators in this tournament. Then Zhang Zhong was pushed to the edge of the cliff. But in the second game Zhang calmly took advantage of a tiny mistake Bu Xiangzhi made and at last won the game. Then these two began the plus blitz game and Zhang Zhong won it.

Zhang Zhong (left) and Xu Jun met in the final match. The first game was a draw. In the second game, Zhang Zhong sacrificed a rook for attack but after 30 minutes of thought Xu Jun succesfully defended and Zhang Zhong had to exchang his queen under time pressure. Afterwards he resigned because of too much material loss. In the third game Zhang Zhong once gained an additional pawn but Xu Jun defended like cement and pushed to game to draw. In the last game, Zhang Zhong was black and he had to win for a tie in the long games. That would give him a chance to counterattack in blitz. It was again severe for the 23-year-old player. In this hard combat, Zhang Zhong exposed his weak points purposely and attracked Xu Jun, who was too nervous to simplify the position. Due to conservative play Xu Jun lost a pawn and then went on to lose the endgame.

Not a long time ago, Xu Jun captured the Asian Championship. And it's the second time he qualified for final matches in the national championship under the new rules. Last year, he and his opponent were equal in the long games and he lost in the blitz game. Now he once again had to fight in blitz, against a stronger opponent. Actually, these two, Zhang Zhong and Xu Jun, were the No. 1 and No. 2 seed players in the tournament. In blitz games Zhang Zhong drew the first and won in the second. He seemed to be especially good at blitz, I suppose. And it's the first time Zhang Zhong captured the title "National Championship".

In the women's matches Wang Lei (left) beat Li Ruofan easily (3:1) in the final matches and defended her title succesfully. Xu Yuhua came third and Gong QianYun got the fourth prize.

Wang Wei, Fudan University, Shanghai


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