Big surprises in Beijing

| 1 | Chess Event Coverage
BeijingThe gold medal for reigning world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, which she won in the blitz event at the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing, was not a big surprise. But what about Ukrainian GM Martyn Kravtsiv winning the men's blitz, or Ecuador winning the blitz for pairs?

Photo: Dimitri Reinderman

The first World Mind Sports Games is held in Beijing, China from October 3 to 18, 2008. Twenty five to thirty gold medals are being vied for by more than 3000 competitors from over 150 countries. There are five mind sports competitions: Bridge, Chess, Go, Draughts, and Xiangqi (Chinese Chess).

Despite the fact that FIDE is trying hard, the event is not being taken very seriously by the chess community. This is not a surprise, since none of the world's top 10 best players is playing in Beijing. (It should be added that some of the best female players are present.) In fact, the field of participants is a strange mixture of players from different countries.

For media such as ChessVibes it's not easy to cover it either. It doesn't really help that on the official website (which doesn't work properly on Firefox by the way) it's quite hard to find the games in PGN. (And why are the results hided behind a banner on the right hand side, instead of putting them in the main menu? Beats me.)

Anyway, below you'll find all results thus far, including PGNs.

Men's Individual Blitz The preliminary tournament (a 11-round blitz) took place on October 4th. These are the final standings:


The Gold Medal went to the relatively unknown young Ukrainian GM Martyn Kravtsiv, who surprised the strong competition to take the honors.

The winner of the preliminary tournament GM Mark Paragua of the Philippines did not have a good start and lost to GM Yuri Drozdovskij 2-0. Kravtsiv defeated GM Chirstodoulos Banikas of Greece in the other semi-final with 2-0 as well and then repeated this score against Drozdovskij in the final. Download the men blitz games in PGN

Playing Hall

The playing hall in Beijing | Photo: Dimitri Reinderman

Women's Individual Blitz Like in the men's section, the preliminary tournament (a 11-round blitz) took place on October 4th. The young Chinese star Hou Yifan was a convincing winner, including a sixth round victory over Kosteniuk and both qualified for the semi-finals together with the impressive ex World Champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova and another in form Chinese player Zhao Xue. These are the preliminary final standings:


World Mind Sports GamesIn the first semi-final Stefanova defeated Hou 2-1, while Kosteniuk did not leave any chances to Zhao and won 2-0. In the final match, it was a difficult battle of world champions, but nerves told in the end and Stefanova lost 1-2 to Kosteniuk who was again a big winner.

After taking the World Rapid Chess Championship title (in August in Mainz) and the World Chess Championship title (in Nalchik last month), the Queen of Russian chess won gold as well in the 1st World Mind Sports Games Blitz Individual Womens event. Download the women blitz games in PGN

Men's Individual Rapid The preliminary tournament (a 9-round blitz) took place October 5-7. These are the final standings:


In the first semi-final Bu Xiangzhi (China) defeated Zhang Zhong (Singapore) by winning the sudden-death game, after both rapid games had ended in a draw. Ukrainian GM Anton Korobov won against Alexandr Fier (Brazil) to qualify for the final, which was won by Bu Xiangzhi 1?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?. Zhang Zhong won the bronze medal. Download the men rapid games in PGN

Women's Individual Rapid Like the men's section, the preliminary tournament (a 9-round blitz) took place October 5-7. These are the final standings:


Stefanova added Gold to her Silver from the blitz. She won the final against Zhao Xue 2-0; the bronze medal went to another rising Chinese star: WGM Huang Qian, who beat IM Jovanka Houska. Download the women rapid games in PGN

Mixed Pairs Blitz There's a small difference in Beijing that might have stayed unnoticed until now: in the women's tournaments no men are allowed (which is normal in the chess world) but in the men's tournaments, now female players are allowed either. On the other hand, at the World Mind Sports Games there are competitions for mixed pairs.

On October 8 the preliminary tournament for the Mixed Pairs Blitz event was held. These are the final standings:


While Ukraine was comfortably first with 15 match points, it took the tiebreak rules to separate the remaining qualifiers from unlucky fifth placed Singapore - fielding former top China players and husband and wife team GM Zhang Zhong and IM Li Roufen - who fell out.

Also in contention at various times were Greece, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Two rounds before the end, the Dutch team consisting of GMs Reinderman and Peng were still clear first, but they lost both their last two matches 2-0.

In the play-off for third place Ukraine proved too strong for Iran, winning the first match 2-0 and drawing the second 1-1 to take Bronze.

There was however great drama in the finals between India and Ecuador. All four players won and lost one game each in their two matches (1-1 and 1-1) and in the play-off game between GM Sasikiran Krishnan of India and GM Carlos Franco Matamoros of Ecuador, Sasikiran had the White pieces and 6 minutes while Matamoros had Black and 5 minutes and draw odds. In a time scramble in a position where Black could not realistically lose in normal conditions, Matamoros accidently displaced a piece after pressing his clock.

Under the tournament rules he did not have the opportunity to reset the piece as it was not on his time and so Sasikiran made a claim which had to be upheld by the arbiter. So pending the decision of the appeals committee, India has won Gold and Ecuador the Silver.

However, the appeals committee ordered the game to be replayed in the interest of fair play. And in the replay, GM Matamoros beat GM Sasikiran to secure Ecuador the Gold Medal! Download the blitz pairs games in PGN

Information courtesy of FIDE

Links: If you know of more participants who are writing from Beijing, let us know in the comments and we'll add them to the links list.
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