Person of day   -  2 JUNE 2024



Wei Yi was born on the 2nd of June 1999 in the Jiangsu province, on the banks of the Yellow Sea. One of the most famous wunderkinds in chess history drew against grandmaster Zhou Weiqi in the Chinese team championship when he was just 8. Soon after, Wei won the world championship for schools, the Asian championship and the U12s world championship. 

Success in adult chess came soon after: in 2012, the young man became a grandmaster at the U20 World Championship, after defeating Richard Rapport and drawing against Alexander Ipatov. In 2013, Wei Yi completed the final grandmaster norm when he won against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in Iceland and came sixth overall. The Chinese chess player became the fourth youngest grandmaster in history, after Karjakin, Negi and Carlsen. 

Wei Yi was nominated by the FIDE President to play at the 2013 World Cup, where he dramatically knocked out Ian Nepomniatchi and Alexei Shirov. As a result, he went past the 2600 mark, becoming the youngest player in history to do so. 

His successes continued; Wei Yi won a strong rapid chess tournament in Spain, where he defeated Francisco Vallejo in the final, and made his debut for the Chinese team at the Olympiad in Tromso. The Chinese team won its first gold medals and its substitute took 4 points out of 5. At the end of 2014, Wei Yi came second at the U20 World Championship, behind his countryman Lu Shanglei.

The talented youngster continued his advance. He won the B tournament in Wijk aan Zee, came third in Gibraltar, surpassed the rating of 2700, thus achieving a new world record. In the national team, he won another World Championship, with 7 points out of 9 and an individual gold medal on his board. Soon after, the hero of Jiangsu became the youngest Chinese champion in history.

At the 2015 World Cup, Wei Yi went on to knock out Salem Saleh, Yuri Vovk, Alexander Areschenko and Ding Liren, before losing to Peter Svidler in the quarterfinals. Later on, he won the Chinese Cup and the Chinese national championship. At the Tata Steel super tournament, the Chinese grandmaster won 6.5 points out of 13 when playing against the world’s strongest players. 

Multiple experts consider Wei Yi to be a future rival for Magnus Carlsen.

“I am certain that to create a miracle like his victory over Bruzon, simple luck is insufficient- one need the help of higher powers. If that is the case, it is simply a reminder that a new star has risen from the East.

…Meanwhile, let’s talk about Wei Yi’s preferred openings. Even if my forecast of his eventual triumph is incorrect, it is useful to analyse his style of play.

The Grunfeld Defence and the Najdorf Sicilian, first move e2-e4 was Kasparov’s standard opening at the end of the 1980s. Today, that move is often used by Wei Yi. But he made this choice for different reasons. Garry relied on his intense preparation and aimed to play a “move for a move” game. In the last quarter of a century, the nature of several systems and their statuses underwent serious changes. Upon close inspection, it emerged that the Grunfeld Defence today is not a guarantee for the start of a major confrontation and the move e2-e4 is not an opening gambit in a large battle. It seems only the Najdorf Variation has retained its status of a sharp, uncompromising debut. 

The distinctive feature of Wei Yi’s opening repertoire is its combinatory approach. When he plays with Black, he employs highly technical combinations. Here, we can see the effect of computer preparation; he moves there, I move here. With White, Wei Yi often plays the game as a scheme, without clear sequences of moves.” (A. Kuzmin)