A match between Iceland and China will be held over the weekend in the headquarters of Arion Bank in Iceland. The event is a nice warmup for the Reykjavik Open but both teams are meeting the event with great anticipation. The Chinese team has a rating advantage across the board but the homecourt advantage could prove to be a secret weapon for the home team.
The match is played over six boards, all play all double round. Overall we will have 72 games and the time control is G/20.
Yesterday Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of Iceland, invited the particpants to his residence in Bessastadir in honor of the Chinese guests. In the speech of the Chinese embassador it was observed that Iceland and China have played a match seven times before, most often in Olympiads with Iceland scoring five victories and with two draws.
This time however the Chinese team must be considered the favourites. Chinese chess has made great strides in the last decade, with several conquests.
Their youngest team members is 13 year old Wei Yi who is the youngest International master in the world and has already achieved two Grandmasters norms. The “veteran” of the team is 26 year old Bu Xiangzhi who became Grandmaster at the age of 13 and is now among the world’s elite. Eyes will also be on the young and talented 19 year old Yu Yangyi who became Grandmaster at 15. He is now the 3rd highest rated Chinese player and a great talent.
The Chess queens Huang Qian (born in 1986) and Tan Zhongyi (1991) are both WGM’s and have won several individual prizes and have had team successes with the Chinese national team. The 6th competitor in the Chinese team is the 14 year old Wang Yiye, on of the most promising Chinese talents.
The Icelandic team, although outrated is fielding a veteran team. Four Grandmasters are showing up along with young IM’s and promising youngsters. It’s a great pleasure to have Icelands first Grandmaster ever, Fridrik Olafsson playing in the event. Olafsson is 78 years old and became a GM in 1958! He has great victores on his resume again the likes of Fischer, Tal, Karpov etc.
Grandmasters Helgi Olafsson, Stefan Kristjansson and the current Icleandic champion Throstur Thorhallsson are all playing. Rounding out the team are IM Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson, WGM Lenka Ptacnikva, IM Jon Vikor Gunnarsson and IM Gudmundur Kjartansson. Along with them several youngsters will get the opportunity to compete against the strong Chinese opposition.
The match is held in conjunction with the 60 year anniversary of the Chinese-Icelandic Culture Association who is organising the event along with the Icelandic Chess Federation. The event is also sponsered by Arion Bank, CCP, Promens Icelandic and Elkem Iceland.