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Busy week and day with a wedding (not my own) and meetings (GK in town; book finished!) but I'll be back with lots of updates. My inbox overfloweth with items on tourney cheats and the USCF special election, which looks to have been more like a special olympics election. At least the psychos who win FIDE elections are rich psychos... China collapsed in the final round of the Taiyuan tournament but still held on to beat the "world" team by a single point. The recent successes of the Chinese team should continue considering the average age of the team is around 21. But who will break out of the pack to put a Chinese player in the top 10? Karjakin won the Tomsk rapid event convincingly. Games seem scarce though Marky-mark grabbed most. I have a few more from one of the players and will keep lobbying for the rest. Weird... The Biel festival begins today but the big GM tournament doesn't start until Monday. Morozevich, Radjabov, and Carlsen are the top attractions.


The inconsistency of the 16 year old Karjakin continues. This time another brilliant result. It won't be that long before he and Carlsen are vying for a world championship match. I'm still going with the latter whom I see as the legitimate successor to all the big boys of the past.
Posted by: chesstraveler at July 22, 2006 16:34

Mig, any comments on the Credit-Suisse news that Garry, Anatoly, Viktor, and Judit are going to play rapid chess matches in August? Sounds fantastic. What's the scoop?
Posted by: RS at July 22, 2006 16:34

I suppose one day soon people will come to the realization about the Rising Dragons of the East. On a couple of threads here on DD, people have disregarded Chinas, but they are already a top chess power. Don't look at ratings... means little. Look at momentum.

There was even one person here on DD who denied that the Chinese women had been dominant in past years until I listed their accomplishments. Where has he been? The Chinese men have even more talent coming up. Wang Hao hit most of us by surprise, but Wang Yue has been known about for awhile.

Wang Lei who played for the women's team a few years mentioned she stopped playing because there was young talent rising. I didn't ask her who, but Hou Yifan maybe?

I don't believe either Karjakin or Carlsen will be the world beaters. It will be someone we haven't heard of yet. If I HAD to choose between the two, I'd go with Karjakin. Carlsen seems like his mind is on other things. Karjakin seems to be more focused on chess.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 22, 2006 20:57

I suspect China won't be taken seriously until they field a player in the top 10 -- someone who regularly plays in supertournaments.
Posted by: macuga at July 23, 2006 00:47

Ranking in top 10 means little in terms of overall progress of a nation. Momentum seems to be the key. There are many nations which can boast of a player or two in the upper echelon, yet their nation (as a whole) languishes. China (and India) both have the numbers AND the momentum.

I believe the women's dominance and the cadre of talent China consistently produces is enough to prove this point. Nevertheless, we WILL look up and see perhaps 4-5 Chinese in the top 20... or top 10... that is inevitable. The physics of mass and momentum is too much to ignore.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 23, 2006 08:30

I was talking about what it would take for China to get taken seriously, not about what "matters little" in the overall scheme of things. As long as China just fields a bunch of plucky players in the 2600's, they won't be considered a chess powerhouse. Regular supertournament participation is required.
Posted by: macuga at July 23, 2006 16:24

When a single guy starts using such turns of phrase as "a wedding (not my own)," you know he's in trouble....
Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago at July 23, 2006 17:27


China merely won the silver medal at the last Olympiad... they are also tied 6th-8th in the world (rating wise). What's not to take seriously? They are a powerhouse already.

Is Georgia a chess powerhouse at this moment? What about Azerbaijan? India? Germany?

Answer those questions and then look at this link

Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 23, 2006 21:22

Daaim, how many Chinese actually play chess? That's what matters, not how many they are in total. There doesn't seem to be a lot of tournaments over there.

As for looking at the women as an indication for what will happen on the men's side, international soccer shows that many countries have a strong women's team but a crappy men's team and vice versa. In most sports, there is simply far more competition on the men's side, and that is certainly the case in chess.
Posted by: zakki at July 23, 2006 21:23


How many people in China play international chess?? Well... I don't know, but I'm not merely talking of numbers though. I'm talking about recognizable talent out of that number. I went to a high school of 5000 students. Do you think out of that 5000 students we had chess talent? We did... and were a perenniel powerhouse at that level. We had 100 members in the chess club. Mass and momentum was the cause of this. As more Chinese migrate from Chinese chess to international chess (like Xie Jun), then we'll see the critical mass become even larger.

Also... I'm not correlating men-women performances or women-men performances, but there is a system that is producing the talent on both ends. There was an interesting book written by Liu Wenzhe about the system to produce strong chess players.

Question: Do you know how many tournaments Russia has? Armenia? the Ukraine? Is the number of tournaments a true indication of how much talent there is in a country? Chinese players travel all around the world competing and have had several high-profile tournaments and team matches in China. They recently had a massive simul of children.

There is definitely a large population of chess not covered by the popular media, so it is not surprising that China is not perceived as a chess power, but other countries (ranked lower) are.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 23, 2006 22:01

I agree with Daaim . China is definitely a fast growing chess power strongest possibly only after Armenia, Russia and Ukraine. Didn't they win the silver medal in both the Olympiad and the World Team championships?
Posted by: peach at July 23, 2006 22:37

Again, Mr. Shabazz, I'm talking about perception -- and not yours, but that of the "average chess player on the street". I'm not talking about "should be." I'm talking about "is."

China isn't considered a world power (although many people are aware of its impressive team performances) because its players lack visibility. They don't often play outside China, certainly not in high-profile invitationals, and almost never in high-powered supertournaments.

You've got to be able to associate a face--or a name--with a country, and Bu Xiangzhi and Ye Jiangchuan just don't fire up the imagination. You need to regularly play with Ivanchuk, Anand, Morozevich, and Topalov to have real credibility as a world-class player.

There's also a perception--whether justified or not--that China's top players are a result of state-sponsored coddling, and do not reflect a broader chess culture at the grassroots level, as some other posters have noted. Possibly that's because China's culture is basically impenetrable to the western world.
Posted by: macuga at July 23, 2006 22:57

Working theory: a Chinese player cracking the top 10, playing regularly in Dortmund and Wijk aan Zee, and giving occasional interviews, will do more for China's chess visibility and credibility than winning a few more olympic medals.
Posted by: macuga at July 23, 2006 23:01


I'm also talking about "what is." China IS a chess power. Their top ten players are 6th-8th in the world. China won the silver (men) and bronze (women) in the Olympiad, silver at the World Team Championship and have dominated women's chess in past two decades.

Do you subscribe to New in Chess? If so, then you would see that Chinese play in top tournaments. Although Ye Jianghuan hasn't competed much lately, Bu Xianghzhi (FIDE 2664) is #47 in the world and should fire some imagination. Are the standards for world-class playing the four GMs you've mentioned? That's so narrow. That would mean that there are only about 10-20 players in the world who fit that description. This is the very problem with chess... too much focus on a small cadre of players.

If Chinese players don't often play outside China and have few tournaments in China, how do they become GMs? You are showing a very jaundiced view of China and their chess activities. China is considered a chess power by people who follow chess closely and acknowledge their accomplishments (both individual and team). It doesn't matter if the media doesn't publicize this fact. By the way, I'm speaking of both men AND women, so if you don't believe the Chinese haven't dominated women's chess in the past two decades then I don't know what to tell you.

Lastly, who cares how China develops their players? The Soviet Union developed their players through the state apparatus for almost a century. I'm not seeing how your points are valid here. China lacking visibility doesn't mean they are not a chess power. Of course, if the general media covered more than just the world's top 10-15 players and Europe, people will know about other regions that are rich in talent.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 24, 2006 00:07

"Daaim, how many Chinese actually play chess?"

A tiny number. The casual games to play are Chinese chess and mahjong, I believe. Nor are there any finanacial payoffs that I know of, other than the tiny amounts such as in the Taiyuan tournament.
Posted by: SH at July 24, 2006 01:38

-- not to change the subject but (any topic in the original post is fair game, no?), Mig, when is the currently scheduled release date for THE ART OF ATTACK (presumably the book that you and K finished)? The last I heard was that it was coming out any time between Fall, 2006 and Spring, 2007. Can we narrow this down? And how much of this book was ghostwritten by you and how much copyediting did you do? (OK -- I don't expect you to answer these last two questions, but I had to ask anyway.)

Karpov, a FIDE politician, and a French businessman are co-authors on a business book coming out in September. Coincidence?

Posted by: Howard Goldowsky at July 24, 2006 07:50


If a tiny number actually play international chess in China then that makes the story even more sensational.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 24, 2006 08:47


It seems chess-in-schools enjoyed some limited institutional backing in the late 1990s in China, exposing an above-baseline number of youth to the game. The current crop of decent juniors reflects the pick-up, but the pipeline's back to a trickle. The FIDE rating list for China shows this effect: many players with birth years in the late-1980s earned FIDE ratings by 2000, but 1) they stopped playing, and 2) one can detect a sharp fall-off in representation by the post-1990-birth-year population.
Posted by: SH at July 24, 2006 11:36

I should add that means: Beyond Bu (1985), Zhou (1986)- board six at the recent Olympiad, Wang (1987), Wang (1990), nothing's on the horizon for the men (i.e., not counting the girl born in 1994). So, unless one of those four surprise strongly on the upside, don't expect a top-ten player from China by 2010.
Posted by: SH at July 24, 2006 11:50


Interesting. I'm glad you're not arguing that China is not a chess power. (smile)

However, in your 2nd post you have listed players who have already met success. You're arguing that neither mass nor momentum exists (or is fading) which seems hard to believe in a country with such an upswing. China is organizing more tournaments, inviting more strong players and playing abroad more now than ever.

The point is there are players that we don't know of yet just as most of us didn't know of Wang Hao or Hou Yifan over a year ago. Sheer mass and momentum of Chinese players will produce some remarkable talent (as in India). Not to mention that China also has a structured and active system to help develop the talent. We cannot assume that players are not coming through the pipeline by looking at the birthdates of active players on the FIDE roster.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 24, 2006 13:57

Mr Shabazz.

I'm talking about overall perception. Not yours.

I don't see why this is difficult to grasp.
Posted by: macuga at July 24, 2006 22:10


It's difficult because you've changed the argument from reality to perception.

The argument was whether China is a rising chess power or not and you tried to debunk this by saying that China has to have someone in the top ten and play in supertournaments... and that they have "plucky" 2600s. This is not a solid argument.

Now on perception...

Those that do follow chess news will read little about China. The perception (about China) is based on misinformation or lack of information. If you asked the average chess player to name the three medallists at the 2006 Olympiad, could they do it on the spot? Their perception may lead them to say Russia (gold) and a permutation of Georgia, the Ukraine, Armenia for the other two. Same for the women. However, that is only a perception. A good question would be... why do people perceive this way?

(Note: During the Olympiad, it was amazing how few people on this blog realized that the Chinese women had won four Olympiad gold medals in a row and had three World Champions in a decade.)

Certainly people (that you mention) may not perceive China as not being a chess power, but that does not make it any less of a fact. Unless people accept the reality, then perceptions will always be what they rely on. This is why there are so many wonderful stories being missed in chess.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at July 25, 2006 07:56

The comments on the thread are all about chessplaying, a more congenial subject than USCF (or FIDE) politics, but as the number one finisher in the USCF special election I must point out that I'm neither rich nor poor and have never before been called (even obliquely) a psycho.
Posted by: Randy Hough at July 25, 2006 19:43


There is always a first time.)
Posted by: peach at July 25, 2006 20:36

" [...] as the number one finisher in the USCF special election I must point out that [I] [...] have never before been called (even obliquely) a psycho."

All in the fulness of time.


Oh, and congratulations!
Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago at July 25, 2006 23:05

hmm, peach swung at that hanging curve before me
Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago at July 25, 2006 23:06

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 22, 2006 7:23 AM.

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