UAE’s GM Salem AR Saleh claims runner-up spot
Grandmaster (GM) Mohammed Al-Sayed of Qatar came close to losing his first game in the tournament, but Algerian GM Mohamed Haddouche misplayed the endgame to allow the Qatari to save the draw and formalise his claim of the 3rd Arab Elite Chess Championship – Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Cup with an unbeaten slate.
Already assured of winning the title regardless of the results in the final round, Al-Sayed missed a tactical shot in the middlegame that allowed Haddouche to wrest the initiative and eventually win a pawn on the 27th move. But the Algerian, handling the black side of an Old Indian Defence, failed to follow through accurately as Al-Sayed created enough counterplay to force Haddouche to return the pawn and steer the game into an equal rook endgame with opposite-coloured bishops on each side. The players agreed to a draw on the 59th move.
The third-seeded Al-Sayed won the tournament with 7.5 points on six wins and three draws, half a point ahead of second-seed GM Salem AR Saleh of the UAE and top-seed GM Bassem Amin of Egypt, who finished second and third respectively.
Saleh had an easier time ripping apart Jordanian International Master (IM) Sami Khader’s Dutch Defence, taking advantage of Khader’s lack of development and piece coordination to run over the Jordanian’s kingside defence and win in 34 moves.
Amin had to work harder against the Scotch Gambit of Bahrain’s FM Husain Ayyad. The Egyptian hung on to the gambit pawn until around the hallway point of the game when he allowed a series of exchanges that would have led to an equal position, with each side having a rook and opposite-coloured bishops. But Ayyad opted to maintain the tension, allowing Amin to hold on to the extra pawn in exchange for keeping his two bishops on the board. The Egyptian top-seed demonstrated a serious flaw in Ayyad’s plan as the extra pawn proved to be decisive in the 49-move win.
Saleh, winner of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2011, finished second by virtue of a superior tiebreak score, relegating Amin to third place.
IM Basheer Al Qudaimi defeated Candidate Master (CM) Ahmed Abuzied in the final round to secure fourth place with six points, while the UAE’s Saeed Ishaq completed the top five with 5.5 points following a win over Oman’s Ali Shamas Salim Issa.
In other results, Morocco’s IM Abdelaziz Onkoud defeated Abdelkadei Sharabaty of Palestine, FM Amir Zaibi Amir of Tunisia won over FM Ali A. Elmejbri of Libya and Iraq’s FM Ahmed Abdulsattar Abdulwahhab beat FM Hamoud Al Nhier of Saudi Arabia.
International Chess Federation (Fide) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov awarded the prizes to the winners during Wednesday night’s awarding ceremony at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. He was joined by Fide Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos and Fide CEO Jeffrey Borg.
Al-Sayed received the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Cup along with US$8,000. The rest of the top five finishers received US$ 5,000, US$3,500, US$2,000 and US$1,500 respectively.
Also present during the awarding ceremony were Sheikh Saud Al Mualla, Chairman of the Sharjah Chess and Culture Club, Saeed Al Muqbali, Chairman of the UAE Chess Federation, Ibrahim Al Bannai, President of the Arab Chess Federation, Mohammed al-Ansari, Director of Strategic Management of Dubai Sports Council and representatives of the different Arab countries.
Tournament director Mohammed Al-Husseini thanked the Arab Chess Federation and Fide for supporting the event. He also commended the tournament officials led by International Arbiter Mohammed Abdullah, the chief arbiter.
Ilyumzhinov, on the other hand, congratulated Al-Sayed for his victory and promised to continue to support the development of chess in the Arab region. He also lauded the Dubai Chess and Culture Club for successfully hosting the tournament.
The 3rd Arab Elite Chess Championship – Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Cup drew 16 participants from 15 countries: UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Iraq.