Bu Xiangzhi: One Of The Youngest Chess Grandmaster From China

3 min read

Bu Xiangzhi is a Chinese chess prodigy. In 1999, he became the youngest chess grandmaster from China at 13 years, 10 months, and 13 days. In April 2008, Bu became the second Chinese player to pass the 2700 Elo rating line, after Wang Yue.
A Chinese champion in 2004, Bu played at the 2015 World Team Chess Championship and at the 2018 Chess Olympiad and won a gold medal.

Early years

The chess prodigy got serious about chess when Xie Jun won women’s world champion.

Born on December 10, 1985, in Qingdao, Bu was first introduced to chess by an elder cousin at six. When his compatriot Xie Jun’s women’s world championship victory in 1991, the interest in playing chess bloomed in Bu. At nine, he became serious about pursuing a chess career started training from then on. He also wrote a chess book at that time. He published a translation of the famous My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer, the world champion that Bu admired. By 1993, he was the winner of the Qingdao Junior Chess Championship.
In 1997, he became the children’s champion of the National S.T. Lee Cup. At 12, he captured the titles of national pupil champion and under-14 world champion. Two years later, in 1999, he finished seventh in the prestigious Tan Chin Nam Grandmaster Invitational Tournament.

Youngest grandmaster in history

After getting a sponsorship contract with a mineral water producer Qingdao, in 1999, Bu with his coach Ji Yunqi traveled to Europe to participate in international chess tournaments. During autumn 1999, he achieved within two months the required three norms for the title of Grandmaster (GM), with match wins at Pak’s GM tournament, at Kluger Memorial – First Saturday tournament in Budapest, and coming joint first in the Qingdao Daily Cup. At the age of 13 years, 10 months, and 13 days old when Bu Xiangzhi scored the final norm and became the youngest person to achieve that title. Soon, Sergey Karjakin in July 2002 snatched the running status of the world’s youngest grandmaster from Bu. His victory trail continued with the German Open win in 1999.


Bu won in his first match in the International Neckar Open in Deizisau in Germany in 2000. Bu also defeated the Azerbaijani talent Teimour Radjabov in the Future World Champions Match competition in New York. In May 2003, Bu played in the United States Chess Federation-rated tournament at the New York Open. Although all remarkable skills to win the match, he lost in the first round to American life master Shearwood McClelland III.
His wins continued in consecutive years. In December 2003, Bu emerged as the winner of the 10th Aceimar International Open in Mondariz, held in December 2003.
Bu also became National Chess Champion of China in Lanzhou in 2004.
Bu Xiangzhi tasted victory in the 9th World University Chess Championship in Lagos, Nigeria, on tiebreak over Ni Hua in 2006.
In July 2007, Bu snatched the winning title of the Canadian Open Chess Championship. The same year he won the Blindfold Chess World Cup in Bilbao, defeating a string of solid Grandmasters like Veselin Topalov, Magnus Carlsen, Pendyala Harikrishna, Judit Polgár, and Sergey Karjakin in the process.


Bu started the year 2008 with the 6th Gibtelecom Chess Festival in Gibraltar; He came joint first but lost on the two-game blitz playoff tiebreak to Hikaru Nakamura. Bu also played at the Russian Team Championships in Dagomys, Sochi for the team Shatar-Metropole in 2008, where he achieved a performance rating of 2771. In his super-tournament debut in Sofia, Bulgaria, he came fifth out of six players at the Grand Slam M-Tel Masters tournament in 2008.
He won at the Inventi Grandmaster Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, and also gained a 2748 performance rating.
In September 2008, he played at the 5th Russia v China Match in Ningbo. He secured a performance rating of 2707 for the men’s team.
Bu competed at the men’s rapid individual tournament of the World Mind Sports Games in October 2008 and won.
At the Nanjing Pearl Spring chess tournament held in December 2008, he came third out of six.


Now the chess prodigy plays for the Shandong chess club in the China Chess League.

He scored the 2723 rating performance in Moscow Open in January.
Bu Xiangzhi, at the 2010 Aeroflot Open, finished at 10th place out of 80 players with a 2700 performance. Following this tournament, he secured second place in the Preliminaries of the 2010 World Blitz Championship Preliminaries. The result qualified Bu for the 2010 World Blitz Championship to be held in Moscow.
Bu participated in the Chinese Chess Championship. Bu needed a final-round victory to protect his Chinese chess champion title. However, he drew his last game, allowing Wang Hao and Zhou Jianchao. Wang won the tournament.
In the 1st Danzhou Tournament in China, Bu Xiangzhi led the tournament after defeating Zhou Jianchao. Bu won the game on tiebreak with a performance rating of 2740.
Bu was part of the 7th annual China versus Russia match, held in China. The Chinese team consisted of Wang Hao, Wang Yue, Zhou Jianchao, Ni Hua, and Bu led the Chinese team to victory with a performance rating of 2928.


In June 2012, Bu defeated Ni Hua in the 3rd Hainan Danzhou GM tournament, and this victory secured his spot in the Chinese team for the Istanbul Chess Olympiad. He won the World University Chess Championship for the second time, held in Guimarães, Portugal in August 2012.
In July 2014, he first tied for with Ding Liren in the 5th Hainan Danzhou tournament and then won the Politiken Cup in Denmarkld. Bu also defeated the world champion Magnus Carlsen in the FIDE World Cup 2017 and eliminated him from the tournament.

National team

Bu Xiangzhi was always a part of the Chinese national team since 2001. With the World Team Chess Championship and the Turin Chess Olympiad, he achieved on the top board excellent results and won individual and team silvers in each event. In Turin, the Chinese team finished in second. He played against top Grandmasters such as Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Levon Aronian.
He won silver at the December 2006 Asian Games in Doha with his team. His team won gold at the 2008 15th Asian Team Chess Championship in Visakhapatnam.
The Chinese team also won the gold medal in the World Team Chess Championship in 2015. His team won the 43rd Chess Olympiad in 2018; in this event, Bu also won the individual bronze medal on board four.

Present Life

Bu Xiangzhi plays for the Shandong chess club in the China Chess League (CCL). He is married to Huang Qian, also a chess player.

Also read: Michelle Wie: From Qualifying USGA at the age of 10 to being in Top 10

Get to Know about the Latest Child Prodigies!

Subscribe to our Newsletter