Coincidence in Chengdu: Part Two

by Alejandro Ramirez
7/9/2014 – The games are still under way in Chengdu. Some surprising results have happened and the tournament favorites, Hou Yifan and Nigel Short, don't seem to be in route to win anymore. However today's report will focus on another attraction of Chengdu: Pandas! This endangered species is now only native to this region, the players and reporters got a beautiful tour.

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After the first round games the players had time for a quick lunch before meeting for the bus that would take us to see the pandas. The reserve is only about a half hour drive from the playing hall, and although traffic in Chengdu (actually, in all of China...) is very bad, we didn't have that problem so it was rather smooth.

Almost there!

Yasser Seirawan and Arthur Jussupow ready to see some cute creatures


The fact that you are going to see pandas is well advertised. They even play some scenes of the movie 'Kung-Fu Panda' in a big screen outside!

And in case you somehow forgot, there are many, many vendors outside selling panda gear

We had to wait for a few minutes before our tickets were ready. Meanwhile it was story time with Nigel Short.

Hou Yifan and her mother Wang Qian: two of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting

Ling Ziming, press for the Chinese Chess Association, was incredibly accomodating and was able to get me a press pass on a last minute request. Chinese are truly very good hosts!

Almost ready for the panda place. Officially known as the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. There are as many wild pandas as there are grandmasters in this World; it certainly is an important institute.

Arthur Jussupow's new hobby!

The first exhibit we visited was of the red pandas. These adorable creatures are native to southwest China and are classified as 'Vulnerable' as there are only about 10,000 of them living in the wild. Red pandas have no close living relatives, and although they resembles racoons and share the name with giant pandas, they are not so close to either.

The press officers of the tournament went wild with their cameras. Pandas are called "Da Xiong Mao" in Chinese, which means something like "Big Bear Cat". Red Pandas are called "Xiao Xiong Mao" or Small Bear Cat. This might explain why some of these girls tried meowing at it to grab its attention...

A World Champion also trying her hand at photography

The red pandas were very playful and active, constantly chasing and playing with each other

This peacock was just walking around without any restraint. Brave little guy.

Certainly not intimidated by rating or titles...

After a decent treck we finally found the main attractions: Pandas! Technically they are called Giant Pandas to distinguish them from the Red Pandas. Most of the ones we found were asleep in some strange position, like this one...

Some preferred more conventional poses

Hou Yifan posing next to what comprises 99% of a pandas diet: bamboo. Despite the fact that pandas can eat basically anything, from vegetables to meat, they choose to eat bamboo.

Meal time for this big guy

As mature and responsible chess players, we naturally got distracted by the pandas and
cut off from the main group. That's where everyone pulled out their cell phone...

After some more walking we found one very active panda who was walking back and forth, eating and looking at us wondering what exactly it is we wanted. Seeing such an endangered species was truly magnificent, and we can only hope that the giant panda, which has become a symbol for China, makes a recovery in its population.

Last but not least we visited a beautiful lake with unusual black swans!

Day Two

Despite being a strong rating pair, Jussupow and Chiburdanidze seem to be having problems coordinating over the board! They were dispatched by the team of Alisa Maric and Ye Jiangchuan after Chiburdanidze and Jussupow overpressed an equal endgame.

Yu Shaoteng and Xu Yuhua drew against Zhu Chen and Yasser Seirawan.

Round three under way!

We will bring you a full report of the latest rounds in an upcoming report.


Photos of Rounds two and three by Ling Ziming from the official website

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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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