Asian Chess Clubs Champions League

by Sagar Shah
6/26/2014 – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has currently become the hub of chess in Asia. After successfully conducting the Asian Continental 2014 and the world rapid and blitz 2014, the country is now holding the Asian Chess Clubs Champions League in Al-Ain, the second largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, from the 20th-28th of June 2014. Report after round four.

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Asian Chess Clubs Champions League

Eight teams are participating in the event which is a round-robin affair. The teams are fighting for the total prize fund of $20,000. There are three prizes of $10,000, $6,000 and $4,000.

The tournament has the strong backing of sponsors which include Abu Dhabi Sports council, Abu Dhabhi Tourism and Culture authority, and Etihad airways. The palatial Danat Hotel is the official hotel of the tournament.

The Danat Hotel is a five star luxury spa hote, a treat for the participants

The Indians have sent the team called PSPB (Petroleum Sports Promotion Board) which is the strongest team in the event. It has a rating average of 2586.

K.Sasikiran (2669) is the only 2600+ player in this event. He is currently on 2.5/4.

The other team that is extremely strong is the second seeded all-GM team of Tokkata (Kazakhstan) headed by Rinat Jumabayev with an average rating of 2534.

Rustam Khusnutdinov (2482) is clearly the heaviest scorer for the Tokkata
team, chalking up 4.0/4 with a nice win over GM Lalith Babu (2561).

The Chinese haven’t really sent their strongest players. The Shanghai Chess club headed by GM Zhou Jianchao has a rating average of 2437.

GM Zhou Jianchao (2586) is another strong GM participating in this event. He is on 2.5/4

The Tagaytay Chess Club (Philippines) which won the Asian Cities Chess Team Championship last year in Tagaytay, is headed by IM Rolando Nolte and has an average rating of 2385.

IM Yap Kim Stevens (2419) is the striker for the Tagatay Chess Club. Not only has he scored 2.5/3, but both his wins are against GMs and one of them against the top seed of the event GM Krishnan Sasikiran.

The Bangladesh Navy Club team follows with an average rating of 2372 and is headed by GM Enamul Hosain.

GM Enamul Hossain (2424) from Bangladesh is on 1.5/4

The host Al Ain Chess Club is next, with an average rating of 2362. GM Salem A.R. Saleh (2581) is by far the strongest player ever to play chess from the country of UAE. He is on 2.5/3.

The Western Sydney team of Australia follows with an average rating of 2336 and is headed by IM Max Illingworth.

IM Gary Lane (2354) is currently the best player for the Western Sydney team
with a score of 1.5/4 which shows that the team is performing quite poorly.

The lowest rated is the Iraq team of Communication Sport Club with 2322 average and headed by IM Saad Sarsam. They won the West Asian zone 3.1 Club Cup last year in Amman, Jordan. The Iraqi team was unable to reach Al-Ain on schedule, due to some problems in their country. As a result they missed the first two rounds. However, these two rounds will be played on the rest day, 25th June against Al Ain chess club at 9.00 AM and Tagatay Chess Club at 3.30 PM.

Round one

Day one witnessed quite a huge upset. The top seeds and favourites of the event Team PSPB from India were held to a 2:2 draw by the Tagatay Chess Club from Philippines. While Sethuraman and Lalith Babu won their games against Nolte Rolando and Pascua Haridas, IM Yap Kim Stevens provided the boost for the Filipino team with a win against GM Sasikiran. The draw was ensured when GM Deep Sengupta (2536), rated 200 points above his opponent, lost to Emanuel Senador (2337). Meanwhile the Kazakhi team made short work of Western Sydney team to win with 4:0. Shanghai Club (China) won against Bangladesh Navy Chess Club with a score of 3:1.

There were two games that saw very nice combinations.

[Event "2014 Asian Club Chess Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.06.21"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Yap, Kim Steven"] [Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "2419"] [BlackElo "2669"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rb3/4qkp1/p1p1pp1p/8/4Q3/1P2R2P/PBP2PP1/7K w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2014.06.21"] {The opening was interesting and about equal, but the Indian GM was outplayed in the middlegame by his 250 points lower rated opponent. Now the youngster finished off the game with a flourish.} 29. Bxf6 $1 gxf6 (29... Qxf6 30. Rf3 $18) (29... Kxf6 30. Rf3+ Kg5 31. Qg4#) 30. Qh7+ Kf8 31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. Rg3 {and there is no real good way to stop either Qg7 or Rg7#} 1-0

[Event "2014 Asian Club Chess Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.06.21"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Lane, Gary W"] [Black "Ismagambetov, Anuar"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "2354"] [BlackElo "2519"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4r2p/5bp1/pk6/2p1R3/2P1B1P1/1P2K2P/8 w - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2014.06.21"] {The position is about equal and with the exchange of rooks the game would have ended in a draw. However Gary Lane decides to retain the rooks and believe it or not it's losing by force.} 39. Rg4 $4 {It's black to play and win. See if you can calculate till the end.} g5 $1 {The idea is very simple. To trap the rook with h5.} 40. Kf3 h5 41. Re4 g4+ 42. Kf4 Bg5+ $1 43. Kf5 Rxe4 44. Kxe4 Bxe3 45. Kxe3 Ka4 46. Kd2 (46. Kd4 Kb3 47. Kc5 Kxb2 48. Kxc4 a4 $19) 46... Kb3 47. Kc1 {And now for a theme which Dvoretsky calls as widening the beachhead. The a pawn will create more space for the black king.} a4 $1 48. Kb1 a3 49. bxa3 Kxa3 {The pawn ending is utterly lost as the c3 pawn will fall. A nice foeced sequence which started on move 39 with a rook and bishop on board and ended on move 49 with a pawn ending.} 0-1

Round two

One of the most important match-up of this round was between the two favourites PSPB from India and Kazakhstan Tokkata. The Indians, after their minor upset in the first round, came back strongly and scored a resounding 3-1 victory. The Chinese were able to beat Australian team and thus take the lead with four match points. Philippines were paired against Iraq, a match which will be played on the rest day.

Sethuraman won the round two game with a very nice attack against GM Petr Kostenko.

[Event "Asian Club CUp 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.06.22"] [Round "2.13"] [White "Kostenko, Petr"] [Black "Sethuraman, S.P."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A37"] [WhiteElo "2484"] [BlackElo "2576"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r3rk1/pp1q2b1/2npb2p/2pNpnp1/QPP5/P2P2PP/3BP1BK/1R2NR2 b - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:03:46"] [BlackClock "0:11:42"] {Sethuraman has a nice harmonious position and he uses that in his favour to launch a decisive attack on the weakened white king.} 19... e4 $1 (19... Nxg3 $1 {would also have been strong.} 20. Kxg3 e4 $19) 20. dxe4 Nxg3 $1 21. Rxf8+ ( 21. Kxg3 Be5+ $19 {would have ended the game quite quickly.}) 21... Rxf8 22. Nd3 Nxe2 $19 {Black has won a pawn and the white king is totally weak. The rest is not very interesting.} 23. Rf1 Rxf1 24. Bxf1 Ned4 25. Be3 Qf7 26. Qd1 Nf3+ 27. Kg3 Ncd4 28. Be2 Qh5 29. Bxf3 Qh4+ 30. Kg2 Bxh3+ 31. Kg1 Qg3+ 32. Kh1 Nxf3 33. Qe2 Bg2+ 0-1

GM S.P. Sethuraman is currently one of the best performers in the tournament scoring 4/4 points.

Round three

The leaders China were held to a draw by Al Ain team. That meant that there was a three-way tie at the top between India, Philippines and China. The Indians and the Philippines became the leaders after their wins against Australia and Bangladesh respectively. Kazakhstan beat Iraq with a resounding score of 3.5-0.5, but their loss in the previous round to India meant that they could only make a comeback to the top if other teams faltered.

A miniature game was played in this round between GM Khusnutdinov and FM Ali Ghazi Al-Saadi in which the latter blundered as early as move three!

[Event "Asian Club Cup 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.06.23"] [Round "3.8"] [White "Khusnutdinov, Rustam"] [Black "Ali, Ghazi Al-Saadi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D07"] [WhiteElo "2482"] [BlackElo "2122"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "1:13:40"] [BlackClock "1:09:23"] {This was a really small game being decided in just ten moves.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 {The Chigorin Defense, one of the favourite weapons of Alexander Morozevich.} 3. Nf3 Bf5 $2 {Already as early as move three the Iraqi player goes wrong.} 4. cxd5 $1 Qxd5 (4... Bxb1 5. dxc6 Be4 6. cxb7 Bxb7 7. Qa4+ c6 8. e3 $18 {is a pawn up for nothing.}) 5. Nc3 Qa5 6. Bd2 $1 {The black queen on a5 starts feeling uncomfortable.} Bg4 7. d5 $1 Bxf3 (7... Nb8 8. Ne5 Bc8 9. e4 $18 {It's just the perfect picture. All of Black's pieces are ready for the next game!}) 8. exf3 Ne5 9. Nb5 Qb6 10. Be3 Qa5+ {The recorded game ends here. Maybe the Iraqi player understood that he would be totally lost after 11.b4! and hence resigned the game.} 11. b4 $18 Qxb4+ 12. Bd2 Qc5 (12... Qb2 13. Bc3 $18) 13. Rc1 $18 1-0

It was not one of the best days in the chess career of FM Ali Ghazi Al-Saadi (2122) of Iraq

Round four

The last round before the rest day turned out to be quite a crucial one, as a clear leader was found. China and Philippines who were the two leaders at the end of round three faced each other. They drew their match and that gave an opportunity for the Indian team to zoom ahead. This opportunity was fully exploited as they scored a 4:0 victory over the Iraqi team. Kazakhstan too had a great round and beat Bangladesh with a score of 3.5:0.5.

As things stand at the end of round four, India is leading with a score of 7.0/8. China, Kazakhstan and Philippines are in second position with a score of 6/8. This is with the assumption that Philippines will beat Iraq on the rest day, 25th June.

With three more rounds to go the Indians look all set to win the title as they have already played two strong teams in the form of Kazakhstan and Philippines. The only opposition which looks like a real threat are the Chinese.

WGM Zhang Xiaowen (2383) from China is the only woman player in this tournament

GM from Kazakhstan: GM Pavel Kotsur (2558)

FIDE Vice President, D.V. Sundar and Asian Chess Federation Deputy President Casto
Abundo keenly watch the match between PSPB India and Iraq Communication

Pictures from official tournament website


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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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