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Name: Felix Tan
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November 30, 2005

Hubei won its first team championship

China's Xiangqi A Division Leaque 2005 concluded on 30 November with all the 12 teams met in Shanghai for the final round. After nearly 4 hours of keen contest, Hubei emerged as champion for the first time with 11 win, 9 draw and 2 loss.

At the completion of the previous round, the two leading teams were Hubei and Guangdong. They tied with a match point of 29 but Hubei had a slight edge with one extra game point. Shanghai was behind them with a match point of 25. In this round, Hubei played Jiangsu, while Gungdong met Beijing. Naturally, all eyes were focused on these two matches.

The tension was at its height after Hubei and Jiangsu had three boards drawn and, over the other battle field, Guangdong's Lv Qin and Xu Yin Chuan each claimed a rather easy victory from their opponents Zhang Qiang and Jin Yuyan. Guangdong just needed a draw from the remaining two boards to beat Beijing, whereas the game between GM Liu Dahua and GM Xu Tianhong was still unclear and if that also ended in a draw...history would repeat itself.

In 1958, GM Li Yiting was the first man from Hubei to win the National Individual Champion. Twenty two years later, Liu Dahua won the title for two successive years to end the reign of Hu Ronghua. But, Hubei has yet to ascend the throne in national team competitions. Last year, their team almost made it. The folks in Hubei are all yearning for their first team victory. Hubei has been neck to neck with Guangdong in the previous few rounds. No adequate words could describe the pressure on the players and the anxiety of their supporters at this critical moment.

The next situation report came as a comforter -- that Guangdong's Chen Fujie lost to Beijing's external player Zhang Shenhong. Before long, GM Liu forced GM Xu to resign after a tough 4-hour tussle. Thus, Hubei had bagged the champion trophy even if Guangdong won the remaining board because of their advantage on game points. Unexpectedly, Guangdong scored nothing from the remaining game Li Hongjia vs Jiang Chuan, and that put Hubei 1 match point ahead of them eventually.

Below is the final ranking of the 12 teams (figures in brackets denote match points and game points):

1 Hubei (31, 50.5)
2 Guangdong (30, 49.0)
3 Shanghai (27, 48.0)
4 Beijing (24, 46.5 )
5 Shenyang (24, 43.5)
6 Heilongjiang (23, 47.0)
7 Hebei (21, 45.5)
8 Kailuan Coal (20, 43.0)
9 Jiangsu (20, 42.5)
10 Zhejiang (19, 40.0)
11 Sichuan (14, 37.5)
12 Hunan (11, 35.0)

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