Cuban Grandmaster tops Dubai’s March blitz chess event

Former world junior champ Walter Arencibia clinches title with a round to spare

Cuban Grandmaster (GM) Walter Arencibia ruled the March edition of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club Blitz Chess Tournament. Arencibia, the 1986 World Junior Chess Champion, scored 9.5 points from 11 games to claim the championship cup against a field of more than 90 players from 16 countries.

Mohammad Husseiny, the club’s Managing Director, and Yahya Mohammed Saleh, Planning and Development Director, awarded the prizes to the top five players of the tournament.

Najib Saleh, head of the club’s Technical Committee, said organising one-day events such as blitz tournaments is one way of encouraging more chess enthusiasts to take part in the club’s activities. He explained that the event required a lot of stamina from the players as each had to compete in 11 gruelling matches at the club’s Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum hall.

Arencibia, currently in the UAE on a chess coaching job, clinched the top prize with a round to spare after coasting to nine straight wins followed by a draw in the tenth round with eventual runner-up Talal Hilwani, the third-seed from Syria. Spanish GM Viktor Moskalenko inflicted Arencibia’s only loss in the final round, but the result was inconsequential in the final five rankings.

Half a point behind the champion was Hilwani, who had an anticlimactic final-round win over Jobannie C. Tabada after the Filipino 11th seed failed to notice that some of his pieces were not in the right squares when the game started. Taking advantage of the situation, the white-wielding Hilwani quickly launched an attack against the awkwardly placed black king, forcing resignation shortly thereafter.

Bulgarian International Master Iva Videnova, one of the coaches of the club’s ladies team, finished third with 8.5 points after a win over the Philippines’ Armel Abucejo. Tabada and Fide Master Othman Moussa rounded out the top five finishers with eight points apiece.

Moskalenko along with Russia’s Sergey Ermachkov and Roman Zemtsov, and Mohammed Tarig Elther of Sudan also had eight points, but had inferior tiebreak scores.

Yahya Mohammed Saleh said the tournament produced exciting matches that entertained the spectators. He said many chess enthusiasts love to watch blitz tournaments because of the fast-paced action, with each player only allotted three minutes to complete a game plus a two-second increment for each move.

International Arbiter Saeed Yousuf, who was recently awarded by His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minster of the UAE, for his contributions to the development of chess in the UAE, served as the tournament director with Jordanian International Arbiter Walid Abu Obeidh as chief arbiter.