Grandmasters concede five draws in Markham amid festival atmosphere

GM Lu Qin plays 18 opponents before a large audience at New Kennedy Square.

GM Lu Qin plays 18 opponents before a large audience at New Kennedy Square.

Two of China’s greatest grandmasters wowed a large, enthusiastic crowd at New Kennedy Square on Sunday in what was likely the GTA’s largest Xiangqi event ever.

Although none of Toronto’s players succeeded in felling a GM during the World Champions Challenge Exhibition Games, they did come away with five draws.

Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism and Culture

Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism and Culture

GM Xu TianHong drew with 2010 Toronto champion, Lin ShiXiong and 2009 Toronto champion, Li YaChao, while defeating 2011 Toronto champion Wang WeiQiang and experienced non-Asian player, Bill Brydon.

GM Lu Qin drew with Fung Ming, Wang Yixiang and Li Zhilian, while defeating 15 other strong local players.

The games played by GM Xu as well as the three draws conceded by GM Lu can be viewed at WXF.org in both Chinese and English.

The dignitaries in attendance at the World Champions Challenge included Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism and Culture, and Markham Regional Councilors Alan Ho and Gordon Landon. Shi Xiaoguang, a consul from the Chinese Consulate-General in Toronto, attended a dinner held in honour of the GMs at the Mong Kok Chinese Restaurant.

In addition to the three Toronto champions on stage, on hand to watch and help out were past Toronto champions Stephen Fung, Huang YuYing, Paul Ng, Peter Sung and Zhang YaoGuang.

Xu TianHong is presented with a certificate of welcome from  Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti by Councillors Alan Ho and Gordon Landon.

Xu TianHong is presented with a certificate of welcome from Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti by Councillors Alan Ho and Gordon Landon.

The two former world champions were gracious guests and diplomats, mixing with the audience, praising the players who drew with them, and posing for many pictures. GM Xu explained his games for the audience after his exhibition, and at dinner unveiled a large message of greeting from his native Jiangsu that featured the Chinese character for “Dragon” – see the gallery below.

After their Toronto visit GMs Lu and Xu spent two days in Montreal. In April, three Chinese grandmasters visited Vancouver, Richmond (site of the North American championships), Calgary, and Edmonton.

The TXA and Scarborough chess club are very grateful to the event’s sponsors:

The World Champions Challenge Exhibition Games event was presented by the TXA and the Scarborough Seniors club. It was organized by TXA president Elton Yuen in partnership with Raymond and Amy Lam. The TXA thanks Raymond and Amy for their valuable assistance and enthusiastic participation.

Chinese news coverage of the event can be read at:

Here is a gallery of pictures taken by Bill Brydon, Stephen Fung, Huang YuYing and other TXA members. You can click on any image for a larger version, use the small arrows (>>) at the bottom of each enlarged image to scroll through the gallery, and click on any enlarged image to close the gallery.

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