It was a double victory for GM Aleksey Aleksandrov of Belarus as he won the Open Championship and the Blitz tournament as well in the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival last week in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Asian Chess Federation president Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan (second from left) awards the champion's trophy to GM Aleksey Aleksandrov assisted by a number of dignitaries. From left are Mohd Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Counci, Arab Chess Federation president Ibrahim Al Bannai, Abu Dhabi Chess Club Chairman Saif Nasser Al Suwaidi and Tournament Director Ismail Khouri.
Sheikh Sultan presents a plaque of appreciation to Khaled Al Hamadi, PRO of the Abu Dhabi Municipality. Announcing the awards at right is Hussein Khoury, the driving force in the Abu Dhabi Chess Club.
Local players Hamdan Marshool (left frame) and Ibrahim Khoury (right) receiving their awards.
Nineteen GMs and four IMs headed the field of some one hundred players in the Swiss System Open part of the 2009 Abu Dhabi Chess Festival, now on its 18th year, which offered a total of $22,000 in cash prizes in the Open, Junior age groups, Scheveningen and Blitz tournaments. The GMs were invited for a follow-up tournament, the Armed Forces Club Sportsfest Rapid Chess Championship, also in Abu Dhabi, with a total of $30,000 in cash prizes at stake.
Aleksandrov got off to a quick start with 3 points in the first three rounds, in the process beating local hero GM Saleh Salem of the UAE. His winning streak was stopped by GM Zaven Andriasian but Aleksandrov recovered with a string of wins over two FMs and IM R. Laxman of India.
GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia took over the lead with other GMs and going into the last round, led the pack alone with 7 points. He was paired in the last round with second running Aleksandrov who was tied at 6.5 points with GM Ashot Anastasian of Armenia. With the advantage of the white pieces, Aleksandrov penetrated with both Rooks on the 7th rank to beat Rakhmanov in 46 moves. As GM Yuri Drozdovskij of Ukraine held Anastasian to a draw Aleksandrov finished alone in first place.
Aleksandrov scored 7.5 points out of 9 rounds, ahead of five players who shared second place. Tied with 7 points each were GMs Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia, Ashot Anastasian, Zaven Andriasian and Melkumyan Hrant, all of Armenia, and Stanislav Savchenko of Ukraine.
Trailing with 6.5 points each were GMs Amin Bassem and Essam El Gindy of Egypt, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran, Edvins Kengis of Latvia and Yuri Drozdovskij of Ukraine, IM R Laxman of India and FM Saeed Ishaq of the UAE.
Instead of the regular tournament round on a Friday, organizers held a blitz tournament which was also won by Aleksandrov, who tied with 9 points out of 11 rounds, but prevailed in the Buccholz tie break over Rakhmanov.
In the junior event, 64 players from 11 countries took part together in one 9 round Swiss for four age groups, Under-9, 11, 13 and 15. Doting parents and coaches accompanied their wards and children.
In the Under-9 age group, Moza Al Mansouri of the UAE (left photo) topped the event with 5 points, winning the tie over compatriot Mohammed Marshool. Three players tied with 6 points each in the Under-11. Al Dhaheri Shaikha of the UAE won by tie break over R. Niranjan of India and Hamdan Marshool of the UAE. John Axel Valerio of the Philippines (right photo above) won the Under-15 age group with 8 points followed by Ahmed Al Zarouni of the UAE with 7 and Khalil Bukhalaf with 6.5 points.
M. Vigram of India (right) topped the Under-13 age group with 8 points followed by Mostafa Abdulwahab and sultan Marshool of the UAE.
Players were also treated to tours of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque with its 24-carat gold lining and $3M silk carpet. Non-muslims women visiting the Mosque, such as WGM Natalia Zdebskaya above with husband GM Yuri Drozdovskij, were lent the Arabic black robes and scarf to wear inside. Players were also taken on a tour of the plush Hotel Emirates Palace where rooms cost up to $11,000 a night.
Back to the Chess Festival, IM Vasilij Gagarin of Russia scored the highest in the Scheveningen match with 7.5 points out of 9 games. Four players followed with 7 points each, FM Khouri Ibrahim Mohamed of the UAE placed second followed by FM Djakhangir Agaragimov of Azerbaijan, WGM Maria Manakova of Serbia and IM Akaki Shalamberidze of Georgia.
The children were also given simultaneous exhibitions by GM Salem A. R. Saleh of the UAE and former Women's World Champion Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia, and puzzle contests from Mehrdad Pahlavenzadeh of Iran. It was a closely fought tournament and nobody won his Guess the Winners contest.
The tournament was a marketing exercise for chess and many major sponsors supported the chess festival. Abu Dhabi Chess Club Finance Director Hussein Khouri oversaw the organization with the able assistance of Tournament Director Ismail Khouri and Club Technical Manager Zuhair Hussein Ahmad and Chief Arbiter Tariq Khouri. Asian Chess Federation Deputy President Casto Abundo was Technical Adviser while Mehrdad Pahlavenzadeh ably managed the live broadcast.
Final standings are in chess-results.com: Open, Blitz, Scheveningen, Junior age groups. Download games at the Abu Dhabi Chess Club web site.