One hour before the start of the 5th round, the Sport and Cultural facilities seemed empty. Few Officials and employees were busy doing their task. However this Monday 29th of December 08 is a special day because today, the fate of the Championship could be decided. Sure enough the teams that are strongly leading play each other: Al Ain Chess Club A (UAE) versus Qi Yuan Club (China).
Half way through the competition, both Clubs are showing their ambition, winning all their matches up to this point. However the Al Ain Club has been demonstrating a solid strength with a staggering score of 14 game points out of 16, a very convincing result.
Slowly, the playing hall was getting filled and players started taking their seats. However eyes were more focused on the stage in the centre of the hall where the favorites will compete. The first to appear were Z.Efimenko and G.Sargissian of Al Ain Club. They seemed impatient to begin to play, though one could notice some anxiety on their faces. Within minutes, the other players joined them on the stage, all of them trying to hide their emotions and the tension that one can feel, and doing their best to appear relaxed. Waiting for the Chief Arbiter to give the signal to start the games, they avoided to look at each other.
How will both teams play? Will they settle for serene variations not taking any risk? Or will they choose aggressive strategies, neglecting no possibility and opportunity to fight fiercely in order to take sole lead, with the Championship pretty firmly at reach?
The team of Al Ain did it; they won with 2 1/2 to 1 ½ against the Chinese. They have a total of 10 points, a full 2 points lead, and with only 2 rounds to go, it looks very improbable for the other competitors to catch up with them.
With 8 points, the following teams have little hope to get the championship. They seem to just have been left with the possibility to fight for second and third place:
Qi Yuan (China)
Fajr Shams (Iran)
Some good perspectives for exciting games in the last 2 rounds are expected.
The day ended with a splendid reception for all participants, given in the palace of Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, President of the Asian Chess Federation. The eception was honored by a special guest, namely Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Sri Lanka Minister of Constructions and Engineering Services, also President of the Sri Lanka Chess Federation.
A very enjoyable day to remember.