Person of day - 10 DECEMBER 2023
Bu Xiangzhi was born on 10th December in Qingdao - a Chinese port city on the banks of the Yellow River. His father was a strong player of Eastern chess, but after Xie Jun’s victory over Maia Chiburdanizdze he decided that he wants to raise a star of European chess. At the age of 6, Bu learned the rules and notations.
The boy’s father initiated a boisterous program aimed at popularising chess. As a result, a training class was opened in the city, which became filled with talented children. Among them was the son of the editor of Quingdao’s central newspaper; the young talent’s father organised the translation of multiple global chess bestsellers into Chinese. Bu Xiangzhi’s first book was Bobby Fischer’s “60 Memorable Games”. The young chess player easily won in the Chinese junior championship and went on to achieve success in the international arena: he won 3rd place in the U12s world championship and 1st place in the U14s world championship. No young Chinese player achieved similar success and Bu Xiangzhi continued his career with the aura of the main hope of the Middle Kingdom.
The Chinese player attended the “First Saturday” round-table tournament series in Hungary, where he won the title of master and then grandmaster in 2000. At that time, Bu was the youngest grandmaster in history, but his record was beaten two years later by Sergey Karjakin. In his homeland, his success brought on a euphoria- Bu Xiangzhi and his trainer Ji Yunqi signed a contract with the largest mineral water producer in China, who paid for the young man’s travels generously.
In 2000, the Chinese grandmaster came second in an Internet-tournament for young stars, which was organised by Garry Kasparov. The tournament was won by Teimour Radjabov, but soon the two prize-winners battled in a rapid-match of 8 rounds- Bu won 6,5:1,5! A year later, the representative of the Middle Kingdom became the bronze medallist for the U20s world championship and he was included in the Olympic team for the Tournament of Nations in Bled.
He was the winner of zonal Chinese tournaments in 2004 and 2007, the champion of China in 2004, a competitor in FIDE’s knockout world championship, the world champion among students in 2006 and the winner of the World Cup in blindfolded chess in 2007, where he beat Karjakin, Carlsen, Polgar, Topalov and Harikrishna! In 2008, Bu Xiangzhi split 1st place in Gibraltar and played in super-tournaments in Sofia and Bilbao. He was the winner of the World Mind Sports Games in rapid chess in 2008.
At the end of 2008, Bu’s rating was equivalent to 2714 Elo points and the Chinese player occupied a high place in the world rankings table. However, behind Bu there arose a new generation of strong Chinese players, who soon gave battle to the recognised leader. In Chinese championships, Bu was challenged by Wang Hao, Wang Yue and later Ding Liren. The hero of the 2006 Olympiad, thanks to whom the Chinese won the silver medal, gradually swapped first table for second, then for third and in the Olympiad on Tromso he was not included in the squad at all.
Nonetheless, during the last team world championship, the former wunderkind once again made a substantial contribution to the victory of the Chinese team. Bu Xiangzhi went through the tournament without a single defeat, winning important matches against Armenia and Ukraine (against Movsesian and Eljanov) and showed that it was too early to discount him. In a recent interview, the grandmaster said that his former interest in chess was resurrected by his marriage to grandmaster Huang Qian- training with an ambitious wife, he returned his rating to above 2700 and is full of determination to re-enter the chess elite.