Allegiance to Sheikh Zayed Chess Tournament kicks off with 150 players

Asian champion Salem A.R. Saleh, the UAE’s top-ranked international chess grandmaster (GM), won both his games to lead the early pacesetters of the Allegiance to Sheikh Zayed Chess Tournament on Tuesday night at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Saleh, whose stratospheric 2712 International Chess Federation (Fide) active chess rating makes him the top-seed and the only player rated above 2700 in the tournament, repulsed India’s Rauff Mohamed Abbas in the first round before outplaying Woman International Master (WIM) Nouman Amna, the UAE’s top lady player, in the second round.

Six other grandmasters also remained spotless after two rounds: Ivan Sokolov of the Netherlands, Elmar Magerramov of Azerbaijan, Walter Arencibia of Cuba, Efstratios Grivas of Greece and Egypt’s Bassem Amin and Ahmed Adly. Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Andjelija Stojanovic of Serbia also posted two points along with Fide Master (FM) Saeed Ishaq, the second-highest rated Emirati in the tournament, and youthful Emirati International Master (IM) Ibrahim Sultan.

A total of 39 players maintained perfect slates after Tuesday’s first and second round matches.

The third and fourth round matches will be played Wednesday from 10:30pm with Dubai Chess Club protégé Ibrahim Sultan’s encounter against Magerramov, the long-serving coach of the host club, serving as one of the widely anticipated matches of the night.

Sheikh Saud Bin Abdulaziz Al Mualla, President of Sharjah Chess and Culture Club, made the ceremonial first move to officially open the tournament. He was accompanied by Ahmed Khalifa Al Thani, Secretary General of the Arab Chess Federation and Vice-President of Dubai Chess and Culture Club, and Jamal Al Abdooli, General Secretary of the club.

More than 150 players from 22 countries are taking part in the annual tournament that is held in honour of the late UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The nine-round Swiss system tournament, which has been held annually for the past 13 years, also serves as the kick-off event of the club’s activities during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The club is also organising other competitions such as a team blitz chess tournament on June 18 and 19 that is open to all clubs, schools and companies.