Amateur player pulls off surprise championship finish over grandmasters in October Rapid Chess Tournament

Marlon Mortel pulled the rug from under the top-seeded grandmasters to claim the championship cup in the Dubai Chess and Culture Club October Rapid Chess Tournament, which concluded Saturday night with more than 130 participants from 17 countries.

The fifth-seeded Filipino secured the title following a fighting draw with second-seeded Cuban Grandmaster (GM) Walter Rodriguez Arencibia in the final round to hike his total output to 6.5 points. Arencibia sacrificed a rook for a knight to create an attack against the black king, but Mortel had enough resources to keep the game balanced, forcing the Cuban grandmaster to repeat moves and settle for a draw.

The draw was still enough for Arencibia to clinch the runner-up spot with six points, edging out five others who had the same score on tiebreaks. Top-seed GM Viktor Moskalenko of Spain finished third also with six points after outplaying Emirati junior standout International Master (IM) Ibrahim Sultan in the final round.

The Philippines’ Erwin Dimarucut and Jobannie Tabada took the fourth and fifth spots. The top five placers received prizes from the organisers. Filipino Rolando Gangozo and the UAE’s Fide Master (FM) Othman Moussa also had six points apiece to finish sixth and seventh.

Moussa received a special award as the top Dubai player, while unrated Marx Zed Aguilar of the Philippines scored 5.5 points to receive the special prize for the best player with an International Chess Federation rating below 1600.

“There was such a huge response to the event with more than 130 players from 17 nationalities,” said Yahya Mohammad, Development and Planning Manager of Dubai Chess and Culture Club. “We even had to cut short the registration period as we had exceeded the maximum number of participants just days after the registration opened. This shows the increasing appeal of chess in the society, particularly among the youth whose numbers have grown immensely in our recent tournaments and in the club’s chess academy. We are organising more tournaments and activities, including a blitz event in November and the annual UAE National Day Tournament, to close out another fruitful year for chess in Dubai.”