Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ruan Lufei Nearly Did It - With No Support from the Chinese Government

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review
By Bob Bauder
Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ruan Lufei, from official 2010 WWCC website
Lufei Ruan lost the woman's world chess championship Friday, but acquaintances in Pittsburgh say she gained international recognition for herself and the city with her remarkable climb to the tournament final.

"The whole chess world is stunned right now," said Alexander Shabalov, 47, a four-time U.S. chess champion from Squirrel Hill. "Basically, she jumped way over her head. She was pretty much a few moves away from becoming a world champion, which is every chess player's dream. I'm sure it's just a heartbreaker for her."

Ruan, 23, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, lost the title in a tie-breaker to chess prodigy Hou Yifan, 16. Both played for the Chinese team in the tournament held in Hatay, Turkey.

In an e-mail, Ruan said she was happy to have performed well but exhausted after playing for nearly a month with one day's rest.

"I think there are three reasons why she beat me," Ruan said. "Firstly, she is really a good player, and unlike me, she plays chess every day. Secondly, I played tie-break in every round, so I have played for 20 days with only one day rest. Finally, she has two coaches here, but I'm fighting alone. My coach is in China."

Kevin Mo, 15, a chess master from Franklin Park, said Ruan mainly competed against professional players. He found it remarkable that she beat all but one. Mo lost a game to Ruan last month and said he followed her every move in the tournament through the Internet.

"For her to balance studying and playing in the tournament, and for her to get this far is quite impressive," said the 10th-grader at North Allegheny High School. "It's good for chess in Pittsburgh. We now have a world championship contender here in Pittsburgh."

Indeed, Ruan's run at the Championship is an incredible accomplishment and worthy of the greatest recognition and admiration.  Need I point out the incredible irony that this Chinese player (and don't we all love to hate China these days?) did so by utilizing a combination of mental toughness, courage, and true grit that we Americans admire so much and tout as our particular national perogative?

She nearly did it! She didn't have a coach, she didn't have financial support from the Chinese government or Chinese chess establishment, she was the neglected "other" of the Chinese chess team, presumably passed over at 23 as "too old" to amount to anything and headed toward a business career in any event -- and SHE - NEARLY - DID - IT!

You go, girl!  Good for you!  I take my hat off to you.  I would love to shake your hand in the hope that some of your "magic dust" would perhaps rub off on me :)  I don't know what your plans are once you earn your degree, but I hope you will stay here and go to work for a quintessential American - the Oracle of Omaha (and I don't mean Oral Roberts).

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