Former world title contender Vladimir Akopian leads UAE National Day Rapid Chess Tournament

Five grandmasters, 180 players compete in three-day chessfest at Dubai Chess and Culture Club

Dubai, UAE (December 2, 2016) – Former world championship contender Grandmaster (GM) Vladimir Akopian of Armenian and Spanish GM Viktor Moskalenko maintained perfect slates to lead more than 180 players from 24 countries competing in the 45th UAE National Day Rapid Chess Tournament at the Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Hall of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The event, which serves as the centerpiece attraction of the club’s activities commemorating  the 45th founding year of the UAE, was opened by His Excellency Khalid Al Midfa, Assistant Secretary-General of the Public Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, His Excellency Ibrahim Al Bannai, Chairman of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, and Adnan Layouni, representative of the Dubai Sports Council.

Against a backdrop of colourful lights and decorations inspired by the UAE flag, Akopian, the first-ever champion of Dubai’s premier chess event, the Dubai Open Chess Tournament, and a finalist in the 1999 Fide World Chess Championship, showcased his mastery of the 64-square battleground after stringing together six straight wins, including a victory over fellow grandmaster Walter Arencibia of Cuba in the sixth round, to remain unscathed heading into the final three rounds of the nine-round Swiss system tournament.

Moskalenko likewise has six points after defeating Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Andjelija Stojanovic of Serbia in the sixth round. With their wins, Akopian and Moskalenko set-up an exciting showdown on Friday, the UAE national day, to dispute the tournament leadership.

Al Bannai said the annual tournament pays tribute to the leadership of the UAE and their vision for the country. He said the different nationalities taking part in the event reflects the UAE’s success in creating a progressive society that embraces different cultures and ethnicities, built on the solid foundation laid by the late former UAE President His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

On behalf of the club, Al Bannai extended his gratitude and congratulations to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the members of the UAE Supreme Council and rulers of the other emirates.

Dubai’s long-serving coach GM Elmar Magerramov of Azerbaijan and GM Igors Rausis of the Czech Republic trail the leaders with 5.5 points each. Magerramov and Rausis defeated the Philippines’ Dennis San Juan and Francis Erwin Dimarucut respectively.

Arencibia and Stojanovic lead a big group of players with five points apiece, including Fide Masters (FM) Saeed Ishaq and Marshool Hamdan of the UAE, International Master (IM) Iva Videnova of Bulgaria and IM Kamel Njili of Tunisia among others.

According to tournament director International Arbiter (IA) Saeed Yousuf Shakari, India sent the largest delegation to the three-day competition with 70 players, followed by the UAE (40 players) and the Philippines (30 players). The tournament also attracted participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, USA, Cuba and several Arab countries.

Held as part of the club’s activities to mark the UAE’s 45th National Day, the tournament offers a total of Dh22,000 in cash prizes, with the winner taking home Dh5,000 and the championship trophy. The rest of the top eight players will receive cash prizes, as well as the top UAE players (male and female), top Dubai players (male and female) prizes and top scorers in the under 1800 and under 2000 rating categories.

The nine-round Swiss system event allots a thinking time of 15 minutes plus five seconds per move. The club has also appointed IA Jamal Qasim of Yemen, IA Walid Abu Obaid of Jordan, IA Augusto Marcel of the Philippines and the UAE’s Isa Marzouki and Majid Ali Abdouly as arbiters.

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