Sam Shankland and Zhu Chen visit Hong Kong

by Antonio Pereira
9/11/2018 – The ActiveKids Chess Academy in Hong Kong hosted two strong events with outstanding players. First, 2722-rated GM Sam Shankland gave a lecture on strategic positions, and then former Women's World Champion Zhu Chen gave a simultaneous exhibition. August has been a busy month for the Hong Kong young chess talents. It was, undoubtedly, a great learning experience. | Photos: Official website

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Learning from the best

Current U.S. champion Sam Shankland had an amazing first semester this year. His wins at the American Continental, the Capablanca Memorial and the U.S. Championship put him in the spotlight. The Hong Kong ActiveKids Chess Academy invited Shankland to share his knowledge with a group of promising young chess talents.  And so he did, before heading to China to participate at the Danzhou GM Tournament. 

The Californian grandmaster was contacted by the club's Founder & CEO Grace So and happily lectured a group of talented young kids. Sam chose the topic Calculation in Strategic Positions and used instructive explanations to enrich the kids' chess knowledge. Among the young talents that attended the lecture, Samuel Lam, Oliver King and Maahir Upal stood out for their valuable contributions.  

Sam Shankland with ActiveKids Founder & CEO Grace So

In order to transmit useful and instructive strategic ideas, Shankland made use of games by World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The following 2013 game of the Norwegian against Boris Gelfand was deeply analysed:


When the lecture was over, Sam received iconic Chinese gifts in an act of recognition organised by the Academy. All the attendants showed great appreciation for the grandmaster's visit. The American then gave an autograph session, where both children and adults took the chance to get their favourite books signed by one of the strongest players in the world.

The instructors at the Chess Academy also shared with the strong grandmaster. Venezuelan IM Juan Röhl, Mexican expert Edgar de Anda and the local FIDE Arbiter Sidney Lai received some tips from a player that not only competes at the highest level but also teaches in the United States.

A young fan with Sam

Sam did not leave Hong Kong without getting a taste of the typical Chinese Dim Sum meals. The ActiveKids Warriors team and the Academy’s CEO joined the California native in enjoying a succulent lunch at the Jockey Club Moon Koon restaurant.

Zhu Chen in town

The Hong Kong Chess Federation, with the help of the Chess Academy, organised a simultaneous exhibition with the former Women's World Champion, Zhu Chen. The event was also held at the ActiveKids Academy headquarters in Kennedy Town. It featured the presence of prominent members of the Hong Kong Federation, such as Robin Lai and KK Chan.

Nine outstanding players of various ages had the chance of facing the strong grandmaster. The exhibition lasted two hours — Zhu Chen managed to show her experience and solidity by winning eight games and drawing one. The young William Shi was the one who defended his position successfully, and he did it by creating complications with his rook and bishop. 

Zhu Chen with organisers and some of her opponents

All the games from the exhibition, with analysis by IM Juan Röhl:


Zhu Chen currently holds a 2423 Elo rating. Originally from Wenzhou, China, she now represents Qatar, where she married the strong Qatari GM Mohammed Al-Modiahki. She became the ninth Women's World Champion in 2001, when she defeated the Russian GM Alexandra Kosteniuk 5:3. 

It was a successful event all-around

More about ActiveKids

Since 2004, ActiveKids has been delivering unique, top-quality educational programs to schools and children of all ages in Hong Kong and Greater China. With over 60+ participating schools and clubs, they have established a track record of credibility and growth with an ever-growing network of partner organisations.

The Chess Academy is a pioneer amongst children's chess programs in Hong Kong. In operation for the last 14 years, the program not only teaches children to play chess, but also organises small and large scale tournaments to offer a comprehensive experience for children. The program boasts the highest ranking of coaches in Hong Kong. Juan Armando Röhl Montes, an International Master, joined The Chess Academy in November 2017.


Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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