Zhu/Seirawan, Xu/Yu Share First at Mixed Pairs Event

Zhu/Seirawan, Xu/Yu Share First at Mixed Pairs Event

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They were the clear favorites and started with two wins, but then stumbled. Hou Yifan and Nigel Short had to be satisfied with third place, behind shared winners Zhu Chen/Yasser Seirawan and Xu Yuhua/Yu Shaoteng, at the International Star Mixed Pair Tournament in Chengdu, China.

In our first report, we saw that rating favorites Hou Yifan and Nigel Short were paired with each other, and started this short event with two wins on the first day.

Still without access to Twitter or Facebook, “in the land of pandas,” Short posted an update on the English Chess Forum that didn't promise equally good chess on the second day:

“Horrible chess today. I am in pain.”

So what happened? Well, a draw and a loss. They split the point with Yu Yuhua and Yu Shaoteng, starting with an endgame advantage, then losing a pawn but holding a N vs. B ending. And then it went really wrong, against Zhu Chen & Yasser Seirawan. Remember that each game was played between two pairs, and each pair alternated the moves. The men chose the opening moves and so they played all odd moves, while their partners played all even moves.

Yasser Seirawan & Zhu Chen

On the English Chess Forum, Short wrote:

“Basically we blew it yesterday with a collective collapse of concentration against Yasser Seirawan and Zhu Chen, turning a clearly better position into a dead lost one in the space of about two minutes (and half a dozen moves). In such a short event, you can not afford to lose key games like that.”

With this game, Zhu Chen and Yasser Seirawan immediately took the sole lead, with 3.5/4, and they were followed by Xu Yuhua & Yu Shaoteng, who were on 3.0/4. Zhu/Seirawan finished the tournament with a quick and uneventful draw against Maia Chiburdanidze and Artur Jussupow, which gave Xu/Yu the chance to catch them in first place. It was the bishop pair that did the trick:

Yu Shaoteng & Xu Yuhua

Although it was too late, Hou Yifan & Nigel Short recovered with a last-round win. Please note that the end of the game is not correct and must have been the result of a transmission error with the digital board.

Nigel Short & Hou Yifan

For some reason, in more than half (8 out of 15) of the games the French Defense was seen. Probably it was a coincidence, as the players don't seem to have spent a lot of time preparing for this promotional, and not too serious (but fun!) tournament. On Chessgames.com, Short wrote:

“I overheard Yasser 'preparing' for about 20 seconds, in total, with Zhu Chen prior to the last game. Artur Yusupov didn't even bring a laptop.”

The tournament took place 6-9 July in Chengdu, China. The following pairs played: 

  • GM Hou Yifan (China, 2629) & GM Nigel Short (England, 2665)
  • GM Maia Chiburdanidze (Georgia, 2500) & GM Artur Jussupow (Germany, 2582)
  • GM Xu Yuhua (China, 2465 & GM Yu Shaoteng (China, 2497)
  • GM Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2461) & GM Yasser Seirawan (USA, 2620)
  • WGM Alisa Maric (Serbia, 2387) & GM Ye Jiangchuan (China, 2602)
  • WGM Liu Shilan (China, 2249) & GM Xie Jun (China, 2574)

International Star Mixed Pair Tournament 2014 | Final Standings

# Pair 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Zhu/Seirawan phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 ½ 1 4.0/5 8.50
2 Xu/Yu ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 1 4.0/5 7.25
3 Hou/Short 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 1 3.5/5
4 Maric/Ye 0 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 1.5/5
5 Chiburdanidze/Jussupow ½ 0 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/5 2.50
6 Liu/Xie 0 0 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/5 1.25

Earlier report