A youngster from Russia and a grizzled veteran from the US have wrested the lead after winning their respective seventh-round matches Sunday night at the 17th Dubai Open Chess Championship – Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup at Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
Russia’s Grandmaster (GM) Vladimir Fedoseev, who turned 20 in February, broke through 25-year-old Italian GM Daniele Vocaturo’s King’s Indian Defence with a crushing queen-and-rook attack on the seventh rank, culminating with a rook sacrifice on the 35thmove that would either lead to mate or inflict heavy material loss. The Italian opted to resign.
Fedoseev, seeded second in the tournament, now has six points on five wins and two draws in a tie with 47-year-old American GM Alexander Shabalov, who won against France’s GM Andrei Istratescu after 41 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
The Latvia-born Shabalov, a four-time US champion, has pulled together a strong comeback after escaping with a draw in an otherwise lost game against 14-year-old Fide Master (FM) Nail Bashirli from Azerbaijan in the second round, as he has picked up 4.5 points in his next five games on four wins and a draw with top-seed GM Davin Howell of England.
Both players will duke it out for the solo leadership in Monday night’s eighth round.
The other matches between the sixth-round co-leaders ended in draws, relegating them to a tie for the third to ninth places in the provisional standings with 5.5 points apiece. Howell halved the point – his third straight draw after winning his first four matches – following an uneventful Berlin Defence encounter with Turkey’s GM Dragan Solak, who also now has 5.5 points.
In contrast, Swedish GM Nils Grandelius and Ukraine’s GM Yuri Solodovnichenko, the other sixth-round co-leaders, had a more crowd-pleasing, drawn-out encounter, with Grandelius sacrificing his queen for a rook and two minor pieces. Solodovnichenko pressed for an attack against Grandelius’ king with his queen and rook, and was nearly rewarded on the 57thmove when a pawn push could have allowed him to win more material. The Ukrainian, however, missed his chance and Grandelius quickly recovered to build a fortress. Both players played on until the 99th move before agreeing to draw.
The Azerbaijani triumvirate of GM Gadir Guseinov, GM Eltaj Safarli and International Master (IM) Zaur Mammadov complete the chasing pack of 5.5-pointers after winning their respective matches. Guseinov defeated GM Igor Kovalenko of Latvia, Safarli beat GM Gabor Papp of Hungary and Mammadov surprised Venezuelan tenth-seed GM Eduardo Bonelli Iturrizaga, the 2011 champion of the Dubai Open.
The UAE’s Fareed Ahmed defeated Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Narmin Mammadova from Azerbaijan to post his fourth point. Also with four points are Egypt’s IM Mohamed Ezat, who drew with Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Cemre Betul Yildiz of Turkey, IM Eid Mahmoud Abou El Zein, who prevailed over the UAE’s FM Sultan Ibrahim, FM Salah Yousry, who lost to Russia’s GM Aleksandr Shimanov, and WGM Mona Khaled, who outplayed Indian junior player Rajesh Vasanthakumar.
The UAE’s Saeed Ishaq, who lists the ninth-seed Safarli and 13th-seed Milos Perunovic among his victims in the tournament, had an uneventful seventh round when he suffered from time trouble that led to costly mistakes in an attacking game against Syria’s Hisham Al Yaghshi, who moved to four points with the win. FM Nabil Saleh likewise dropped a point to FM Ram Aravind of India.
Ishaq, Saleh and Sultan all have three points, along with Woman International Master (WIM) Amna Nouman, who won over Abdulla Al-Hamed. WIM Essa Kholoud Al-Zarouni defeated Candidate Master Rakan Alattar of Jordan to hike his tally to 2.5 points.
Meanwhile, a representative of the Georgian Chess Federation, Varlam Vepkhvishvili, has sent an email to Dubai Chess and Culture Club expressing his regret for the conduct of Georgian player GM Gaioz Nigalidze, who was caught using a mobile device hidden in a toilet to consult moves with a chess computer during his sixth-round game against Armenia’s GM Tigran Petrosian. The Georgian Chess Federation will impose appropriate sanctions on Nigalidze, who is a two-time champion of Georgia, which could include being banned from official competitions for up to 3 years. Nigalidze has been expelled from the tournament following the incident, which has been reported by various leading news organisations around the world.
Dubai Open Patron
Ahmed Khalifa Al Thani, Vice President of Dubai Chess and Culture Club, commended the tournament officials, led by International Arbiter (IA) Mahdi Abdul Rahim, the tournament’s chief arbiter, and Tournament Director, Yahya Mohamed, for taking swift action on the matter. He also expressed his appreciation to the tournament’s patron, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, for his support that ensured the excellent playing conditions of the tournament.
Ahmed Khalifa Al Thani said: “I would like to express my utmost thanks and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, for his support in making the tournament one of the strongest and best in the world. We would also like to thank the Dubai Sports Council for the support in organising the tournament.”
Ahmed Khalifa said the Dubai Open Chess Tournament continues to attract top players from around the world. The tournament offers a total cash prize of US$50,000, with the champion getting US$12,000 and custody of the Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup. The rest of the top 15 scorers will also receive cash prizes, while special prizes will be awarded to the top local, Arab and woman players.
The tournament is a nine-round Swiss system event with each player allotted 90 minutes plus a 30-second increment for each move to complete a game. The event is being managed by Tournament Director Yahya Mohammed Saleh and IA Mahdi Abdul Rahim, the chief arbiter, and assisted by deputy chief arbiter IA Saeed Yousuf Shakari, IA Jamal Qasim, IA Sheikha Ali Rashid, IA Walid Abu Obeid and IA Marcel Augusto.