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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Chess Masters in Guangzhou
 Max Chia-hsin Lu
  July 2013
 I had the honor of visiting Guangzhou, China over the summer. There I met two of my Chinese chess friends. One of them was Grandmaster Li Shilong and his coach Huang Min Ju. We went out to dinner and had a nice conversation about chess.
I first met Shilong at the Thailand Open a few years ago. He was among the first Grandmasters that I met in my chess career and he taught me some basic concepts in openings. Shilong is impressive not only for his chess ability, but also because he has overcome significant adversity. He started having serious back pain from Ankylosing Spondylitis before pursuing his GM norms and could not sit down in a place for extended periods of time without 
being in severe pain. However, Shilong did not despair, and continued his chess career with Mr. Huang’s encouragement. Although it has been a long and difficult journey to become a Grandmaster, Shilong is humble and says that without Mr. Huang, he would never be as accomplished as he is today.
In the meeting, I thought that if he shared some thoughts of how he considers moves, it would really help me a lot. One technique that he taught me is listing the moves that you have available to you and deciding which one is the best one. I believe that most people do this when they are playing chess, however I didn’t realize that chess could be a multiple choice problem as well. Using the process of elimination, we can quickly eliminate choices that are illogical, or simply bad, for our position. After sorting through those moves, we can carefully consider the important moves that are left over. 
Another technique that Shilong talked to me about was necessary moves. For example, if you are participating in a Queen exchange, the only reasonable move would be to recapture the Queen, unless there is a mating combination or an in-between move. Instead of thinking about the next forty moves after you take the Queen, you can save an invaluable resource: time. By taking the Queen and then thinking, you are allowed to use some of his time to consider some moves that might be useful to you.
White to move
Imagine that you were playing White in the position above. Would you like to pursue a win, or settle for a draw? That is the first question that most players think of if presented with this position. Imagine also that you are under time pressure. In the position above, there are 7 squares where White’s King can move. If there are so many possibilities that you have to calculate, it is easy to be distracted. In fact, in this position, there is only one move that 
guarantees a victory and the other six can only hold a draw.
39...Ne2+ 40. Kh2!
This move simply wins because the Knight has no hope to catch up to the e6 pawn there are no checks or forks avaliable to take the pawn.
If White plays, 40. Kf3? this move simply loses the pawn 40...Nd4+ 41. Ke4 Nxe6
40. Kf2? also draws because of an unexpected Knight check! 40...Nc3 41. e7 Ne4+ 42. Ke3 Nf6.
40. Kg4? Nc3 41. e7 Ne4 42. e8(Q) Nf6+ knight fork simply wins the Queen making the game drawn after 43. Kf5 Nxe8.
40. Kh3? another Knight fork simply picks off the pawn 40...Nf4+ 41 .Kg4 Nxe6.
40. Kh4? another Knight fork simply picks off the pawn 40...Nf4 41. e7 Ng6+ 42. Kg5 Nxe7.
40. Kg2? another Knight fork simply picks off the pawn 40...Nf4+ 41.Kf3 Nxe6.
This example clearly shows the importance of calculating every single possible variation. Shilong said that there are 3 main kinds of calculation. One is similar to a stick; it is straightforward up until the very end where it splits. Another is more like a branch; it might have 3 or 4 variations split in the middle. The third and the most difficult is the forest, which is the most complicated having each branch split off in to different branches that all need calculation in depth. He recommended that players first start the position by identifying what kind of position it is and purposing candidate moves. After the initial process of identifying the candidate moves, we can evaluate each in depth and eventually utilize one to our advantage.Another skill that Shilong taught me was about right and wrong moves. He says that there are several ways to approach a position. If you consider a move the right move in this position, you should start out by presenting the best moves for the opponent and seeing if it works. If you consider a move the wrong move, try simple moves in the opponent's position and then try hard moves. This way, you 
will not have to calculate as much and can approach the same results. A wrong move will be disproved, and the right move may be chosen if there are no complexities involving it.
During our dinner trip, we were able to have a cultural exchange among the chess players and discuss the similarities and differences in chess in our countries. In the United States and Taiwan alike, most chess players are not professionals. It is part of our recreation and a hobby that interests us. However, in China, chess players take the game very seriously from an early age. Ever since the early age of 12, Shilong entered the Guangzhou Chess School, which was a life changing experience for him. His coach, Mr. Huang, started teaching him the basics of chess and he was immediately hooked. “I recall Shilong practicing chess problems while the other kids were 
merely playing in the playground. His determination and stubbornness has enabled him to achieve extraordinary feats.” Shilong still respects his teacher and they have been, and will be, lifelong friends. Shilong serves as an example among the brothers and sisters of the Guangzhou Chess School and is thinking of becoming a coach to share his experiences sometime soon in his life.
I felt like Shilong was a great example for me because not only was he one of the best chess players I have met so far, he was also very good at overcoming the many difficulties that faced him. He taught me about a lot of thinking in chess that I was rarely exposed to and it was a great learning experience. Seeing him and his coach was one of the most interesting encounters in my chess career so far.