These days we think of China as a huge superpower that is set to dominate the world both economically and in sport.  China hosted the Olympics in 2008 and finished second in the medal tally, and in chess too they are an emerging super-power with very strong female players and up-an-coming grandmasters.

Back in the 1970’s it was vastly different.  No-one had ever heard of a Chinese chess player and we were surprised in 1977 when then sent their first International Chess Team overseas to compete in the Asian Teams Championship in Auckland.  I was playing top board for Australia and was wary of the Chinese, so I played a quick draw with their board one then, despite the language barrier, we ventured outside to play frisbees!

At the Chess Olympiad the following year in 1978 the veteran Dutch Grandmaster Jan Donner was not so circumspect when he expressed the view that “no Western Grandmaster could ever lose to a Chinese player.”   It was interesting therefore when the following day Holland faced China in the Men’s Olympiad and Donner, playing black, reached the following position with his opponent to move.

Was Donner right?   How did the game finish?

[fen caption=”White to play”]r2qnr2/pp3kbQ/2npb1p1/2pN1pP1/4P3/8/PPP1BP2/R1B1K1NR w – – 0 1[/fen]

ANSWER:

Liu Wen polished off his astonished opponent with 1.Qxg6+!! Kxg6 2.Bh5+ Kh7 3.Bf7+ Bh6 4.g6+! Kg7 5.Bxh6+ Kh8 6.Bxf8+ Qh4 7.Rxh4#

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