Li Chao Replaces Karjakin At Norway Chess

Li Chao Replaces Karjakin At Norway Chess

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Li Chao is the replacement for Sergey Karjakin at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. The Chinese grandmaster is the current world number 15.

After Sergey Karjakin's withdrawal the organizers of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament quickly found a proper replacement: the 26-year-old Chinese grandmaster Li Chao. Rated 2755, he is in fact the world number 15 and the second highest rated Chinese player, behind Ding Liren.

The list of participants in Stavanger is now as follows:

2016 Altibox Norway Chess | Participants

# Name Fed Rtg Born
1 Magnus Carlsen NOR 2851 1990
2 Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2801 1975
3 Anish Giri NED 2790 1994
4 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2788 1990
5 Levon Aronian ARM 2784 1982
6 Pavel Eljanov UKR 2765 1983
7 Pentala Harikrishna IND 2763 1986
8 Li Chao CHN 2755 1989
9 Veselin Topalov BUL 2754 1975
10 Nils Grandelius SWE 2649 1993

Even though this will be his first super GM tournament, accepting the invitation wasn't like shooting fish in a barrel for Li. As it turned out, he had to postpone his wedding (set for April 30th) “after thorough discussions with his family,” as noted in the press release.

Besides, it means he will be celebrating his 27th birthday during the third round, on April 21st. He was born on that day in 1989 in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China.

Li Chao came equal fourth at the World Junior Championship in 2005 scoring 8.5/13, two points behind the winner Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. This was Li's first GM norm. He became China's 23rd grandmaster in 2007, when he was 18 years old.

Li Chao won a number of tournaments in his career so far. To name a few: the Queenstown Chess Classic (2012), the Colombo International (2012), the Indonesia Open (2012), the Doeberl Cup (2013), the Asian Continental (2013), the Reykjavik Open (2014), the Barcelona Masters (2014), the Neckar Open (2015), the Capelle la Grande open (2015) and the Graz Open (2016).

He's playing a lot in Europe (this weekend he's active in the Bundesliga!) and that's no coincidence. At the moment Li is banned from all Chinese teams and tournaments. According to GM Ian Rogers this ban, which started last summer, lasts for more than a year and is the result of a “dispute between Li and the sponsor of one of the powerful Beijing clubs.” 

The latest news on this topic comes from Tarjei Svensen, who writes that relations between Li and the Chinese Chess Association are improving since the association has a new President.

Last summer Li Chao defeated Peter Leko of Hungary 4-2 in a friendly match held in Szeged, Hungary. The Chinese player won two games and drew the other four. Here's game three of that match:

On the FIDE rating list his name is given as “Li Chao b” since there is another player named Li Chao. He is one year older but rated “only” 2320.

For a further introduction of Li Chao let's look at two videos. The first is a great one from the 2014 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, where the Chinese GM gave one of the traditional masterclasses. You can see (hear) that his English is rather good.

And here's another one, from the 2015 Qatar Masters (the tournament where he played his first game with Magnus Carlsen — a loss). Li Chao reached 3.0/3 thanks to a win with the black pieces against the Indian grandmaster Sethuraman, and explained the game in the studio with host GM Alejandro Ramirez.

The Altibox Norway Chess tournament starts on Monday 18 April with the traditional blitz tournament to determine the pairing numbers. The first round is the next day and the last on Friday 29 April. 

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