The chess played throughout most of the world wasn.t common in China until late 20th century, but for a decade or two the most promising players have moved and taken permanent residence in Beijing for extensive chess training when not playing in tournaments. This has resulted in several women world champions, and both the men and women teams are among the favourites in the biannual Chess Olympiad.
Ni Hua is one of the four best Chinese players and is currently ranked no 60 in the world.
In our game today I chose a somewhat unusual variation in the Sicilian opening. It is probably objectively playable but quite risky. I had overlooked a strong queen move he made in the opening, and spent nearly an hour on the first 10 moves. Fortunately I found a way to consolidate my position, and close to the first time control (move 40) he started to make some inaccuracies. With his last two moves before the time control his position went from difficult to lost, and he resigned a few moves later.
A tough game, and three important points today.
Kramnik drew with Howell, Adams drew with Short, while McShane beat Nakamura.
After 5 rounds I.m in the lead with 11 points followed by Kramnik at 8 and McShane at 7. We are also the only players having won any game thus far.
In the last two rounds I.m facing the two top British players Adams and Short.
Monday I play white against Michel Adams against whom I scored well in the past.
Magnus Carlsen, London, December 13th 2009.