Dubai: Three players lead after four rounds

by Sagar Shah
4/11/2015 – Not the ones in our thumbnail, but David Howell, Nils Grandelius and Yuri Solodovnichenko, all with perfect 4.0/4 scores. Sagar Shah, our reporter in Dubai, tells us what it is like to face a stronger player, equipped with precise calculation and sense of initiative: 'When you lose and you don’t really know where you went wrong it means that there is something to be learnt from that game!'

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The 17th Dubai Open Chess Tournament is being run from 5th – 16th April 2015 at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, with players from at least 43 countries competing for the prestigious Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup – nine rounds Swiss, time controls: 90 min + 30 sec per move start from move one. The total prize sum is US $50,000, with the winner receiving $12,000. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 18 placers, with additional prizes for local and Arab players and for the top women scorers.

Three players lead at the 17th Dubai Open

By participating reporter IM Sagar Shah

Three players lead with a perfect score at the 17th Dubai Open at the end of the fourth round: David Howell, Nils Grandelius and Yuri Solodovnichenko. Top seeds have shown great performances in the initial rounds in almost all the big open events this year. Nakamura started off perfectly at the Gibraltar and so did Mamedyarov in Reykjavik. In Dubai, it is David Howell who is sitting pretty at the top with 4.0/4.

David has been impressive, dispatching strong players like IM Sayantan Das (2439),
Jaan Ehlvest (2547) and Sergey Volkov (2602)

In round three David was paired against GM Jaan Ehlvest and gave a perfect example of how to unsettle one’s opponent using psychological tricks. He repeated twice on two occasions and then changed his move. This was not taken well by his experienced opponent, who then decided not to repeat the position and started playing ambitiously. Within a few moves Ehlvest made the decisive error! Learn from the top seed:

[Event "17th Dubai Chess Open"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2015.04.08"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Ehlvest, Jaan"] [Black "Howell, David W L"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2547"] [BlackElo "2686"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1r3k1/1p1npp2/1p1p1bpp/3P4/8/P1P2N2/1P2BPPP/R2R2K1 w - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2015.04.06"] {Nothing much is going on in this position. White has a nominal advantage of a better pawn structure, but the b6-pawn is almost impossible to attack. The position is equal but not drawn.} 19. Rd2 Nc5 20. Rad1 Nb3 21. Rd3 Nc5 22. R3d2 Nb3 23. Rd3 h5 $1 {Very interesting tactic by Howell. He gives his opponent some hope of a draw by repeating the position and then changes his move.} 24. g3 Nc5 25. R3d2 Nb3 26. Rd3 Kg7 {Once again! This idea doesn't really alter the evaluation of the position but it can be enough to upset the opponent.} 27. h3 Nc5 28. Re3 {Ehlvest who has played at the highest level doesn't like being at his opponent's disposal. He too decides to play for a win. But isn't this exactly what Howell wanted?} Na4 29. Rd2 Rc5 30. Re4 b5 31. Rb4 $2 {Ehlvest makes a very critical mistake and Howell takes full advantage of it!} Nxc3 $1 32. bxc3 Bxc3 33. Rd3 (33. Rxb5 Rxb5 34. Bxb5 Bxd2 35. Nxd2 Rxa3 {would be clearly in Black's favour.}) 33... Bxb4 34. axb4 Rc1+ {Black's extra pawns and rooks work very well together. Howell plays this part of the game flawlessly and converts his advantage into a full point.} 35. Kg2 Ra2 36. Re3 Rcc2 37. Kf1 Kf8 38. Ne1 Rcb2 39. Nd3 Rb3 40. f4 Rc2 41. f5 gxf5 42. Bxh5 Rc4 43. Bd1 Ra3 44. Bf3 Rxb4 45. Kf2 Rd4 46. Nf4 Rd2+ 47. Be2 b4 {A nice win showing very nice psychological understanding of the game by David Howell.} 0-1

Yuri Solodovnichenko scored a win against his higher
rated opponent Gadir Guseinov to move to 4.0/4

The game between Solodovnichenko and Guseinov was very interesting. Firstly Guseinov employed a highly dubious opening and ended with a worse position right after the first few moves. Later, he fought back and the game was heading towards a draw when he sacrificed a piece unnecessarily to complicate the matters. Yet the position was within the realms of a draw. A final blunder sealed Guseinov’s fate. Here’s the topsy turvy battle:

[Event "17th Dubai Chess Open"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2015.04.09"] [Round "4.6"] [White "Solodovnichenko, Yuri"] [Black "Guseinov, Gadir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B23"] [WhiteElo "2584"] [BlackElo "2606"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2015.04.06"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 {This has been proved previously to be unsound.} ( 3... cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. e5 Nc6 {is the better way to play.}) 4. dxc5 $1 { Solodovnichenko chooses the most precise way to get an advantage.} Qa5 (4... Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 {is a possible way to play, but then White has the strong move} 6. Qd4 $1 $14 {with a clear edge.}) 5. Bd2 $1 Na6 (5... Qxc5 {is now met with the very strong} 6. Nd5 $1 $16 {Threatening moves like b4 or Bb4 followed by Bb5. White is just better.}) 6. Nd5 (6. Nb5 {was also quite strong.} Qd8 7. Bc3 Bxc3+ 8. Nxc3 {Apart from being a pawn up, White is better developed and has an excellent game.} Nxc5 9. Qd4 $18) 6... Qxc5 7. Nf3 e6 8. Bc3 (8. b4 {is the computer's suggetion. For human's it is not so easy to make this move.}) 8... Kf8 $1 {Now Guseinov plays quite accurately and gets not only a playable position but also equalises the game.} 9. Bxg7+ Kxg7 10. Nc3 Nf6 11. Qd4 { After the queen exchange Black has absolutely no problems. But it was already not so easy to show any concrete way for White to gain an advantage.} Qxd4 12. Nxd4 Nc7 13. e5 Ng4 14. f4 f6 15. Nf3 fxe5 16. fxe5 b5 17. Nxb5 Nxb5 18. Bxb5 Rb8 $11 {Black has comfortably equalised.} 19. a4 a6 20. Bd3 Rxb2 21. Ke2 Bb7 22. Rhb1 Rxb1 23. Rxb1 Bxf3+ 24. gxf3 Nxe5 25. Bxa6 Ra8 26. Bb5 g5 27. c4 Nxc4 $2 {Quite a shocking decision. I cannot understand why Guseinov made such a sacrifice. Maybe he was too depressed with his position or he assessed the resulting position to be drawn? I think the former. Even though objectively this might be a draw, it is very difficult to defend as Black.} (27... Kf6 { was a very normal choice. Though White has the outside passer it is extremely difficult for him to advance his pawns.}) 28. Bxc4 Rxa4 29. Bb5 Ra7 30. Kf2 Rb7 31. Kg3 h5 32. h4 Kf6 33. Kh3 d5 34. Kg3 e5 35. Kh3 Rb8 36. Rb2 {The position is currently equal, but now Guseinov makes the critical mistake.} Rb7 $2 (36... e4 $11) (36... Rb6 $11) 37. hxg5+ Kxg5 38. Rg2+ Kf4 (38... Kf6 39. Bc6 {loses a very important pawn.}) 39. Bc6 Rb1 40. Bxd5 {The pawn is lost and the bishop gets a nice home on e4. The rest is just a formality.} Rh1+ 41. Rh2 Rc1 42. Kh4 Rg1 43. Rh3 Rg7 44. Be4 Rg8 45. Rh1 Rg5 46. Rf1 1-0

Gadir Guseinov, expert in Accelerated Dragon opening, had a bad day at the office

The young Swedish talent Nils Grandelius on 4.0/4

Nils has an attacking style of playing the game that is feared by many. In the third round, I got a first-hand experience of his precise calculation and sense of initiative when he beat me in a very fine style. Look how he combines play on all the sides of the board and finishes off the game very accurately.

Nils Grandelius vs Sagar Shah in Round 3: sometimes when you lose and you don’t really know
where you went wrong means that there is something to be learnt from that game!

[Event "17th Dubai Chess Open"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2015.04.08"] [Round "3.7"] [White "Sagar, Shah"] [Black "Grandelius, Nils"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2458"] [BlackElo "2603"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2015.04.06"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 b6 5. Nc3 Bb7 6. d5 Na6 7. Bg2 Nc5 8. Nd4 e5 9. Nc2 a5 10. e4 d6 11. O-O O-O 12. b3 Ne8 13. Rb1 f5 14. a3 Nf6 15. Bg5 Qd7 16. Bxf6 Rxf6 17. b4 axb4 18. axb4 Nxe4 19. Nxe4 fxe4 20. Bxe4 Qf7 21. Ne1 Rf8 22. Nd3 Bc8 23. Qd2 h5 24. Rfc1 h4 25. Rc2 Bg4 26. Qg5 Bf5 27. Bxf5 gxf5 28. Qxh4 Rg6 29. Qh3 f4 30. Re1 b5 $1 {A wonderful undermining move.} 31. Qg2 bxc4 (31... Qf5 {might have been better.} 32. Qe4 Qh5 $1 {And next up his Rh6 followed by f3 with an almost winning attack.}) 32. Rxc4 f3 33. Qf1 Qxd5 34. Rxc7 e4 35. Nc1 Qf5 36. Nb3 d5 37. Nc5 Be5 38. Rb7 Rh6 (38... Bxg3 $1 {Even this sacrifice on g3 wins but the point is very nice.} 39. hxg3 Rh6 $3 {The threat is Qh5 and there is no way to stop it.} (39... Rxg3+ $2 40. fxg3 f2+ 41. Kg2 Qf3+ 42. Kh3 {And there is no way to mate the white king.}) 40. Rxe4 (40. Nxe4) 40... dxe4 41. Qc4+ Kh8 42. Qd4+ Qf6 43. Qxf6+ Rfxf6 {The position is very difficult to assess with less time but Black is completely winning because of the weak back rank and the threat of e4-e3.} 44. Nxe4 Ra6 45. Rb8+ Kg7 46. Rb7+ Kg6 $19) 39. Nxe4 {A final attempt to simplify the position to some extent but it is refuted.} dxe4 (39... Kh8 $3 {According to computer wins but can even Magnus Carlsen find a move like this?}) 40. Qc4+ Qe6 $1 {An accurately calculated simplifying move. The queen exchange looks detrimental to Black's interest but Nils has looked beyond the surface.} (40... Kh8 41. Qxe4 $11 {leads to an equal position with three pawns for a piece and no real threats.}) 41. Qxe6+ (41. Qxe4 Qh3 42. Qd5+ (42. Qc4+ Kh8 $19) 42... Re6 $1 $19 ) (41. Rxe4 Rc8 $1 42. Qxe6+ Rxe6 {is similar to the game.}) 41... Rxe6 42. Rxe4 {At this point with very little time on the clock I was very happy with my position. I thought as if the worst was over for me. But it was not!} Rd8 $1 43. Re1 (43. Rg4+ {was the best defence but still falls short.} Kf8 44. h4 Rd1+ 45. Kh2 Rf1 $19) 43... Bxg3 $1 {The back rank is just too weak.} 44. Rb1 Bf4 45. Kf1 Bxh2 {Rg6 followed by Rg1 is just unstoppable.} 0-1

Incidentally the last time that Nils beat me was in Golden Sands 2013, in the third round, and he went onto win the tournament. Maybe a similar fate awaits him in Dubai! The opening chosen by Nils chose against me in the above game was the very fashionable Double Fianchetto from the black side. The moves go 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 b6!? This opening has been dealt in quite some depth by Georgios Souleidis in the latest issue of ChessBase Magazine.

ChessBase Magazine 165

Languages: English, German
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Tournament player, Professional
€19.95 or €16.76 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU) $17.74 (without VAT)

Highlights: Wijk aan Zee, Gibraltar, Baden-Baden, Zürich, FIDE Grand-Prix Tbilisi, plus eleven Opening articles with new repertoire ideas. These include

Georgios Souleidis: Double Fianchetto A50: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7
6.0-0 0-0



Order ChessBase Magazine in the ChessBase Shop

Standings after round four

Rk. SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1 
1 1 GM Howell David W L ENG 2687 4.0 7588
2 17 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2613 4.0 7370
3 27 GM Solodovnichenko Yuri UKR 2584 4.0 7203
4 2 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2674 3.5 7561
5 6 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2657 3.5 7515
6 3 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2665 3.5 7484
7 11 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2630 3.5 7463
8 19 GM Solak Dragan TUR 2602 3.5 7453
9 16 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2614 3.5 7340
10 23 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2595 3.5 7320
11 25 GM Papp Gabor HUN 2589 3.5 7306
12 35 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2500 3.5 7261
13 46 IM Pourramezanali Amirreza IRI 2433 3.0 7480
14 7 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2642 3.0 7475
15 20 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2602 3.0 7472
16 36 GM Idani Pouya IRI 2499 3.0 7461
17 18 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2606 3.0 7403
18 51 GM Laxman R.R. IND 2409 3.0 7317
19 10 GM Iturrizaga Eduardo VEN 2632 3.0 7286
20 8 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2638 3.0 7229

Saturday, 11th of April has two rounds, and the morning game is especially interesting as two talented youngsters take on each other on the top board.

Winner of 12th edition of Dubai Open, Eduardo Itturizaga is on 3.0/4

Local boy Saeed Ishaq (2200) is on 2.0/4 but has already scored two victories over grandmasters

Turkish players Kubra Ozturk, Alexander Ipatov and Betul Yildiz at the Dubai Open 2015

IM Iva Videnova from Bulgaria is the official coach of Dubai Chess Club

WGM Nino Maisuradze is doing extremely well, already gaining 20 Elo points …

… while her better half Alexander Fier is on 2.5/4

GM Daniele Vocaturo from Italy lost the first round but is now back on track with three wins

The well spaced-out playing hall

Pictures from the official facebook page

Addendum: after round five there are five players in the lead with 4.5 points: David Howell, Vladimir Fedoseev, Nils Grandelius, Andrei Istratescu and Alexander Shabalov – followed by twelve players with 4.0/5. With so many players vying for the first prize of US $12,000, the rest of the tournament promises to be pretty spectacular.

Results and rankings after five rounds


The games are being 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 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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