The 2015 Abu Dhabi Masters begins

by Sagar Shah
8/24/2015 – This event is being held from the 23rd to 31st of August 2015 in the capital city of UAE. 120 players from 35 countries, with 44 grandmasters, are participating. 22 players have a rating of more than 2600. The winner takes home US $12,000. It’s nine round Swiss tournament with the rate of play being one hour 30 minutes + 30 seconds increment per move. Round one report.

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The Abu Dhabi Masters begins

Report from the tournament venue by IM Sagar Shah

Relieved after getting our visas, on 22nd of August, my wife Amruta and I, who had received a kind invitation, headed towards the United Arab Emirates with great excitement – to take part in the to play in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Masters, the second strongest open tournament in Asia (first is Qatar). It’s very rare that you get see top players like Almasi, Kryvoruchko, Rapport, Jobava and many others in action.

In spite of being nestled in the Arabian Desert, it is mind-boggling to see how well-developed UAE is!


In order to play in the event you could take a direct flight to Abu Dhabi or reach Dubai or Sharjah. Both those cities are approximately 150 kilometers away from Abu Dhabi, and the organizers provide transport from all the three airports. The journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi took us around two hours and was quite comfortable.

It is a wonderful feeling when the organizers are there to receive you right on time at the airport

Abu Dhabi lies in the T shaped-island in the Persian Gulf. And yes you read it right! The temperature in the afternoons is as high as 45 degrees! But if you are going to travel in an air conditioned automobile and then stay in air conditioned hotel which is also the venue of the tournament, you won’t really have to interact with this punishing climate.

All invited players and grandmasters are given accommodation in the five-star
Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, the official hotel and venue for the Abu Dhabi Masters.

The room is spacious and comfortable and when you open the curtains …

… this is what awaits you!

The organizers make great use of the television in the rooms to send updates and reminders to players in form of personalized messages like this one which says, “We would like to inform you that your technical meeting will be tomorrow at 12 in Crystal Ballroom, P2 level.”

Choosing the perfect cereal for your breakfast is as tricky as deciding on the right opening for the game!

It was for the first time in my life that I tasted Pitaya or dragon fruit (in the foreground)

The opening ceremony took place at 6 p.m. in the ballroom on the August 23, with a fast paced LED show

And on the spot live painting of Khalifa bin Zahyad Al Nahyan
who is the President of UAE and the ruler of Abu Dhabi

An attendant provides you with a cup of Arabic tea

13 and a half hour flight journey from the United States of America and still in great spirits:
Samuel Shankland at the inauguration (with guess who sitting to his left – solution below)

"And his back rank was totally undefended!" A live wire on and off the board,
Baadur Jobava tells his stories as GMs Debashis Das and Abhijeet Gupta listen in a state of trance!

GM Alexander Kovchan with his wife

The tournament has one game each day except on 25th August which has double rounds. There is a rest day on the 28th. The first round began a little late, mainly because many of the players who had confirmed their entries did not show up. The arbiter decided against changing the pairing and there were as many as ten walkovers in the first round.

Abhishek Kelkar is given the "bad news" that his opponent and the top seed of the event
Igor Kovalenko is not going to turn up. Kovalenko’s non-appearance makes...

... Zoltan Almasi the top seed and the only 2700 player in the event

[Event "Abu Dhabi Chess Masters"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.24"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Almasi, Zoltan"] [Black "Rohan, Ahuja"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2700"] [BlackElo "2389"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "133"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:02:54"] [BlackClock "0:02:35"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a4 Bd7 9. c3 O-O 10. Bc2 b4 11. Nbd2 Rb8 12. Re1 h6 13. h3 Re8 14. d4 bxc3 15. bxc3 exd4 16. cxd4 Nb4 17. Bb1 d5 18. e5 Nh7 19. Nf1 Nf8 20. Be3 Ne6 21. Ng3 c5 22. Nf5 cxd4 23. N3xd4 Nxd4 24. Bxd4 Bxf5 25. Bxf5 Nc6 26. e6 fxe6 27. Bxe6+ Kh8 28. Rc1 Nxd4 29. Qxd4 Bf6 30. Qxd5 Qxd5 31. Bxd5 Rxe1+ 32. Rxe1 a5 33. g3 Rd8 34. Bc4 h5 35. h4 Kh7 36. Re6 Rd2 37. Be2 Kg6 38. Kf1 Ra2 39. Bb5 Kf5 40. Bd7 Ra1+ 41. Kg2 Bd4 42. Ra6+ Ke5 43. Rxa5+ Kd6 44. Be8 Ke7 45. Bxh5 Ra2 46. Rf5 Rxa4 47. Rf4 Rb4 48. Re4+ Kd6 49. Bf7 Kc5 50. f4 Rb2+ 51. Kh3 Rb1 52. Re6 Rh1+ 53. Kg4 Rg1 54. Rg6 Bf2 55. Kf3 Bd4 56. h5 Rh1 57. Kg4 Bf6 {[#]White with his two extra pawns should of course be winning, but opposite coloured bishop endings can often be tricky. Almasi finds a very simple and straight forward way to break his opponent's blockade.} 58. Rxf6 $1 {Not very difficult to find for a player of Almasi's calibre.} gxf6 59. Kf5 Rh3 60. Kxf6 (60. g4 Rf3 61. h6 Rh3 62. Bh5 $18 {was also winning.}) 60... Rxg3 61. h6 Rh3 62. Kg7 Kd4 63. Bg6 Ra3 (63... Ke3 64. f5 $18 {and the h-pawn queens.}) 64. h7 Ra7+ 65. Bf7 Ra8 66. Bg8 Ra7+ 67. Kg6 1-0

Second seeded Yuriy Kryvoruchko played a model game with his knights in the first round.

[Event "Abu Dhabi Chess Masters"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.24"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Gevorgyan, David Sh"] [Black "Kryvoruchko, Yuriy"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E43"] [WhiteElo "2374"] [BlackElo "2697"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "128"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:05"] [BlackClock "0:20:51"] {The game between Gevorgyan and Kryvoruchko was a battle between the bishops and knights. Look how Yuriy makes sure that the position is never opened up for his opponent's bishops.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 b6 5. Bd3 Bb7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Qc2 c5 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 d6 10. O-O Bxf3 $5 11. gxf3 {[#]The game becomes very interesting from the point of view of the imbalances in the position. Black has the knights and wants to keep the position closed, while White has the bishops and wants to open diagonals for them at all costs.} e5 12. d5 Re8 13. a4 a5 $1 {A strong positional move. Even though b6 becomes a backward pawn on an open file it was more important not to let White open lines.} 14. Kg2 $6 (14. Kh1 {[%cal Gf1g1] followed by Rg1 looks more logical.}) 14... Nbd7 15. Bd2 Nf8 16. Rh1 Nh5 (16... Ng6 $5 {was a nice idea. The important point being} 17. h4 {is met by} e4 $1 18. fxe4 Nd7 $1 {With an attack on the h4 pawn.} 19. f4 (19. h5 Nh4+ 20. Kf1 Qg5 $17) 19... Nxh4+ 20. Kf2 Ng6 21. Rag1 $13) 17. Rag1 Qf6 18. Bf5 g6 19. Bd3 Kh8 20. h4 Nd7 21. Be2 Qe7 22. Kf1 f5 23. Ke1 Ndf6 24. Kd1 Qd7 25. Kc1 e4 26. f4 {[%csl Gd2] Look at the d2 bishop. It has absolutely no scope and no future!} Ng4 27. Be1 Nhf6 28. Kb2 Kg7 $1 {The king is transferred to the queenside before opening the kingside.} 29. Ka3 Kf7 30. Qb2 Ke7 31. Rg2 (31. Qxb6 Rab8 32. Qc6 Qa7 $19 { [%csl Rc6] and Rec8 will trap the queen.}) 31... Kd8 $1 {Setting a bait - Black is ready to give up the b-pawn with a check!} 32. Qb5 (32. Qxb6+ Ke7 33. Qb5 Qa7 34. Qb2 Rab8 $17 {White pieces stand quite horribly on the kingside.}) 32... Rg8 33. Bd2 Rb8 34. Rb1 Rg7 35. Qxd7+ Kxd7 36. Rh1 h6 37. Kb3 Rbg8 38. Be1 g5 {The final breakthrough for the rooks to enter the position.} 39. hxg5 hxg5 40. fxg5 $6 (40. Bd2 gxf4 41. exf4 $11 {And it is not very easy to breakthrough as White will play f3 on the next move.}) 40... Rxg5 41. Rgg1 Ne5 42. Rxg5 Rxg5 43. Kc2 Rg2 44. Bf1 Rg7 45. Be2 Ke7 46. Kd2 Nh7 $1 {The knight is going to the f3 square.} 47. Rh5 Ng5 48. Kd1 Ngf3 49. Rh1 (49. Bxf3 Nxf3 50. Rxf5 Rg1 $19) 49... Rg4 50. Kc2 Rg2 51. Kd1 Nh2 {Blocking the h-file. White's rook has to remain passive now.} 52. Kd2 Kf6 53. Kd1 Nef3 54. Bxf3 Nxf3 55. Ke2 Rg1 56. Rxg1 Nxg1+ {[#]Material is even, but look how the knight simply cleans up the white pawns.} 57. Kd1 Nf3 58. Ke2 Ne5 {No way to defend the c4 pawn.} 59. f4 exf3+ {Number one.} 60. Kf1 Nxc4 {Number two.} 61. Bg3 Nxe3+ {Number three.} 62. Kf2 Nxd5 {Number four.} 63. c4 Nc3 64. Bxd6 Ne4+ {The only active move by the bishop resulted in its death!} 0-1

World’s greatest experts on unorthodox play captured in one frame – Baadur Jobava, Richard Rapport

When the opponent makes an early g-pawn push, Vladimir Akopian shows the best way
to react – keep your cool, drink a cup of tea and yeah, play in the center!

[Event "Abu Dhabi Chess Masters"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.24"] [Round "1.9"] [White "Oganisian, Roman"] [Black "Akopian, Vladimir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E21"] [WhiteElo "2328"] [BlackElo "2647"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:59"] [BlackClock "0:35:20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. g4 $5 {Only one game has been played with this move before: Indjic against Efimenko, which ended in a win for Black.} Bb7 (5... Nxg4 6. Rg1 {Recovers the pawns and gives excellent play. }) 6. g5 Ne4 7. Qd3 d5 {It's very nice to see how Akopian plays in the center against the flank attack by his opponent.} 8. cxd5 exd5 9. h4 c5 10. Bd2 O-O $1 {When you have not broken any rules of opening play you shouldn't be afraid to 0-0. Even if your opponents pawns are so far advaanced.} 11. a3 Bxc3 12. Bxc3 Re8 13. b4 Ba6 14. Qc2 Nc6 15. Bb2 Rc8 {Each and every move that Black makes is a developing move and towards the center of the board.} 16. Qa4 Bc4 17. dxc5 bxc5 18. e3 Bxf1 19. Kxf1 d4 $1 {Of course! The culmination of Black's central strategy. White's pawns on h4-g5 have been able to cause absolutely no damage.} 20. exd4 Qd5 21. Qd1 cxd4 22. Rh2 d3 23. Nd2 Nxd2+ 24. Qxd2 Ne5 25. Qf4 d2 26. Rd1 Nf3 {The h2 rook is hanging and with Re1+ coming up. Roman resigns. A very instructive game by the experienced Armenian grandmaster.} 0-1

Completely focused and determined – Samuel Shankland

"Oh dear, the flag is wrong!" The crosses seem to indicate that Gawain Jones is playing
for Georgia instead of England! We want to stress that this is not a case of a federation change!

Did you guess right (who was sitting next to Shankland at the opening ceremony)?
It was Nils Grandelius, from whom you can expect a new look in almost every tournament.

The photographer of this report, Amruta Mokal, and WGM Soumya
Swaminathan posing in the Instagram booth outside the playing hall

Chess is everywhere – on the walls, on sofas and in the hearts of everyone at the 22nd Abu Dhabi Open

Video impressions by Vijay Kumar

Top pairings/results of round one (on August 23, 2015at 6:00 PM)

Bo. No. Ti. Name Rtg
Ti. Name Rtg No.
1 66   Abhishek Kelkar 2400
GM Kovalenko Igor 2702 1
2 2 GM Almasi Zoltan 2700
FM Rohan Ahuja 2389 68
3 69 IM Gevorgyan David 2374
GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2697 3
4 4 GM Rapport Richard 2671
  Kulkarni Rakesh 2368 70
5 71 FM Salih Akar Ali Salih 2359
- - +
GM Jobava Baadur 2664 5
6 6 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2664
IM Tissir Mohamed 2351 72
7 73 FM Nuber Blasius 2339
GM Areshchenko Alex. 2661 7
8 8 GM Shankland Samuel 2655
FM Kowsarinia Amir 2332 74
9 75 FM Oganisian Roman 2328
GM Akopian Vladimir 2647 9
10 10 GM Jones Gawain C B 2647
WGM Soumya Swaminathan 2325 76
11 77 CM Asadli Vugar 2324
GM Kuzubov Yuriy 2638 11
12 12 GM Grandelius Nils 2628
FM Mansour Sameer 2292 79
13 80   Firouzja Alireza 2277
GM Vovk Yuri 2624 14
14 15 GM Petrosian Tigran L. 2623
WIM Severina Maria 2276 81
15 82 FM Mahdavirad Mehdi 2274
GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr 2620 16
16 17 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2619
  Fendereski Nima 2268 83
17 84 IM Heydarli Kanan 2256
GM Onischuk Vladimir 2618 18
18 19 GM Swiercz Dariusz 2617
  Antonio Viani D'cunha 2255 85
19 86 FM Saleh Nabil 2249
GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan 2609 20
20 21 GM Kovchan Alexander 2605
  Raja Harshit 2247 87

Top round two pairings

Bo. No. Ti. Name Rtg Res. Ti. Name Rtg No.
1 35 GM Belous Vladimir 2566   GM Almasi Zoltan 2700 2
2 3 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2697   GM Vaibhav Suri 2552 37
3 40   Predke Alexandr 2548   GM Rapport Richard 2671 4
4 5 GM Jobava Baadur 2664   GM Horvath Adam 2540 43
5 42 GM Timofeev Artyom 2542   GM Sjugirov Sanan 2664 6
6 44 GM Vakhidov Jahongir 2525   GM Shankland Samuel L 2655 8
7 9 GM Akopian Vladimir 2647   GM Pakleza Zbigniew 2520 45
8 46 GM Harika Dronavalli 2509   GM Jones Gawain C B 2647 10
9 11 GM Kuzubov Yuriy 2638   GM Debashis Das 2489 47
10 48 IM Sadzikowski Daniel 2480   GM Grandelius Nils 2628 12
11 14 GM Vovk Yuri 2624   IM Ezat Mohamed 2476 49
12 53 IM Pascua Haridas 2447   GM Petrosian Tigran L. 2623 15
13 16 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr 2620   IM Padmini Rout 2444 54
14 55 GM Czebe Attila 2439   GM Gupta Abhijeet 2619 17
15 57 IM Yagubi Asif 2431   GM Swiercz Dariusz 2617 19
16 20 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan 2609     Vignesh N R 2430 58
17 59   Visakh N R 2411   GM Kovchan Alexander 2605 21
18 22 GM Prohaszka Peter 2602   IM Karavade Eesha 2409 60
19 61 IM Asgarizadeh Ahmad 2407   GM Papp Gabor 2601 23
20 24 GM Kravtsiv Martyn 2599   IM Nezad Husein Aziz 2404 62

Pictures by Amruta Mokal

ChessBase is providing detailed coverage of the Abu Dhabi Masters 2015. The games are being be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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mostafa nobar mostafa nobar 8/25/2015 10:21
really sagar shah? Arabian Gulf?
I know you impressed by Arabs superb hosting of the event and your special invitation , but it isn't best way to show your respect for them.your are a reporter shah not a cultural mercenary.remember! your family name "shah" has a persian origin and meanes "king"...the world was so little do you see?
I just hope this was a made by a typing error and I was wrong. ..
what do you think my lonely Persian Gulf? am I wrong?
Bertman Bertman 8/24/2015 05:15
BTW, dragon fruit as called in the article, is common in Brazil. We also have a variation where the white pulp is dark purple, the color of beets. It is an interesting fruit, but pretty tasteless in my opinion.
pgowez pgowez 8/24/2015 04:37
"Zoltan Almasi the top seed and the only 2700 player in the event" - What about Igor Kovalenko?