18th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival

by ChessBase
8/28/2009 – This event is not just about the hundred or so players who compete for the $30,000 prize money. It gives the participants an opportunity to get a feel for the Arabian culture, to meet the people and see their way of life. Fortunately we have a diligent reporter with a good camera and a great eye for visuals, who sent us this massive pictorial report. Impressions by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh.

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18th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival

Report by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh

Nineteen GMs headed the field of some one hundred players in the Swiss System Open section of the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival, which ran from August 12 to 21, 2009. This is the 18th year of its existence, and the event offered a total of $22,000 in cash prizes in the Open, Junior age groups, Scheveningen and Blitz tournaments. More prize funds awaited them in the Armed Forces Club Sportsfest Rapid Chess Championship, also in Abu Dhabi, which followed immediately after, offering a total of $30,000 in cash prizes. The festival was held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Hazaa bin Zayed Al Nahyan,chairman of Abu dhabi Sports Council.

Football star of UAE and Asia Ismail Matar is checkmated (poster)

Ismail challenges the best UAE student (poster)

Tournament venue - the modern Aljazeera Sport Club

A fisheye
view of the tournament hall

Top final ranking (6.0/9 and higher)

Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg
TB2  TB3 
1 GM Aleksandrov Aleksej BLR 2616
40.5 41.25
2 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2559
44.0 37.00
3 GM Anastasian Ashot ARM 2566
42.5 39.75
4 GM Andriasian Zaven ARM 2585
42.0 41.25
5 GM Savchenko Stanislav UKR 2526
40.5 34.25
6 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2530
39.5 38.00
7 GM Amin Bassem EGY 2551
41.5 36.75
8 IM Laxman R R IND 2501
41.0 32.00
9 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan   IRI 2589
40.5 35.50
10 GM Kengis Edvins LAT 2543
40.0 36.00
11 GM El Gindy Essam EGY 2501
39.0 28.25
12 FM Saeed Ishaq UAE 2188
39.0 26.50
13 GM Drozdovskij Yuri UKR 2620
38.5 34.00
14 GM Filippov Anton UZB 2583
41.0 34.50
15 GM Bocharov Dmitry RUS 2613
40.5 33.50
16 GM Ovetchkin Roman RUS 2548
40.5 32.25
17 GM Simonian Hrair ARM 2520
39.0 33.00
18   Antonio Viani D'Cunha IND 2107
39.0 27.75
19 GM Sturua Zurab GEO 2513
38.5 27.00
20 WGM Zdebskaja Natalia UKR 2412
38.0 30.75
21 CM Sanal Vahap TUR 1976
37.5 30.00
22   Nirmal E P IND 2268
37.5 29.00
23 WGM Galojan Lilit ARM 2338
36.5 30.75
24 IM Adu Oladapo NGR 2276
36.0 21.50
25 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa IRI 2304
35.5 28.25
26 IM Illijin Neboisa ROU 2246
33.5 23.50
27   Dargan Paul A G ENG 2141
31.0 22.00

Asian Chess Federation president Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan was the guest of honor at the closing ceremony.

Awarding the cup and medal to the tournament winner: from left, Mohammad Al Mahmood, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nehayan President of the Asian Chess Federation, Ibrahim Al Bannai, President of the Arab Chess Federation, champion GM Aleksey Alexandrov, Saif Nasser Al Suwaidi Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chess Club and Ismail Khoury Tournament Director

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 International Chess Festival last week in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Aleksandrov got off to a quick start with three points in the first three rounds, beating local hero GM Saleh Salem of the UAE. His winning streak was stopped by GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia but Aleksandrov recovered with a string of wins over two FMs and IM R. Laxman of India.

Going into the last round, GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia led the field alone with seven points and was paired with second-running Aleksandrov who was tied at 6.5 points with GM Ashot Anastasian of Armenia. Aleksandrov beat Rakhmanov for the trophy while Anastasian was held to a draw by GM Yuri Drozdovskij of Ukraine.

Second: GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia, 2616, 7.0/9 points

Third: GM Ashot Anastasian of Armenia, 2566, 7.0/9 points

Fourth: GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia, 2585, 7.0/9 points

Fifth: GM Stanislav Savchenko , Ukraine, 2526, 7.0/9

Sixth: GM Hrant Melkumyan of Armenia, 2530, 7.0/9 points

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.

In the junior event, 64 players from 11 countries took part together in a nine-round Swiss for four age groups, Under-9, 11, 13 and 15. Doting parents and coaches accompanied their wards and children.

18th: Antonio Viani D'Cunha of India, 2107, 6.0/9 managed to pick up a first IM norm

21st: the very talented CM Sanal Vahap of Turkey, 1976 6.0/9 points

In the Under-9 age group, Moza Al Mansouri of the UAE topped the event with five points, winning the tie over compatriot Mohammed Marshool. Three players tied with six 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. M. Vigram of India topped the Under-13 age group with 8 points followed by Mostafa Abdulwahab and sultan Marshool of the UAE. John Axel Valerio of the Philippines 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.

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 Buchholz tie break over Rakhmanov.

Analyzing a game in the Arabian tent, which was set up...

... inside the tournament hall, to make some of the locals feel at home

IM Vasilij Gagarin of Russia scored highest in the Scheveningen match with 7.5 points out of nine games. Four players followed with 7.0 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.

There are many sponsor for the Abu Dhabi Chess Club but the newest is the Etisalat Company that is one of the largest Communication companies in the world and has offered sponsorship of Abu Dhabi Chess Club players!

Zuhair Ahmed  Technical Secretary , Ibrahim Al Marzooqi Marketing Manager and Hussein Khoury Finance Director of Abu Dhabi Chess Club

Abu Dhabi Chess Club Finance Director Hussein Khoury oversaw the organization with the able assistance of Tournament Director Ismail Khoury 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.

Tournament manager Hussein Khoury speaks with a journalist from Al Kaas TV of Qatar

Ladies in Competition

WGM Maria Manakova (the more faithful of our readers are sure to remember her)
is a Russian player with Serbian FIDE ID, who played in the Scheveningen match

Eisa Khoulod, champion of UAE U16, also played in the Scheveningen match

WGM Zdebskaja Natalia (best woman in the Festival) shared top three in the Blitz

Simul and quiz for Juniors

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 a puzzle contest organised by Mehrdad Pahlavenzadeh of Iran.

National hero of UAE GM Salem Abdulrhaman giving a simul – in the picture he is
looking at his position against Muze Mansoori, the Arab U10 Champion

Test your power of calculation! How many short ways of four moves are there for the knight to go from c3 e5? It's not easy at all! Maybe impossible blindfold! Only three players could solve this, after hours of thinking (a problem for the chess youth by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh).

Local arbiter for the juniors Hend Mohamad with players Saeed Khoury and Heba Alali

Tour to Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The players were also treated to tours of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque with its 24-carat gold lining and $3 million silk carpet. Non-muslim women visiting the Mosque, such as WGM Natalia Zdebskaya, were lent the Arabic black robes and scarf to wear inside.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, built in 2007, is the sixth largest mosque in the world

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the sixth largest mosque in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who is also entombed there.

Top seed GM Yuri Drozdovskij with his newly wed wife Natalia, who like the other
ladies had to wear an Islamic black robe to enter in the Mosque

The world's biggest carpet in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque holds a number of world records: The carpet laid out on the vast expanse is the world's largest carpet, made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200 weavers, 20 technicians, and 30 workers. The weight of this carpet is 47 tons – 35 tons of wool, and 12 tons of cotton. There are 2,268,000 knots in the carpet.

There are 1096 Columns in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, all marble with golden tops

One of the
84 beautiful domes of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, from the inside

This mosque also holds the largest chandelier. There are seven imported chandeliers from Germany made of copper and gold-plated. The largest chandelier has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.

Tour to Emirates  Palace in Abu Dhabi

Players were also taken on a tour of the plush Hotel Emirates Palace which according to the New York Times, is reputed to be the most expensive hotel ever built. You can scroll the following picture horizontally to get a full impression of the size of the hotel.

The costs of building the Emirates Palace was three billion USD. The hotel occupies 850,000m² of floor space. Underground parking allows housing for 2,500 vehicles. There are two swimming pools and spas. The hotel has its own marina and helipad.

Looking up: the beautiful geometrical ornamentation of the central dome

Players on tour of the Emirates Palace

Overall, the hotel has 302 rooms and 92 suites, with 16 "Palace Suites" on the sixth and seventh floors. 22 three-bedroom suites are reserved for hosting many heads of state and their guests. The cost of staying begins at $400 per night for the Coral Room (floor space of 592 square feet). The Palace Grand Suite (7,319 square feet) is the most expensive, at $11,500 per night.


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