Wei Yi, Tan Zhongyi Win Kings And Queens Tournament

Wei Yi, Tan Zhongyi Win Kings And Queens Tournament

Wei Yi and Tan Zhongyi emerged victorious at the first Kings and Queens Tournament held in Taizhou, Zhejiang, China from November 24th through the 30th.

The event consisted of two eight-player knockout tournaments with eight men and eight women competing in the Kings and Queens divisions respectively.

Despite the claim in the title of the event, this was not truly the first event. Prior events have been held in 1998 and 2009, and the organizing Taizhou Sports Federation intends to run the event biannually in the future. The event is intended to prepare the Chinese players for the FIDE World Cup events, which are also a knockout format.

Commensurate with the FIDE events, the knockout format consisted of a series of two-game matches. The first was played at standard time controls. If tied, the match proceeded to a two-game rapid match at 15 + 15 and then to a two-game blitz match at 5 + 3. If still tied, a single Armageddon game was played with White needing to win to advance.

Th venue in Taizhou. All photos courtesy of the official site.

The competitors in the Kings division were Ding Liren (2781), Wei Yi (2737), Yu Yangyi (2734), Wang Yue (2729), Bu Xiangzhi (2710), Ni Hua (2696), Zhao Jun (2623), and Lu Shanglei (2615). Notably absent were the Chinese numbers two and seven, Li Chao and Wang Hao.

Entering the event, much of the attention was devoted to Wei Yi. The prodigy was the top Chinese finisher at the last World Cup and dazzled the world with this brilliancy earlier this year.

To give the reader an idea of how rapidly he is rising, at age 16 Wei is one of only two players under 20 to have a rating of over 2700. The other, GM Richard Rapport, is three years older at 19.

Wei Yi always displays a masterful poker face at the board.

The surprise of the quarterfinals was the eighth seed, Lu Shanglei, upsetting top seed Ding Liren. Things seemed to be going well for Ding in the following game as he expanded on both the kingside and queenside with a superior pawn structure and bishop. However, after a slight misplaying of the position, Ding's extended h-pawn became a target and careful and precise play from Lu allowed him to gradually convert the position.

In the semifinals, the highlighted match must have been the showdown between Wei Yi and Yu Yangyi. This hard-fought match was reminiscent of the tremendous bout between Wei Yi and Ding Liren at the 2015 Baku World Cup. Much like in that event, Wei Yi seemed to be under pressure at some points, but his tenacity was rewarded as he saved difficult positions and gradually pressured Yu until a final slip came in the blitz match.

Yu Yangyi may well be overshadowed by Wei, but his accomplishments at the Olympiad and the Dubai Open also suggest many more triumphs in his future. Here's Yu's patient pressuring of Ni Hua with an ever-so-slight knight-vs-bishop advantage led to victory.

 
Yu Yangyi, the winner of the 2014 Qatar Masters.

The final showdown between Bu Xiangzhi and Wei was a convincing display by Wei who drew with ease on the black side before launching the following lovely attack with the white pieces.

 
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The finals in Taizhou.

In the Queen's division, women's world-number-one Hou Yifan was conspicuously absent, but the remaining event was very strong. The competitors were Ju Wenjun (2547), Zhao Xue (2524), Tan Zhongyi (2492), Shen Yang (2472), Ding Yixin (2435), She Tingjie (2431), Guo Qi (2427), and Zhu Jiner (2094).

The eighth seed, 13-year-old Zhu Jiner, certainly seemed the outsider on paper, but she acquitted herself well in her match with the top seed Ju Wenjun in their match. Zhu acquired a winning position with the black pieces in a dazzling game, but after cashing in too early, she didn't have quite enough of an advantage left to win the game.

Ju did not let her opportunity with the black pieces slip by as she executed a simple but nice kingside attack to win against her young opponent. The Chinese federation has done a tremendous job of identifying and supporting young talent in the game so perhaps we should expect to hear Zhu Jiner's name more in the future.

In her initial game, Tan Zhongyi launched a vicious attack against Lei Tingjie with 28. Rxd4!

Tan Zhongyi played aggressive and confident chess to claim victory.

Despite winning a piece for her outside passed pawn early in the game, Guo Qi had a difficult conversion task against Zhao Xue in front of her due to being possession of the bishop and wrong rook pawn. It took some quite patient maneuvering to bring home the victory.

Guo Qi also took the second game in her match against Zhao, but in the semifinals she was handed the following crushing 23-move defeat by Tan Zhongyi who also claimed the second game in fine positional fashion.

The finals match between Tan Zhongyi and Ju Wenjun was a blisteringly aggressive affair as the match went down to the Armageddon game with five of seven games being decisive. Even the following draw to start the match was ferocious:

The final-round Armageddon game was anti-climatic as Ju acquired a pleasant advantage in a must-win game with White, only to surrender the game in one shocking blitz blunder with 18. Bc3??, a move to which we can all sadly relate.

For their victories, Wei Yi took home 120,000 RMB ($18,750) and Tan Zhongyi collected 80,000 RMB ($12,500).

Edit: the headline of this report included a mistake which has been corrected.

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