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GM Boris Savchenko leads 18th Dubai Open Tournament with one round to go

Russia’s Grandmaster (GM) Boris Savchenko picked up his fourth win in a row at the expense of Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov to grab the pole position with seven points heading into the final round of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament – Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Cup at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

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Grandmaster Boris Savchenko

GM Gawain Jones of England and GM Vladimir Akopian of Armenia, who shared the eighth-round lead with Savchenko and Sokolov, drew their match to drop to a share of second place with three others, each toting 6.5 points. Sokolov dropped to a tie at third with six others with six points each.

Savchenko sprang an opening surprise against Sokolov’s Open variation of the Ruy Lopez with the rarely seen bishop retreat to c2 on move 11. The Dutch GM responded energetically by pushing his d-pawn to white’s third rank and centralising his queen to d5.

After blitzing out his first dozen moves, the Russian then sank into a deep think, using up nearly half his remaining time on 13.Ng5. Sokolov, who currently  serves as the UAE national coach, continued his aggressive intentions by planting a knight deep into white territory – on e2 and protected by the d3-pawn – but with the Dutch’s king still in the centre, Savchenko had some deadly tactics at his disposal to launch a counter offensive, forcing Sokolov to give up his rook for a bishop to buy time and whisk away his king to safety in the kingside.

But by this time Savchenko’s material advantage was already substantial, although Sokolov was still presented an opportunity to complicate matters with 28…Nxc1, taking away the bishop that was guarding black’s passer on d3. The Dutch grandmaster missed his opportunity, allowing the Russian to cruise to victory after 43 moves.

Jones defended with the hyper-aggressive Dragon variation of the Sicilian against Akopian and both played more than a dozen moves of theory. After neutralising the Englishman’s offensive attempt in the queenside, Akopian lunged his h-pawn forward to open the file and create mating threats against the black king. While Jones had enough resources to keep Akopian’s attack at bay, the resulting pawn exchange on g6 left black’s camp with serious structural deficiencies – three isolated pawns on a7, c6 and e7.

Akopian continued poking at black’s weaknesses, but the Englishman was able to partially improve his pawn structure with a rook exchange on d6 and eventually held the line in a drawn-out endgame on the 71st move.

Grandmaster Gawain Jones of England

Grandmaster Gawain Jones of England

Joining Akopian and Jones at joint second place are 2007 Dubai Open champion GM Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia, GM Alexander Fier of Brazil and Iran’s GM Darini Pouria.

Pantsulaia opened with the Reti against India’s GM S. P. Sethuraman and embarked on a positional pawn sacrifice that left the Indian’s pieces in a bind. Sethuraman returned the pawn to create some breathing room, but Pantsulaia stepped up the offensive with his two bishops dominating the open diagonals. The Indian was already under severe pressure when Pantsulaia unleashed a visually appealing bishop sacrifice on the 33rd move that would lead to a forced mate in six, after which Sethuraman promptly resigned.

The 39th-seeded Darini took down 11th-seed GM Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan in 60 moves of a French Defence, while Fier overpowered Indian International Master (IM) Shardul Gagare in 38 moves of a Benoni opening.

Savchenko will have the black pieces against Jones on board one in Tuesday’s final round, while Pantsulaia will have white against Akopian on second board. Fier will have white against Darini. All six players have a shot at claiming the championship.

UAE and Arab and results

Fide Master (FM) Mayed Alrashedi scored an upset win over Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Mona Khaled of Egypt to hike his tally to four points. FM Saeed Ishaq, however, continues to hold on to the lead in the UAE standings with 4.5 points after beating India’s Sanjeev Nair.

Egypt’s Bassem Amin remains the top Arab player with five points after beating Kazakhstan’s GM Petr Kostenko.

Longest game with a twist

The round established a new record for the tournament’s longest game as GM Mollah Abdullah Al Rakib of Bangladesh and IM Eduard Kanter of Russia battled for six hours and 170 moves in a game that ultimately ended in a draw – but perhaps with a heart-breaking twist. Al Rakib was doing well on the defensive end of a textbook rook-and-bishop vs. rook endgame – which is a theoretical draw, but is much harder to handle over the board – until a number of inaccuracies allowed the Russian to reach a winning set-up. After Kanter played his 170th move, Al Rakib was left with two choices: allow mate or give up his rook. Neither was required as the Bangladeshi GM successfully claimed a technical draw – he would be making his 50th move on his next turn, and by playing any move that does not involve a capture, he could invoke the 50-move rule.

International Arbiter (IA) Mahdi Abdul Rahim, the tournament’s seasoned chief arbiter, declared a draw, explaining that any player can claim a draw if 50 moves have been played without a single capture or pawn move. He further said that the arbiter can step in and declare a draw if 75 moves have been made without any capture or pawn move.

Championship prizes

The tournament offers a total cash purse of US$50,000 with US$13,000 going to the champion, as well as the Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Cup. The rest of the top 15 finishers will also receive cash prizes. There are also special awards for the top Arab, UAE and women players, as well as top scorers in the 2400-2300, 2200-2100 and under 2000 rating categories.

Standings after Round 8:

1 GM Savchenko Boris RUS 2607 7
2 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2656 6.5
3 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2650 6.5
4 GM Pantsulaia Levan GEO 2604 6.5
5 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2619 6.5
6 GM Darini Pouria IRI 2496 6.5
7 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2626 6
8 GM Yilmaz Mustafa TUR 2594 6
9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2648 6
10 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2693 6
11 GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2616 6
12 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. RUS 2562 6
13 GM Bruzon Batista Lazaro CUB 2679 6
14 GM Adhiban B. IND 2663 5.5
15 GM Howell David W L ENG 2678 5.5
16 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2658 5.5
17 IM Gagare Shardul IND 2491 5.5
18 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2695 5.5
19 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2544 5.5
20 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2656 5.5
21 GM Ghosh Diptayan IND 2562 5.5
22 IM Thejkumar M. S. IND 2427 5.5
23 IM Ali Marandi Cemil Can TUR 2473 5.5
24 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2638 5.5
25 IM Das Arghyadip IND 2441 5.5
26 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. IND 2466 5.5
27 FM Anwuli Daniel NGR 2365 5.5
28 IM Tabatabaei M.Amin IRI 2466 5.5
29 GM Andriasian Zaven ARM 2616 5.5
GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND 2515 5.5
31 GM Amin Bassem EGY 2655 5.5
32 GM Haznedaroglu Kivanc TUR 2473 5.5
33 FM Gholami Aryan IRI 2429 5.5
34 GM Can Emre TUR 2555 5.5
35 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2585 5.5
36 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2662 5.5
37 GM Mammadov Zaur AZE 2456 5
38 IM Ris Robert NED 2412 5
39 IM Karthikeyan P. IND 2463 5
40 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2672 5
41 IM Ly Moulthun AUS 2506 5
42 IM Ezat Mohamed EGY 2467 5
43 WIM Pratyusha Bodda IND 2318 5
44 FM Asadli Vugar AZE 2378 5
45 IM Padmini Rout IND 2439 5
46 GM Arun Prasad S. IND 2509 5
47 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2625 5
48 GM Arribas Lopez Angel ESP 2549 5
49 IM Nitin S. IND 2359 5
50 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2507 5
51 IM Swayams Mishra IND 2463 5
52 IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin IRI 2456 5
53 IM Pascua Haridas PHI 2427 5
54 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2695 5
55 IM Aryan Chopra IND 2447 4.5
56 WGM Saduakassova Dinara KAZ 2411 4.5
57 IM Rajesh V A V IND 2358 4.5
58 GM Kostenko Petr KAZ 2450 4.5
59 IM Rathnakaran K. IND 2456 4.5
Gusain Himal IND 2429 4.5
61 FM Samhouri A. JOR 2365 4.5
62 GM Debashis Das IND 2452 4.5
FM Mehar Chinna Reddy C.H. IND 2347 4.5
64 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2554 4.5
65 IM Di Berardino Diego Rafael BRA 2512 4.5
GM Ankit R. Rajpara IND 2491 4.5
67 Muthaiah Al IND 2281 4.5
68 FM Hafiz Arif Abdul INA 2326 4.5
69 GM Mollah Abdullah Al Rakib BAN 2492 4.5
70 IM Kanter Eduard RUS 2368 4.5
71 IM Nezad Husein Aziz QAT 2421 4.5
72 FM Bashirli Nail AZE 2381 4.5
73 IM Sanal Vahap TUR 2478 4.5
74 Marcos Marvin PHI 2112 4.5
75 IM Das Sayantan IND 2435 4.5
IM Krishna C R G IND 2404 4.5
77 IM Akshat Khamparia IND 2362 4.5
78 IM Mohammad Minhaz Uddin BAN 2439 4.5
79 Rogoznikov Andrey RUS 2296 4.5
80 FM Saeed Ishaq UAE 2286 4.5
81 Harsha Bharathakoti IND 2319 4.5
82 Hemant Sharma (del) IND 2246 4.5
83 IM Fawzy Adham EGY 2475 4.5
84 Kaboodi Behrang IRI 2114 4.5
85 IM Karavade Eesha IND 2403 4
86 FM Bisby Daniel L ENG 2275 4
87 IM Hesham Abdelrahman EGY 2390 4
88 GM Hossain Enamul BAN 2426 4
89 IM Gaponenko Inna UKR 2408 4
90 FM Karthik V. Ap IND 2385 4
91 Godarz Kasra IRI 2221 4
92 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2358 4
93 IM Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel MGL 2490 4
94 FM Nihal Sarin IND 2351 4
CM Erigaisi Arjun IND 2350 4
96 GM Laxman R.R. IND 2406 4
IM Feldman Vladimir AUS 2154 4
98 Dimarucut Francis Erwin PHI 2122 4
99 IM Abou El Zein Eid Mahmoud EGY 2150 4
100 WGM Swati Ghate IND 2279 4
101 CM Drost Peter NED 2107 4
102 IM Galojan Lilit ARM 2303 4
103 Rahul Srivatshav P IND 2352 4
104 Basil Alshouha JOR 2153 4
105 FM Srinath Rao S.V. IND 2233 4
106 Nimmy A.G. IND 2148 4
107 WIM Heinemann Josefine GER 2259 4
108 FM Mayed Alrashedi UAE 1977 4
109 Nyazi Nehad EGY 2242 3.5
110 Aradhya Garg IND 2287 3.5
111 WGM Kulkarni Bhakti IND 2284 3.5
112 FM Mohannad Farhan JOR 2239 3.5
113 CM Nadir Samir SUD 2190 3.5
114 FM Kuznetsov Mikhail V. RUS 2341 3.5
115 FM Yousry Salah EGY 2266 3.5
116 FM Saleh Nabil UAE 2229 3.5
117 IM Rohan Ahuja IND 2440 3.5
118 WIM Mammadova Narmin AZE 2204 3.5
119 FM Hamdan Marshool UAE 2003 3.5
120 Salah Romany EGY 2090 3.5
121 CM Prince Bajaj IND 2282 3.5
122 Doostkam P IRI 2095 3.5
123 WGM Maisuradze Nino FRA 2268 3.5
124 WIM Ivana Maria Furtado IND 2091 3.5
125 WIM Thipsay Bagyashree Sathe IND 2085 3.5
126 Kucuksari Kaan TUR 2125 3.5
127 Nair Sanjeev IND 1832 3.5
128 Majed Ali Abdouli UAE 1657 3.5
129 Ababneh Ghayth JOR 2051 3.5
130 IM Berezina Irina AUS 2154 3.5
131 WFM Tarini Goyal IND 2008 3.5
132 Raahul V S IND 1927 3.5
133 IM Sultan Ibrahim UAE 2045 3.5
134 Odeh Kenneth NGR 2031 3.5
135 Tabada Jobannie C. PHI 2234 3.5
136 Mahmoud Haitham SUD 1958 3.5
137 Ahmad Al Romaithi UAE 1681 3.5
138 IM Kerigan Demre TUR 2358 3
139 WGM Mona Khaled EGY 2219 3
140 Ismayilzada Ismayil AZE 1858 3
141 Elnemr Mohamed EGY 2107 3
142 Pankaj Sindhu IND 1645 3
143 WGM Makropoulou Marina GRE 2176 3
144 Anilkumar O.T. IND 2080 3
145 Mohamed Marshool UAE 1662 3
146 Ali Abdulaziz UAE 1910 3
147 FM Ahmed Fareed UAE 1995 3
148 Danilo Reyes G. PHI 1618 3
149 Jijo Joy IND 1527 3
150 Yap Ernesto M. PHI 2024 3
151 Mursalli Matin AZE 1791 3
152 CM Saleh Nagueb UAE 2208 3
153 FM Elmejbri Ali A. LBA 2026 3
154 Rafee Mohd Hayel SYR 1938 3
155 Wang Shanshan CHN 2076 3
156 Mohamed Saeed Laily UAE 1519 3
157 Alem Ali Hussien KSA 1832 3
158 Mosallam Mohammad UAE 1549 3
159 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2621 2.5
160 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2615 2.5
161 Sameir Ramez EGY 2070 2.5
162 CM Mendonca Leon Luke IND 1760 2.5
163 Arjun Adappa IND 1938 2.5
164 Ashraf Ahmed Ramadan EGY 1911 2.5
165 Basheer P V IND 1751 2.5
166 Jaeel Atharva IND 1617 2.5
167 FM Ammar Sedrani UAE 1701 2.5
168 Al Hamed Saif Idrees UAE 1649 2.5
169 Elrashed Siddig SUD 1974 2.5
170 Ghanem Al Shamari QAT 1544 2.5
171 Abdulla Al-Hamed UAE 1871 2.5
172 Salem Ahmed Salem UAE 1725 2.5
173 Anant Prabhudesai IND 1894 2
174 Ahmed Rashed Al Hefeti UAE 1550 2
Saif Ahmed UAE 1453 2
176 Al-Khelaifi Kholoud QAT 1496 2
177 Fawwaz Mohammed IND 1468 2
178 CM Khalifah Khaled UAE 1532 2
179 Al Zaabi Talal UAE 1578 2
180 WCM Al-Khulaifi Ghada QAT 1683 2
181 Khaled Ahmed Y. UAE 1664 2
182 Hamad Essam UAE 1516 2
183 Hakobyan Hovhannes H. ARM 2183 1.5
184 AIM Khezrian Mohammad USA 1483 1.5
185 Hamad Ahmad Alkaabi UAE 1554 1.5
186 Shahzad Asif PAK 1703 1.5
187 WCM Al-Khelaifi Aisha QAT 1736 1
188 Khaled Shihadeh JOR 1528 1
189 WFM Al-Khulaifi Fatima A. QAT 1617 0.5
190 GM Lalith Babu M R IND 2579 0
FM Bilguun Sumiya MGL 2379 0
IM Yandarbiev Ruslan RUS 2358 0
IM Purtseladze Maka GEO 2347 0
WGM Mammadzada Gunay AZE 2318 0
Almajbari Abdalla Ali LBA 1758 0

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