Huge success of the Arcapita Open in Bahrain

2/8/2009 – The Kingdom of Bahrain is an microstate in the Persian Gulf, nested between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In 2002 Vladimir Kramnik played a match against Deep Fritz here, this year, for the second time, the Bahrain Chess Club staged an International Open with 14 grandmasters. One of them fell in love with the country and wants to stay there forever. Giant photo report by Mikhail Golubev.

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Huge success of the Arcapita Open

Report from Bahrain by GM Mikhail Golubev

To begin with, I would like to express my gratitude to organisers of the Arcapita International Chess Championship for the invitation to play and at the same time to cover this tournament, which took place from 24 January - 2 February 2009.

A majority of my compatriots know next to nothing about this small, modern country, the Kingdom of Bahrain. A British colleague suggested that the informal title of my round reports could be 'A Ukrainian in Bahrain', which is somewhat more exotic than a Englishman in New York. But a big event like Kramnik vs Deep Fritz 2002 match was held here, so the chess-players are among those who definitely have heard about Bahrain, has have the Formula 1 fans, and, yes, in Bahrain they also have the very best horses in the world!

The Bahrain Chess Club is only three years old, has no permanent venue, and no governmental budget support. Nevertheless, the International Open was organised here already for a second time. Thanks to efforts of the new tournament's sponsor, the Arcapita Bank, this year's event was much stronger than the previous one. Almost 100 players from exactly 20 countries included 45 foreign players and 14 grandmasters.

Strictly speaking, the tournament was taking place in the capital of Bahrain, Manama. But, as the country as small (its population is approximately one million, just like in my hometown of Odessa), people tend to say just 'Bahrain', rather than 'Manama'.

Opening ceremony


The tournament was opened in its beautiful venue, the Alumni Club, on Saturday January 24th


Guests at the opening: the head of the Arab Chess Federation Ibrahim Al-Banai, the CEO of Arcapita Atif Abdulmalik and businessman Abdulrahman Jamsheer


Tournament director Jamal Abdulghaffar


The CEO of Arcapita, Atif Abdulmalik, starts a giant chess game. Next to him are Jamal Abdulghaffar and the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Hassan Fakhro


A Bahrain military orchestra


The symbolic opening game was played by Pave Tregubov and the Egyptian Grandmaster Basem Amin

2000 European Champion Tregubov was the The top seed. He is a Russian Grandmaster who has been living in Paris for many years.


Second seed Vadim Malakhatko (right) also played a symblolic game, against Ahmed Adly

I even met two non-playing grandmasters and old friends of mine: Alex Raetsky (Russia) and Sarkhan Guliev (Azerbaijan), who came as coaches with their pupils from UAE.


GM Alexander Raetsky (second from left) with his pupils


GM Sarkhan Guliev (right) with his pupils


The playing hall, covered with the trademark Arab carpets


The flags of twenty different countries adorn the venue


GMs from the North: Aloyzas Kveinys, Lithuania, and myself, Ukraine


Mohamed Abdullah (Bahrain) vs GM Vadim Malakhatko


A young Indian talent


GM Pavel Tregubov vs Sanajaya Gunawarkona (Sri Lanka)


Al Haddad Mohamed (Bahrain) vs GM Yannick Pelletier


There are no internationally rated female chess-players in Bahrain as of now...


... but hopefully some will emerge soon, like Dalal Al-Ghasra above


...or Aysha Mutaywea of Bahrain


Mommy's capturing a pawn!


GM Essam El Gindy following GM Valentin Iotov's game


A dangerous tactician: IM Mohamed Ezat of Egypt


Vadim Malakhatko at work


Malakhatko's spouse IM Anna Zozulia

Free day: gala dinner in the Bahrain National Museum

January 29 was a free day at the tournament, and a Gala Dinner in the Bahrain National Museum was organised. Without doubt, it was the most memorable museum I have ever visited personally. Let pictures speak for themselves!


Visitors admire the wooden artisans in the museum


Blacksmiths at work producing blades and miscellaneous instruments of restraint


Preparing meals for the museum guests...


... who partake of Arab delicacies at the evening buffet


The outdoor festive meal in the cool Bahrain night

The winners

The key game of the final round, Malakhatko-Iotov, ended peacefully. This result meant that Vadim Malakhatko was the winner of the Arcapita International Chess Championship 2009. Having half a point less, Iotov took second place. Elshan Moradiabadi, grandmaster from Iran, defeated his compatriot GM Amir Bagheri in the last round and took the third place.

Malakhatko has won many international tournaments, and his highest success so far probably was winning the World Team Championship in 2001, when he played on the Ukrainian national team. Nowadays he is representing Belgium, just like Anna Zozulia.

Indian IM Roy Chowdhury, who drew with GM Rasul Ibrahimov in the final round, scored his second grandmaster norm. Another GM norm was achieved in Bahrain by the Georgian IM Davit Jojua, but he had all the required norms already and only needs to reach the 2500 rating mark to get his title. FM Moklis Adnani from Morocco, who scored six points, made an IM norm.

Final table (top ranks with 5½ points or more)

Rank

SNo.

Titl

Name

Rtg

FED

Pts

RtgSum

1

2

GM

Malakhatko, Vadim

2610

BEL

19875

2

8

GM

Iotov, Valentin

2556

BUL

7

20005

3

11

GM

Moradiabadi, Elshan

2505

IRI

7

19517

4

5

GM

Amin, Basem

2562

EGY

19818

5

16

IM

Roy Chowdhury, Saptarshi

2444

IND

19588

6

7

GM

Filippov, Anton

2556

UZB

19482

7

4

GM

Ibrahimov, Rasul

2568

AZE

19396

8

15

IM

Jojua, Davit

2484

GEO

19352

9

9

GM

El Gindy, Essam

2527

EGY

19098

10

3

GM

Adly Ahmed

2568

EGY

19040

11

10

GM

Kveinys, Aloyzas

2522

LTU

6

19279

12

12

GM

Kasparov, Sergey

2488

BLR

6

19137

13

1

GM

Tregubov, Pavel V

2647

RUS

6

19136

14

6

GM

Pelletier, Yannick

2560

SUI

6

19102

15

26

FM

Adnani, Moklis

2326

MAR

6

16730

16

19

IM

Ezat Mohamed

2421

EGY

6

16485

17

14

GM

Bagheri, Amir

2486

IRI

6

16197

18

18

IM

Sriram, Jha

2441

IND

6

16043

19

22

IM

Sharma Dinesh, K

2394

IND

6

15883

20

25

IM

Zozulia, Anna

2376

BEL

6

15841

21

28

IM

Hassan, Abdullah

2320

UAE

6

11769

22

13

GM

Golubev, Mikhail

2487

UKR

19196

23

21

IM

Shoker, Samy

2399

FRA

18689

24

17

IM

Sulashvili, Malkhaz

2444

GEO

18397

25

20

IM

Frhat, Ali

2408

EGY

16847

26

23

IM

Kiss, Pal

2389

HUN

16255

27

27

FM

Othman A, Moussa

2324

UAE

15969

28

24

IM

Sarwat, Walaa

2388

EGY

15709

29

96

Roshan, Dsouza

0

IND

12056

30

29

IM

Shetty, Rahul

2310

IND

11905

31

31

FM

Alhuwar, Jasem

2270

UAE

9931


The champion of Bahrain Ali Al Sulaiti occupied the highest place among the local players (5 points, 37th place)


The Arcapita Championship winner GM Vadim Malakhatko, surrounded by organisers and players

Prize money

Rank

SNo.

Titl

Name

Rtg

FED

Pts

Prize

1

2

GM

Malakhatko, Vadim

2610

BEL

$4,000

2

8

GM

Iotov, Valentin

2556

BUL

7

$2,200

3

11

GM

Moradiabadi, Elshan

2505

IRI

7

$2,200

4

5

GM

Amin, Basem

2562

EGY

$1,086

5

16

IM

Roy Chowdhury, Saptarshi

2444

IND

$1,086

6

7

GM

Filippov, Anton

2556

UZB

$1,086

7

4

GM

Ibrahimov, Rasul

2568

AZE

$1,086

8

15

IM

Jojua, Davit

2484

GEO

$1,086

9

9

GM

El Gindy, Essam

2527

EGY

$1,086

10

3

GM

Adly Ahmed

2568

EGY

$1,086

The organising team and sponsors deserve to be congratulated for a fantastic, successful event, which was liked by everyone! At the closing ceremony it was announced that the next year's event will be even stronger... Special thanks also to the tournament venue, Alumni Club-Al Adliya, Isa Bin Salman Cultural Hall. As the tournament's top rated player GM Pavel Tregubov said in his speech at the closing ceremony, this it is one of the very best playing halls he ever seen.

Every day the newspaper Gulf Daily News - The voice of Bahrain devoted a large space for the round reports by the Sport Editor Vijay Mruthyunjaya, with games, annotated by me. This is what it looked like:

There was one exception: the final report was published on two pages! Vijay Mruthyunjaya's articles can be found in the archives of the Gulf Daily News:

The Bahrain Sport TV channel (Reporter: Noora Khalifa, Editor: Hussian Esa) every day worked at the tournament and it resulted in a nice, detailed TV reports. With their permission, a sample is posted on YouTube:

Results, games and analysis have been published at the official Bahrain Chess Club site.

As a daily annotator, I tried to spot all the best games. Adnani vs Adly was perhaps the most interesting battle that I saw in Bahrain.

FM Moklis Adnani (MAR) (2326) - GM Ahmed Adly (EGY) (2568) [B90]
Arcapita Int Open Championship Manama (5), 28.01.2009 [Golubev,M]

One of the tournament's rating favourites, Adly, was on Wednesday on the verge of defeat in the amazing tactical game. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.h3!? The 11th World Champion Robert Fischer scored several wins by using this move. And such stars of the 21st century as Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin also have had some successes with it. 6...e5 7.Nde2 b5 8.g4 Bb7 9.Bg2 h6 [More common is 9...b4 ] 10.Ng3 g6 11.0-0 Nbd7

12.a4. Instead, 12.Be3 was played before. There Black may try 12...Nb6!? 12...b4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Rc8? A tempting move: Black targets the c2 pawn. But, perhaps, it would have been better to develop the bishop by 14...Bg7! 15.f4!

15...Qb6+. With the idea of 16.Kh1 Qc5!. I do not see how Black could have developed his forces comfortably: 15...exf4 16.Bxf4 Ne5 , planning ...Bg7, is answered by 17.Qe1 Qb6+ 18.Be3 Qa5 19.Qf2!;
Or 15...Qc7 16.Rf2 exf4 17.Bxf4 and 17...Ne5?! , again planning ...Bg7, is refuted tactically by 18.Bxe5 dxe5 19.d6!

16.Rf2 a5. Also after 16...exf4 17.Bxf4 Bg7 18.a5! with the idea of 18...Qc7 19.Qe1+ and 20.Qxb4 White has a clear advantage. 17.f5! Be7 18.fxg6 fxg6 19.Qd3 Rg8 20.Be3! Qa6 21.Qd2

21...Bh4. Or 21...Nb6 22.b3!, restricting the black knight. 22.Ne4! Rc4. Desperation. 22...Bxf2+ 23.Bxf2! is terribly bad for Black who is unable to defend against both threats, 24.Qxh6 and 24.Bf1. 23.Bf1! Rxe4. Black does not get a fully sufficient compensation for a queen, but there was nothing else to do. 24.Bxa6 Bxf2+ 25.Qxf2 Bxa6 26.Bxh6!? Rh8 27.g5 Ke7 28.Qa7 Bc4 29.Rd1 b3 30.cxb3 Bxb3 31.Bg7 Rxh3


32.Bf6+? White played extremely well up until now. But here he missed a win: 32.Bf8+!! and then, e.g., 32...Ke8 33.Qa8+ Kf7 34.Rf1+ Rf4 35.Rxf4+ exf4 36.Bxd6. 32...Ke8 33.Rc1 Rg4+! 34.Kf2

34...Bc4. Curious though definitely not stronger is 34...Bc2 where 35.Qa8+ Kf7 36.Qd8 Rh2+ 37.Kf3 Rh3+ is a draw because White cannot capture a rook: 38.Kxg4?? Bf5#; And really funny is 34...Rh2+ 35.Kf3 Bd1+!! 36.Rxd1 Rhg2 where White, as it seems, escapes by 37.Bxe5!! Nxe5+ 38.Ke3.

35.Rxc4! Or 35.Qa8+ Kf7 and only now 36.Rxc4!, but not 36.Qd8?? Rh2+ 37.Kf3 Be2+! 38.Ke3 Rg3+ 39.Kd2 Bc4+ 40.Ke1 Rg1# . 35...Rxc4 36.Qa8+ Kf7 37.Qd8 Rc2+ 38.Kg1 Rg3+

39.Kh1. White has to agree with a repetition of moves, because after 39.Kf1?! Rf3+ 40.Ke1 Nxf6 41.gxf6 Rxf6 only Black may hope for a victory. 39...Rh3+ 40.Kg1 Rg3+ 41.Kh1 Rh3+ 42.Kg1 Rg3+ 43.Kh1 Rh3+ draw. [Click to replay]

Post scriptum

When I arrived in Bahrain I was armed with some knowledge from the Wikipedia and other sources. I was aware, for example, that it is an island (or, well, an archipelago – but one island is much bigger than the others).

What surprised me most here is that everyone whom I met, without exceptions, were able to converse in English. And the liberalism. Bahrain has the reputation of the most liberal country of the Arab world (it is also the smallest Arab country, by the way). In comparison, the Netherlands is often called the most liberal country in Europe. But liberalism always ends somewhere. In Bahrain, it is not allowed to drink alcohol on the streets, which seems to be a good idea. It is harder to understand why smoking is now forbidden in all Dutch restaurants. While the absence of the smoking areas in the airport transit zones (e.g. in Istanbul, where I still have to spend a couple of hours on my way home), is just a humiliation, and nothing else. When I think about this, I would prefer to stay in Bahrain forever.

Credits

In this report used are photos by A. Jalil S.M. Ayyad, Jaffar Ali, Jamal E. Abdulghaffar. 


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