Chess grandmasters: China is progressing! And Wesley wins in Bilbao.


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One million of chess grandmasters…

China debuted in the Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires (1978), where they ended in the 20th position, among fifty teams. Their first two boards were defended by Ye Jiangchuan and Liu Wenche, who soon became chess grandmasters. The entire world will remember the spectacular miniature that the latter made with the chess grandmaster Donner, with a sacrifice of queen included.

Liu Wenche was punished during the time of the Cultural Revolution. He spent his time in something that would have been very helpful for the chess sport in his country:

He spent entire days in the National Library of China, translating books from Russian into Chinese.

Later, his efforts and studies were paid-off as he was appointed as the Chief Trainer for the Chinese team. This position is now occupied by Ye Jiangchuan, who declared that “after a decade of hard work, it is time for a Chinese player to win the crown jewel: the individual world title.”

Was he thinking of Yi Wei and Liren Ding? Time will tell. There are many good Chinese players rising to the forefront, and retrospectively the headline of the German magazine Schach-Echo seems to make sense after the Olympics of 1978: “One million of chess grandmasters”.

Was Wesley lucky?

Wesley So was proclaimed the champion of the Bilbao Chess Masters, after winning the playoff against Anish Giri (1,5-0,5).

Some people simply said that he was lucky. Let’s see. In the first game during the playoff (4 m. +3 seconds per player), Giri played 42…Nf4 in a superior position (although not won). And later, in view of the evident checkmate in f5, he surrendered. The second was an Italian with d3 prolonged until the move 98, in which each team had R+B+2 pawns. It was a draw.

Now we will analyze the “luck” of So.

In the tournament, the chess grandmasters So and Giri tied in the first position with 8 points (victory = 3 points). Which means, +1 =5 for each. Hence, So beat Liren Ding and Giri did the same with Anand.

The performance of Wesley was 2851 and for Giri, it was 2838.

The first aspect of this analysis is that to “have luck” in a playoff, one should first of all have been able to reach the playoff.

In the second place, if one makes a major mistake, and still wins, that is luck. If your opponent makes a mistake and you take advantage of that, that is not luck – that is competence. As long as one knows that there are also mistakes in chess. And if they do not exist, as Tartakower would say, we would have to invent them. Some people go on to add that fortune favors the bold and while others say that champions always have luck.

Congratulations, Wes.


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