Chess - The Scotsman 06/01/13

THERE was a bizarre twist to the end of the Gibraltar Masters with the news that one of China’s top women players found herself caught between the Rock and a hard place after she was denied a transit visa to enter the UK for her return home.

GM Ju Wenjun was stranded in Gibraltar at the end of the tournament, having travelled there on 19 January via London from Hong Kong on a British Airways flight. However, when she went to board her return flight to China via Heathrow on 1 February, she was denied entry onto the flight.

“I don’t have a UK transit visa and they let me board [in Hong Kong]. When I arrived in the UK, I told them I was going to play in Gibraltar at the Tradewise festival. I showed them my airline ticket [and official invitation] and they let me pass through,” said Ju.

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A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that the UK Border Agency was not responsible for visa checks made by airline carriers outside the country, and claim it therefore had nothing to do with them. British Airways has so far declined to comment on the situation. As of Tuesday, the world ranked No 15 in women’s chess was reportedly still on Gibraltar, though it’s hoped a solution will be worked out today.

This is the second chess-related UK Border Agency visa incident in as many months. In December, Magnus Carlsen’s Russian second for the London Chess Classic, Ian Nepomniachtchi was initially denied entry to the UK in his official capacity as an aide to the world No 1. He was eventually allowed in at the last minute following an appeal.

D Gieritz - Ju Wenjun

11th Gibraltar Masters, (1)

Modern Defence

1 Nf3 d6 2 d4 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 Nd7 5 0–0 e5 6 c4 Ne7 7 Nc3 0–0 8 h3 a6 9 e4 exd4 10 Nxd4 Ne5 11 b3 c5 12 Nde2 b5 13 f4 N5c6 14 Rb1 Nd4 15 Be3 Nxe2+ 16 Nxe2 Be6 17 Qd3 bxc4 18 bxc4 Nc6 19 Rfd1 Rc8 20 Kh2 Qa5 21 Rd2 Rfd8 22 Rc2 Nb4 23 Bd2 Nxd3 24 Bxa5 Rb8! 25 Rf1 Re8 26 f5 gxf5 27 exf5 Bxc4 28 f6 Rb2 29 Rxb2 Nxb2 30 fxg7 Rxe2 31 Rf5 Be6 32 Rh5 Nc4 0–1