Coincidence in Chengdu: Part One

by Alejandro Ramirez
7/7/2014 – The 2014 edition of the International Star Mixed Pair Tournament has begun in Chengdu, China. The tournament brings a mix of top Chinese women players and strong foreign grandmasters in a unique pair format: two players per team alternate moves in a single game, no communication allowed between them! A coincidence allowed us to have a report straight from Chengdu, China!

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Summer is always a hectic time for any chess player. Personally I have a slew of tournaments that I intend to either play in or cover for www.chessbase.com, or both! However I was able to take a couple of weeks off to visit China, a very exotic destination for me considering I am latinamerican! I have been to China once before, but I felt I had a lot to see; for this reason besides Beijing I visited the cities of Qingdao, Hangzhou and Chengdu - the latter famous for its spicy Szechuan food and for the Giant Pandas.

It was a coincidence and a great delight for me that the "2014 International Star Mixed Pair Tournament" would be taking place in Chengdu while I was visiting! Of course I could not pass up the opportunity to visit such a wonderful event.

One of many, many banners in the hotel

The tournament is being held in the Wangjian Hotel in southeastern Chengdu city. The hotel used to only host top dignitaries and important people in the communist party, but it is now open to the public.

Each player has their own banner with a biography in Chinese

The tournament is rather unique. A total of twelve players participate in pairs; the way this works is that they play a single chess game against another pair while the players in each team alternate making a move. Of course communication of any kind is forbidden between the teammates, so the only way to know why your partner played a certain move is by figuring it out!

Before the tournament Nigel Short (right) was clamoring how important it would be to get Hou Yifan as a partner.

After the small press conference a Opening Ceremony/Banquet was held

Short having a little difficulty with technology. Or maybe its the food?

The legendary Alisa Maric gave a speech on behalf of the foreign players

Food came in waves, and not everything was recognizable

Do the readers care to take a guess on what exactly this is? Hint: It was delicious!

The male players came up to take a pink panda with the name of a female player who would then be their partner

Yu Shaoteng was paired with Xu Yuhua

Alisa Maric with Ye Jiangchuan

And Nigel Short got his dream partner, Hou Yifan! They are the rating favorites and certainly the ones to beat.

The women then came up and took a blue panda to determine their pairing number. Zhu Chen drew number two for her and Yasser Seirawan

All the players ready for action

Arthur Jussupow and Maia Chiburdanidze are two great chess legends

Yasser Seirawan and Zhu Chen scored the first win of the tournament...

...against Xie Jun (left) and Liu Shilan

Meanwhile the "Jet-Lag Team" of Short (who arrived the day of the opening ceremony from England) and Hou Yifan (who arrived the day before from Georgia) was able to beat Jussupow & Chiburdanidze.

Finally Yu Shaoteng and Xu Yuhua edged out Alisa Maric and Ye Jiangchuan

"Our position was so bad, we had to make forced moves, this allowed us to not make mistakes!" - Nigel Short on solid chess strategy

Jussupow and Chiburdanidze sacrificed a pawn for an early initiative

The pairings!

After the first round the players and some reporters went to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Look forward to that in part two!

Replay Rounds one and two

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games


Topics: Chengdu, China

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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Fabien Simonis Fabien Simonis 7/8/2014 07:33
I think the mystery dish is duck tongues! Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan (= Szechwan) province, which is famous for its spicy cuisine. This means the dish was probably spicy, but it's possible they made it less so to accommodate all the foreign guests. Nice picture of a tasty delicacy!
obinna uwasomba obinna uwasomba 7/7/2014 08:23
chess time is fun time!
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