Hainan Danzhou and Wei Yi’s immortal game

by Sagar Shah
7/4/2015 – The 6th Hainan Danzhou tournament is being held in Danzhou, with top Chinese players. The event will be remembered for a game that is already being labelled "Game of the Decade" and was played by a 16-year-old youngster rated 2724. We asked Garry Kasparov to comment for us, and he did so with one word: "Impressive!" We have annotated it for you in somewhat greater detail.

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6th Hainan Danzhou and Wei Yi’s immortal game

The 6th Hainan Danzhou tournament is being held from the 2nd to 11th of July 2015 in Danzhou. Located on an island on the southern-most region of China, this tournament requires special attention from chess fans because all the super-strong Chinese players who have been splashing chess news pages with their fantastic performances in the past year or so are playing here.

The major attractions of the tournament are the top rated Chinese player and the guy who has worked with Magnus Carlsen Ding Liren; the winner of the Capablanca Memorial and the strongest open tournament ever held, the Qatar Masters Yu Yangyi; and the youngest person in the world to break into 2700 Wei Yi.

Apart from these three big stars, the tournament also features: the first Chinese player ever to cross 2700, Wang Yue; a member of the Gold winning Chinese Olympiad team and back into 2700, Ni Hua; the youngest grandmaster in the world at the age of 13 in 1998, Bu Xiangzhi; and the two promising and upcoming youngsters Wang Chen, who is still an IM, and the reigning World Junior Champion Lu Shanglei. These eight Chinese players have been joined by Cuba’s number two Batista Bruzon, and India’s number five Krishnan Sasikiran.

The opening ceremony was well attended

The participants of the 6th Danzhou Hainan: Yu Yangyi, Wei Yi, Wang Yue, Ni Hua, Bu Xiangzhi,
Batista Bruzon, Krishnan Sasikiran, Lu Shanglei and Wang Chen (Ding Liren is missing)

The vice mayor of the Danzhou Zhang, who made this event possible

The drawing of lots ceremony

The tournament has a total prize fund of 320,000 Yuans (approximately US $51,560) and a first prize of 100,000 Yuans (US $16100). After two rounds this is how things stand.

Three players lead the event with a score of 1.5/2: Wei Yi, Wang Yue and Yu Yangyi

While there have been only three decisive games out of the ten that have taken place, the talk of the town is definitely Wei Yi’s win over Batista Bruzon in round two. The game was so well played by 16-year-old youngster that people have started calling it the game of the century or the game of the decade – or as the Indian GM Vishnu Prasanna puts it: “the longest combination he has ever seen.”

Wei Yi who is only 16 years one month and two days old, already
has a live rating of 2728 and is 27th on the live world rankings

I could just show you Wei Yi’s brilliancy along with the analysis. I am sure you will be awestruck by the Chinese GM’s tactical abilities. But if you want to learn something from this game you should try putting yourself in the shoes of the Chinese grandmaster. Hence, I have selected five positions from the game and posed questions to you. If you look at the game after trying to solve them you will be in a much better position to appreciate Wei Yi’s play.

Wei,Yi (2724) - Bruzon Batista,Lazaro (2669) [B40]
6th Hainan Danzhou GM Danzhou CHN (2.4), 03.07.2015

Position after 21…Nxd5

This is where it all began. Black has just taken the knight on d5.
What should White play? (thinking time: two minutes)

I hope that you did not think about the mechanical recapture of the knight with exd5 but instead found the sparkling sacrifice 22.Rxf7!! Of course the details are intricate and it is impossible to calculate everything right to the very end. But a good intuitive attacker will never miss such a chance.

Position after 23…Kxf6 (variation from the game)

The black king looks exposed and weak. How should you finish him off?
(thinking time: three minutes)

24. Rf1+ looks the most natural and tempting. But turns out that it is a mistake and after 24…Nf4! Black can hold his position together. The easiest way to win from the diagrammed position is to just play 24.exd5! when the Black king gets mated very quickly.

Position after 24…Kxd5

The black king is running away! How do you stop him?
(thinking time: two minutes)

One of the golden rules of attacking is to not let the king escape from the scene of action. Easier said than done! If the black king were to get to c6, he would be untouchable. Hence Wei Yi came up with the beautiful decoying move 25.Be4+!! The king is dragged into the open.

Position after 25…Kxe4

The king has been lured forward. There are two moves that win now, both them related to the control of a crucial square. Wei Yi found one of them. Can you find both? (thinking time: five minutes)

The most important square in this position is d5. Hence, the two winning moves are 26.Qf7!! as played by Wei Yi and 26.c4!! as shown by guys like Komodo, Houdini and Rybka.

Position after 28...Ke4

White can give a discovered check over here. But unfortunately his own queen
is also attacked. What did Wei Yi come up with? (thinking time: two minutes)

29.Qb3!! is the only winning move here. This not only brings the queen to safety but also threatens a mate in one.

The above answers are not comprehensive. If you have any doubts, please go over the game on our JavaScript board below or download the PGN file and look at it on your ChessBase software. You can find all the detailed analysis in it.

[Event "6th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2015.07.03"] [Round "2.4"] [White "Wei, Yi"] [Black "Bruzon Batista, Lazaro"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B40"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2669"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2015.07.02"] {There is something about the way this young Chinese kid plays. He doesn't just beat his opponents, he crushes them. And his combinations are so crisp that you are left with this simple question in your head: "How does he do it against the best in the world?" Have a look at this game against Bruzon Batista which many say is the "Modern day Immortal Game."} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. Be2 Nc6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Qc7 {The game has now transposed into a Sicilian Taimanov.} 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 Be7 {This move transposes into the Sicilian Scheveningen. An opening which has a rich tradition and always leads to interesting positions.} (8... Bb4 {Pure Taimanov players prefer this move.}) 9. f4 d6 10. Kh1 O-O 11. Qe1 $5 {This idea of putting your queen on g3 is common in the Scheveningen – thousands of games have been played in the past. } Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. Qg3 Bb7 14. a3 {Usually a move like a3 is a waste of time in the Sicilian. But here it is totally justified as it is important to keep the knight on c3.} Rad8 15. Rae1 Rd7 {It might seem funny to think about why exactly Black placed his rook on d7. But in doing so, he vacated the d8 square for his queen. This setup of Rd7-Qd8 is very effective against a e4-e5 break.} 16. Bd3 Qd8 (16... Re8 {is what you see in more games.}) 17. Qh3 g6 ( 17... h6 {is the computer's move. But as Scheveningen experts already know, this is a very dangerous move and any sacrifice later on h6 would be almost decisive.} 18. Re3 $40) 18. f5 $1 {A strong attacking move. Something has gone horribly wrong for Bruzon right out of the opening.} e5 19. Be3 Re8 {Little did Bruzon know that leaving the f7 point undefended would lead to a beautiful combination.} 20. fxg6 hxg6 21. Nd5 $5 Nxd5 {[#]It is here that Wei Yi's brilliant combination begins.} (21... Bxd5 {is the lesser of the evils but after} 22. exd5 $16 {Black's position is pretty bad.}) 22. Rxf7 $3 {The term bolt from the blue looks pretty clichéd here. Bruzon, a 2669 rated player, must definitely have anticipated this move, right? It is a very common pattern of dragging the black king out. What exactly did he have in mind against Rxf7 is unclear, because even a minute's glance is enough to convince you that the attack is very dangerous, even though it cannot be calculated to the end.} Kxf7 (22... Nf6 {is met with} 23. Qe6 $1 Kh8 24. Bg5 $18 {When Black is absolutely busted.}) 23. Qh7+ Ke6 (23... Kf8 24. Bh6# {is easy to calculate.}) (23... Kf6 {The computer thinks that this is the easiest move to refute, but I disagree. Rf1+ is very tempting and it leads to a draw. The correct move here is to take the knight.} 24. exd5 $1 (24. Rf1+ $2 {is incorrect due to} Nf4 25. Rxf4+ exf4 26. Bd4+ Ke6 (26... Kg5 $2 27. h4+ Kg4 28. Qxg6+ {with mate to follow in short order.}) 27. Qh3+ (27. Qxg6+ Bf6 $19) 27... Kf7 28. Qh7+ Ke6 $11 {and White has nothing more than a draw at this point.}) 24... e4 25. Rf1+ Ke5 26. Qxg6 exd3 27. Qf5#) 24. exd5+ Kxd5 {Once again we reach a critical crossroad. Black is threatening to run away with Kc6-c7. White must stop him at any cost.} ( 24... Bxd5 {White has only one way to win at this point.} 25. Bxg6 $1 (25. Qxg6+ Bf6 26. Bf5+ Ke7 27. Qh7+ Bf7 $19 {And the black king has been nicely cordoned off.}) 25... Rf8 26. Qh3+ Kf6 27. Rf1+ $1 Kxg6 28. Qh6#) 25. Be4+ $3 ( 25. Qf7+ $2 Kc6 $19) 25... Kxe4 {[#]} (25... Ke6 26. Qxg6+ Bf6 27. Qf5+ Ke7 28. Qh7+ Ke6 (28... Kf8 29. Bh6+ Rg7 (29... Bg7 30. Rf1+ $18) 30. Bxg7+ Bxg7 31. Rf1+ $18) 29. Bf5+ Kd5 30. Bxd7 $18 {Pawn up with the opponent's king on d5. Things couldn't get better!}) 26. Qf7 $3 {An extremely difficult move to foresee. Such moves are reminiscent of Tal who used to sacrifice material without care and then make a quiet move taking control of the important squares. Here the d5 square was the most important. Even though a piece and rook down Wei Yi takes control of that square.} (26. c4 $3 {The engine points out this fascinating move which helps to get the c4 square later on also wins.} bxc4 27. Qxg6+ Kd5 28. Qf7+ Kc6 (28... Ke4 29. Qxc4+ Kf5 30. Rf1+ Kg6 31. Qf7#) 29. Qxc4# {Now we see why c4 was such an amazing move!}) 26... Bf6 27. Bd2+ ( 27. Bb6+ Kf5 28. Rf1+ Kg5 29. Be3+ Kh5 {It might seem that Qh7 would end the game here, but unfortunately the rook on d7 wouldn't allow that. In fact the black king is pretty safe on the h5 square.}) 27... Kd4 28. Be3+ {No harm in repeating the position to gain some time. But it just shows that things were not so easy for Wei Yi on the board. He had not yet found the exact way to win the game.} Ke4 29. Qb3 $3 {Once again fantastic control shown by the young lad. Qd3 is a mate and something must be done about it.} (29. Qxg6+ $2 Kd5 $19 { losing control over the d5 square is unforgivable.}) 29... Kf5 30. Rf1+ Kg4 { What to do next? The black king looks like a ripe juicy target, but is there a way to finish him off?} 31. Qd3 $3 {Isn't this unbelievable? Black has so many pieces, but none of them can come to the rescue of their king. And by the way this is the only winning move.} (31. Bh6 $2 Kh5 32. Qh3+ Bh4 $19 {and White falls short of ammunition.}) (31. Bd2 Kh5 32. Qh3+ Bh4 {is similar.}) (31. c4 { trying to get the queen into the game from d1} Bxg2+ 32. Kxg2 Qa8+ 33. Kg1 Qe4 $11 {and once the black queen enters the defence, things become very complicated.}) 31... Bxg2+ {Unable to find anything Bruzon gives up his bishop in desperation.} (31... Rg7 32. Qe2+ Kh4 33. h3 Qd7 34. Kh2 Bxg2 35. Qxg2 Bd8 36. Qf2+ Kh5 37. Qf3+ Kh4 38. Rg1 $18) 32. Kxg2 Qa8+ {The queen finally enters the game, but it's too late.} 33. Kg1 {Unfortunately the black queen has no squares in the centre from where she can join in the battle.} Bg5 (33... e4 34. Qe2+ Kh4 35. Rf4+ Kg5 36. Rxe4+ Kf5 37. Qf3#) 34. Qe2+ Kh4 (34... Kh3 35. Bxg5 $18) 35. Bf2+ Kh3 36. Be1 $1 {There is just no way to prevent the mate with Rf3 or Qd3. What a mind Wei Yi must have to see all these mating patterns in this king hunt, and that too with the clock ticking on!} (36. Be1 Bf4 37. Qd3+ Kg4 38. Qxg6+ Bg5 39. h3+ Kxh3 40. Qf5#) 1-0

Magnus Carlsen, here I come!

We sent the game to Garry Kasparov in Skype and received a one-word commentary from him: “Impressive!" Garry, who chooses his words carefully when it comes to appreciating someone’s play, surely liked what he saw! Incidentally the game reminds us of the following historic classic, known as "The Immortal King Walk":

[Event "London casual"] [Site "London"] [Date "1912.10.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Lasker, Edward"] [Black "Thomas, George Alan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A83"] [PlyCount "35"] [EventDate "1912.10.29"] [EventType "game"] [EventCountry "ENG"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1998.11.10"] 1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. e4 fxe4 7. Nxe4 b6 8. Ne5 O-O 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. Qh5 Qe7 {[#]} 11. Qxh7+ Kxh7 12. Nxf6+ Kh6 13. Neg4+ Kg5 14. h4+ Kf4 15. g3+ Kf3 16. Be2+ Kg2 17. Rh2+ Kg1 18. Kd2# ({Instead of the once-in-a-lifetime move:} 18. O-O-O#) 1-0

If you haven't had enough of the Wei Yi game, here is an this 18-minute video by ChessBase author Simon Williams, whose enthusiasm and especially metaphors reach historical heights (really, Simon, weasel poo on a doorknob?):

And here is half an hour of analysis by Tryfon Gavriel:

Also you may want to listen to Domnic Lawson speaking about the game on BBC4 (starting at 1:49:55)

The tournament is extremely interesting from the point of view of predicting the winner. With Wei Yi’s scintillating form he looks like a favourite here, but players like Yu Yangyi and Ding Liren will surely give him a tough fight. What do you think? Write your opinions and predictions in the comments section below.

Pictures taken from the official website


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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