Chess pow­er­house

China makes its mark on in­ter­na­tional chess scene.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LEISURE - QUAH SENG SUN

FORTY years ago, if I were to men­tion that chess was a pop­u­lar game in China, I’m sure that you wouldn’t be think­ing of any other type of chess than xi­angqi, bet­ter known to many of us as Chi­nese Chess.

And you wouldn’t be wrong. Yes, down the cen­turies, xi­angqi was the most pop­u­lar board game in China and really, noth­ing has changed till to­day. It will al­ways re­main their most pop­u­lar board game.

But there was a small sec­tion of peo­ple in China who de­cided on the big step to cross over and play what is known to you and me as in­ter­na­tional chess. It wasn’t that they were aban­don­ing the game that was their her­itage but more that they were the in­no­va­tors who de­cided to ex­plore be­yond their cul­tural bound­aries.

In the years since then, there is no deny­ing that China has be­come a very sig­nif­i­cant player on the in­ter­na­tional chess stage.

At the last Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Man­siysk for ex­am­ple, the Chi­nese na­tional chess team fin­ished fifth among 145 coun­tries in the open event. That was no mean feat. Ahead of China were only the Ukraine, the Rus­sian first team, Is­rael and Hun­gary, all very high-pow­ered teams.

Plus, breath­ing down the Chi­nese necks were the Rus­sian sec­ond team, Ar­me­nia, Spain, the United States and France. These teams fin­ished with the same points as China but they lost out on the tie-breaks.

And in the Women’s Chess Olympiad, the Chi­nese women were sec­ond be­hind the first Rus­sian women’s team. All in all, there is no deny­ing that as a chess-play­ing na­tion, the Chi­nese are very strong in­deed.

But what about their in­di­vid­ual chess play­ers? For this, there are two ref­er­ence points: one is the static World Chess Fed­er­a­tion’s rat­ing list that is pub­lished ev­ery two months, and the other is the rar­i­fied chess live rat­ing list that ranks the chess play­ers in the world who have an in­ter­na­tional rat­ing of at least 2700.

The live rat­ing list is dy­nam­i­cally chang­ing all the time and presently, there are only 39 chess play­ers on it. If a player gets onto this list, he is among the crème de la crème. China can claim to have two play­ers there: Wang Yue is ranked 13th in the world and Wang Hao is joint 15th.

Lately, China has also been mak­ing its mark as an in­ter­na­tional chess or­gan­iser. In July, it or­gan­ised the Asian youth in­vi­ta­tional chess cham­pi­onships over var­i­ous age groups.

And it was only last month that China or­gan­ised the elite third Nan­jing Pearl Spring chess tour­na­ment.

SJKC Jln David­son open

SJK Cina Jalan David­son in Kuala Lumpur will or­gan­ise an open chess tour­na­ment for un­der-16 play­ers at the school this Sun­day. Six rounds, 30-minute time con­trol games. To­day is the clos­ing date for en­tries. De­tails from Collin Mad­haven (016212 3578) and Bob Yap (012-287 8378).

Fide-rated tour­na­ment

The Cheras Chess Academy will hold a Fide-rated open tour­na­ment, lim­ited to play­ers with Fide rat­ings of 1950 and be­low, at Pusat Ke­ce­mer­lan­gan Sukan Cochrane in Jalan Cochrane, Kuala Lumpur, from Nov 20-24. Seven rounds, two-hour play-to-fin­ish time con­trol games. En­try fees are RM50 (Fide-rated play­ers) and RM80 (non-Fide-rated play­ers). De­tails from Collin

Perak closed

Chess camp

How high cal­i­bre was this dou­ble round-robin event? Well, in the first in­stance, only six play­ers were in­vited. In the sec­ond in­stance, the or­gan­is­ers wanted only the best play­ers and who would be among the best play­ers in the world if not for Mag­nus Carlsen, Ve­selin Topalov and world chess cham­pion Viswanathan Anand? Yes, in­deed.

In the third in­stance, it was the first time that a chess tour­na­ment any­where would fea­ture three play­ers whose rat­ings were 2800 or higher.

For 10 days then, all eyes were on Nan­jing. There were only three games played ev­ery round but they were three games of the high­est pro­file.

Not that the games were free of er­rors but on the con­trary, the er­rors con­trib­uted to the ten­sion and made this event one of the finest ever or­gan­ised.

Carlsen was in su­perb form and he prac­ti­cally ran away with the first prize of 80,000. That was equiv­a­lent to earn­ing about RM34,400 per game. Not bad for a player who was just a month shy of his 20th birth­day.

Anand also turned in a strong per­for­mance but it was not enough to chal­lenge Carlsen for the first prize. In fact, at one stage of the tour­na­ment, Anand was in dan­ger of fin­ish­ing third af­ter los­ing to Eti­enne Bacrot but a com­bi­na­tion of luck and hard work landed him the sec­ond prize of 55,000 (about RM236,000).

Bacrot was de­lighted with his third plac­ing and I sup­pose, Vu­gar Gashimov, too, who fin­ished fourth. An off-form Topalov found him­self in fifth place, while a most dis­ap­pointed Wang Yue fin­ished last. He had the Mad­haven (016-212 3578, geo­dat@ ya­hoo.com). The Perak In­ter­na­tional Chess As­so­ci­a­tion to­gether with the Ma­jlis Sukan Ne­gri Perak and KLK Bhd will jointly or­gan­ise the Perak closed chess cham­pi­onship at the De­wan MSN in Ipoh from Nov 27-28. Only play­ers born, re­sid­ing and work­ing in the state are el­i­gi­ble to take part. Nine rounds, 45-minute time con­trol games. Con­tact Yunus (013390 8129) to reg­is­ter. A fun and in­for­ma­tive Kids For Chess camp for be­gin­ners, in­ter­me­di­ate-level and as­pir­ing tour­na­ment home sup­port but this was just not his tour­na­ment.

This game is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of the high ten­sion in this event. If Carlsen had won this game, he would have pulled far, far ahead of his ri­vals and if Anand had lost this game, who knows what psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age it would have in­flicted on him. But a draw, well, it al­lowed him to fight on for an­other day. White: Mag­nus Carlsen (Nor­way) Black: Viswanathan Anand (In­dia)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nf5 8.Nf3 0-0 9.d4 d5 10.c3 Bd6 11.Bd3 Nce7 12.Nbd2 c6 13.Nf1 Ng6 14.Qc2 Nfh4 15.Nxh4 Qxh4 16.g3 Qd8 17. Ne3 Re8 18.Bd2 Nf8 19.Nf5 Bc7 20. Rxe8 Qxe8 21.Re1 Be6 22.Qc1 f6 23. Qd1 Qd7 24.Qf3 Re8 25.h4 (Un­de­ni­ably, White has the bet­ter game here.)

25...Bf7 26.Rf1 Bg6 27.h5 Bxf5 28. Bxf5 Qf7 29.Kg2 g6 30.Bd3 f5 31.Rh1 Ne6 32.hxg6 hxg6 33.g4 (The first sign of ten­sion) 33…Bf4 34.Be3 (34. Bxf4 is an­swered by 34...fxg4) 34... fxg4? (The sec­ond sign of ten­sion. 34...Bxe3 would have been cor­rect. Now, White in­creases his pres­sure on Black.)

35.Qxg4 Kg7 36.Rh5 (The threat of 37.Rf5 would be win­ning.) 36...Bxe3 37.fxe3 Nf8 38.Rh3 Kg8 39.Rf3 Qe6 40.Qf4 Kg7 41.b3 Qe7 42.c4 Rd8 43. Rh3 Rd6 44.Qh6+ Kg8 45.cxd5 cxd5 46.e4 Qg7 47.Qe3 Qe7 48.e5 Rc6 49. Qh6 Qg7 50.Qh4 a6 51.Rf3 Qd7 52.b4 b5 53.a3 Qc7 54.Kg3 Kg7 55.Bb1 Nh7 56.Ba2 Qd7 57.Bb3 Rc1 58.Kh2 Rb1 59.Bc2 Rb2 60.Rc3 Qf7 61.Kg3 (The third sign of grow­ing ten­sion. Af­ter 61.e6, Black’s over­worked queen can­not de­fend both his sec­ond rank and the g6 pawn.) 61...Nf8 62.Rf3 Qe6 63.Qd8?? (The fourth sign of ten­sion. White throws the win away, hav­ing missed 63.Rf6 Qe8 64.Rf2 Ra2 65. Qf6+ Kg8 66.Bb3 Rxa3 67.Rf3. The game heads to a draw.) 63...Nd7 64. Rf2 Ra2 65.Kh2 Qg4 66.Qe7+ Kh6 67.Qd8 Qh5+ 68.Kg2 Qg4+ ½-½ play­ers will be held at the Pan­dan Lake Club in Pan­dan Per­dana, Kuala Lumpur, from Dec 1-2. En­try fees are RM90 per par­tic­i­pant. Clos­ing date is Nov 30. De­tails from www. kid­s4chess.com.

Pe­nang Chess League

The Pe­nang Chess As­so­ci­a­tion will or­gan­ise the an­nual Pe­nang Chess League at SJK Cina Kheng Thean in Jalan Van Praagh, Ge­orge Town, from Dec 4-5. Seven rounds, one­hour time con­trol games. The event is open to teams from the pub­lic sec­tor, busi­ness com­mu­nity, fac­to­ries, in­sti­tu­tions of learn­ing and reg­is­tered so­ci­eties and clubs. En­try fees per team are RM150 (open cat­e­gory), RM90 (un­der-18 teams) and RM60 (un­der-12 teams). En­tries close on Dec 1. De­tails from Tan Eng Seong (012-429 9517).

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