15-year-old leads Abu Dhabi Masters

by Albert Silver
8/26/2014 – The Abu Dhabi Chess Festival is now in its 21st edition, and shows no sign of losing steam, with great conditions. The festival is comprised of a wide variety of tournaments for all strengths and groups, including tournaments for the military and police, or Media and Journalists. After six rounds, 15-year-old IM Murali leads over 32 grandmasters. Report, pictures and videos.

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There are the expected events such as the Master Tournament reserved for players rated 2000 and above, and to ensure the largest turnout possible, the organizers offered any player rated 2500 and above free accommodation in a five-star hotel. 

The tournament venue is the five-star Sofitel Hotel

It is a nine-round swiss with a generous purse with $10 thousand for first place, $7000 for second, and so on. The top seed is Chinese GM Wang Hao (2730), followed by Ukrainian Yury Kryvoruchko (2708), and no fewer than 32 grandmasters out of 70 titled players.

Simul by Wang Hao

GM Wang Hao gave a simul to players and fans

It was a rare treat to play against one of the top players in the world

Blitz tournament

The Blitz tournament brought over a hundred players, though some players avoided it to save
their energy for the main opens

The blitz was well enjoyed by the aficionados, and brought a $1000 first prize

A young fan follows the frenzy at the end

Vijay Kumar brings a video report of the Blitz competition

After six rounds 15-year-old Indian IM Murali Karthekeyan leads together with Russian GM Sergey Volkov with 5.0/6, though the young Indian enjoys the higher tiebreak. Murali's result so far has been nothing short of phenomenal, and it is not just that the 2462-rated player has a stupendous 2783 performance, but that it was achieved playing five grandmasters including wins over Alexander Areshchenko (2684) and Yury Kuzubov (2667). He will face co-leader Volkov in round seven.

Of note in the Main tournament is Iranian WIM Mitra Hejazipour (2268),
who is enjoying a spectacular 2519 performance, including two wins
over grandmasters

Video of the Opening Ceremony and first round (courtesy of Vijay Kumar)

Video of round four (courtesy of Vijay Kumar)

In a dramatic round six, 15-year-old IM Murali Karthekayan beat GM Kuzubov to take the lead
(courtesy of Vijay Kumar)

In parallel to what can be considered the main attraction, there are also an Open Tournament for players rated under 2000, a Junior Tournament for players under sixteen years old, a Blitz tournament for aficionados, and also a Media and Journalists tournament, limited to journalists needless to say, and even a Homeland protector's tournament reserved to members of the military and police!

Junior Tournament

Lost in thought as he writes down his move

Sometimes criticized for gender segregation, in chess tournaments there seems to be none

Some young players come dressed in traditional garb...

...while others continue the tradition of wearing shirts of their heroes, in this case Lionel Messi

Abu Dhabi City Tour

On the rest day, the players were invited to a tour of the city and some sites. One was the
fun Ferrari World.

There they were able to enjoy many of the historic cars by Ferrari

They were also taken to the Sheikh Zayd Mosque. It is the largest mosque in the United
Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It is large enough to accommodate
over 40,000 worshipers. The main prayer hall can accommodate over 7,000 worshipers.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's design and construction "unites the world", using artisans
and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey,
Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates.

More than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction
of the mosque. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to
their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.

The construction is full of beautiful lines, combining traditional and modern
architecture styles

A view inside with a combination of natural and artificial light

Pictures from the official tournament Facebook page

Standings in Masters after six rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB 
1 34 IM Karthikeyan Murali IND 2462 5.0 2630
2 18 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2583 5.0 2536
3 2 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2708 4.5 2579
4 14 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2602 4.5 2550
5 11 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2626 4.5 2542
6 21 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2558 4.5 2542
7 22 GM Horvath Adam HUN 2536 4.5 2511
8 6 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2641 4.5 2500
9 25 IM Barnaure Vlad-Victor ROU 2513 4.5 2340
10 7 GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2641 4.0 2527
11 5 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2656 4.0 2527
12 4 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2667 4.0 2510
13 8 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2638 4.0 2501
14 16 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2591 4.0 2498
15 24 GM Vaibhav Suri IND 2521 4.0 2481
16 9 GM Pashikian Arman ARM 2631 4.0 2471
17 23 GM Abasov Nijat AZE 2527 4.0 2458
18 28 GM Neverov Valeriy UKR 2498 4.0 2456
19 17 GM Iordachescu Viorel MDA 2589 4.0 2454
20 19 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU 2574 4.0 2438
21 3 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2684 4.0 2435
22 1 GM Wang Hao CHN 2730 4.0 2426


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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