Asian Nations Cup 2018: Iran and China on top

by Antonio Pereira
9/1/2018 – The 2018 Asian Nations Cup took place from July 26th until August 4th in the Iranian historical city of Hamadan. Teams from twelve different countries participated in the Open and Women sections. They faced each other in 7-round Swiss Opens in Classical, Rapid and Blitz chess. Iran won all three Open tournaments, while China took first in the Classical and Rapid sections amongst the women — India won the blitz. | Photos: Iranian Chess Federation

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Iranian hat-trick

The tournament kicked off on July 26th with the rapid section. The games started at 9.30 a.m. local time, with three rounds played in the morning and four played after lunch. The Iranians fielded three teams in all sections  — Iran Green, Iran White and Iran Red, using the colours of their flag — except in the women's classical and blitz categories, where they presented two teams. 

The general tone of the event was set in the rapid section, as Iran's first team (Green) in the open section and China in the women section finished ahead of the field. In the Open, China and India completed the podium, while India and Iran (Green as well) finished second and third in the women's section.

The Iranian team led by Ivan Sokolov — Masoud Mosadeghpour, Alireza Firouzja, Parham Maghsoodloo, Pouya Idani, Seyed Mohammad Amin Tabatabaei

Final standings and games - Open Rapid

Rk. Team Team
1 Iran Green IRI
2 China CHN
3 India IND
4 Uzbekistan UZB
5 Iran Red IRI
6 Kazakhstan KAZ
7 Iran White IRI
8 Vietnam VIE
 

Final standings and games - Women's rapid

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 China 14
2 India 10
3 Iran Green 9
4 Uzbekistan 7
5 Vietnam 7
6 Kazakhstan 6
7 Iran Red 3
8 Iran White 0
 

The classical — or standard — section started the next day. Two teams arrived for this competition in the open section: Afghanistan and Syria. Once again, Iran and China dominated the open and women's sections, respectively. India and China tied on 10 match points in the Open, but the Indian squad finished with more individual points, thus taking silver. Amongst the women, Vietnam ended-up in second place and India got third.

The best individual performer in the classical section was Iranian prodigy Alireza Firouzja. The 15-year-old finished on 6/7 and gained 15 rating points. Alireza has had a very successful career so far: he won the Iranian Chess Championship at age 12 and earned his Grandmaster title at the age of 14.

Alireza Firouzja had a great tournament

Final standings and games - Open Classical

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Iran Green 13
2 India 10
3 China 10
4 Kazakhstan 9
  Iran Red 9
6 Bangladesh 7
7 Uzbekistan 7
8 Syria 7
 

Final standings and games - Women's Classical

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 China 13
2 Vietnam 11
3 India 8
4 Uzbekistan 8
5 Kazakhstan 7
6 Iran Green 7
7 Iran Red 2
8 Syria 0
 

The main section finished on August 3rd at 10.00 a.m. and the blitz tournament was played that same afternoon. Iran (Green), China and Vietnam finished in the podium in the open section, while India, Vietnam and China occupied the first three places in the women's division.

A group of winners

Final standings and games - Open Blitz

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Iran Green 14
2 China 12
3 Vietnam 10
4 India 8
5 Uzbekistan 7
6 Kazakhstan 6
7 Bangladesh 6
8 Iran Red 6
 

Final standings and games - Women's Blitz

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 India 13
2 Vietnam 12
3 China 9
4 Kazakhstan 8
5 Iran Green 8
6 Uzbekistan 4
7 Iran Red 2
8 Syria 0
 

Side events

In order to improve their ability to put forth first-class events, the organisers invited Jeroen van den Berg, the man behind the long-standing Tata Steel Chess Tournament. All the arbiters and staff learned first-hand what it takes to put together a tournament that has withstood the test of time.

Arbiters and organisers with Jeroen van den Berg

Also, all participants, delegations and guests joined excursion tours, which were programmed by the organiser Mr. Ali Babaei.

About Hamadan

Hamedan is believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities. It is possible that it was occupied by the Assyrians in 1100 BCE; the Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, states that it was the capital of the Medes, around 700 BCE.

Hamadan is mentioned in the biblical book of Ezra as the place where a scroll was found giving the Jews permission from King Darius to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:2). Its ancient name of Ecbatana is used in the Ezra text. Given the fact that it was a mile above sea level, it was a good place to preserve leather documents. 

Ali Sadr Cave in Hamadan

IA Amir Erfan Hashemi contributed reporting

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Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.
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hansj hansj 9/1/2018 07:22
Were female players forced to cover their hair? If so, the event should have taken place elsewhere, in a free country, where women are respected.
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