First Asian Club Cup – chess in the Garden City

1/15/2009 – The city of Al Ain, with its 600,000 population, is the fourth largest in the United Arab Emirates. It is known as the "Garden City", because of its many parks, tree-lined avenues and decorative roundabouts. Al Ain was host to the First Asian Club Cup, which was duly won by the Al Ain Chess Club A. We bring you a final report By IM Ravi Kumar, with pictorial impressions and annotated games.

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1st Asian Club Cup Champions League 2008

By IM Ravi Kumar

The fertile oasis city of Al Ain lies about 160 kilometres from Abu Dhabi city, with the desert on one side and mountains on the other. It is the capital of Abu Dhabi's Eastern Region.



At the foot of Jebel Hafeet Red stone Mountains are hot springs. The area has been turned green with picnic spots. The springs are diverted along shallow channels – ideal for bathing the feet in steaming therapeutic waters.

The Oasis – right in the middle of the city several acres of greenery with nicely manicured stands of trees are so thick they can block out the sun with the best of deciduous and rainforest growths elsewhere in the world. Local residents pick dates for their personal use in the middle of the city.

The Museum Al Ain Palace Museum is on the road leading to Sunaya. It tells the past of a man who managed to change the dream to a reality and managed to establish a modern state in a short time. Originally, it was a palace belonging to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan when he was the Ruler's Representative in the Eastern Region.

The palace does have a traditional water well, complete with camel stomach for hoisting the water from its underground home to a wash basin.


Al Ain boast of some 400 well maintained roundabout water fountains


Located in a spectacular setting to the south of the city at the base of the Hafeet Mountain...


...is Green Mubazzarah, an Al Ain Fayda resort that offers a variety of leisure activies...


... including picnics in beautifully landscaped gardens with water motifs


The venue: the Al Ain Culture and Chess Club

The city hosted the First Asian Club Cup Champions League which attracted 30 Asian Chess Clubs from 20 countries. The championship was inaugurated by HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nayat, President of the Asian Chess Federation on 25th December 2008. The event was a seven-round Swiss, with each team consisting of four players and a reserve. The prize fund was US $60,000.

Final rankings (top ten after seven rounds)

Rk. SNo Team
  + 
  = 
  - 
 TB1 
 TB2   TB3 
1 1 Al Ain Chess Club A (UAE)
5
2
0
12
168,5 59,0
2 3 Qi Yuan Club (CHN)
6
0
1
12
137,5 54,0
3 2 Fajr Shams Chess Club (IRI)
5
1
1
11
139,5 53,0
4 4 Tagaytay Chess Club (PHI)
5
0
2
10
139,0 58,0
5 6 Vietnam Victory Club (VIE)
4
1
2
9
122,5 56,0
6 11 Mon-Cad (MGL)
4
1
2
9
108,0 50,0
7 13 Galkynysh (TKM)
4
1
2
9
101,5 45,0
8 9 Al Ain Chess Club B (UAE)
4
1
2
9
97,0 48,0
9 8 Club Intchess (SIN)
4
1
2
9
95,0 53,0
10 7 Club India (IND)
4
0
3
8
127,0 55,0

Selection of games

El Taher,Fouad (2480) - Barsov,Alexei (2513) [A00]
1st Asian Club Cup Alain, UAE (2.5), 08.12.1926

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 b6








This is an unusual variation. The idea is to exchange the light coloured bishop and castle queenside. The common variation begins with c5 followed by qc7 and castling, which occured in games by famous Viktor Korchnoi: 6...c5 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 with comlex middlegame play. 7.Qg4 Ng6 8.h4 h5 9.Qg3 Ba6 10.Bxa6 Nxa6 11.Ne2 Qd7 12.a4








Both players have followed theory and Black is aiming for a positional game by attacking the doubled pawns and also positioning a knight on c4. 12...0-0-0 13.Qd3 Kb7 14.Bg5 Rc8 15.a5. With a series of tempo gaining moves White has gained the initiative. His pieces are better placed and he is on the attack against the black king. 15...b5 16.Rb1 c6 17.Ng3 Nf8 18.c4. The critical breakthrough channels White's attack in queen side. 18...Ka8. 18...Nc7 19.cxb5 cxb5 20.0-0 Ng6 21.c3+/=. 19.cxb5 cxb5 20.Rxb5. White now wins a pawn and the castled position is exposed 20...Rc4 21.Rb2 Nb4








22.Qb3 Nh7 23.0-0 Nxg5 24.hxg5 Qc7 25.Rfb1 Nxc2 26.a6 Nxd4. Black has managed to work his way back into the game and now has a slight edge. 27.Qe3. 27.Qb7+ Qxb7 28.Rxb7 h4 29.Nh5 g6 30.Nf6 and a complex endgame follows. 27...h4 28.Nf1 h3 29.gxh3 Qxe5 30.Nd2








30...Qf5? 30...Qxe3 31.fxe3 Rc1+ 32.Rxc1 Ne2+ 33.Kg2 Nxc1 with a complex endgame; 30...Ne2+ 31.Kf1 (31.Kh1 Qxe3 32.fxe3 Rch4) 31...Qxe3 32.fxe3 Nc3 33.Nxc4 Nxb1 34.Nd6 Nc3 35.Rb7+/-. 31.Nxc4 Nf3+ 32.Kf1 dxc4 33.Rb5 Qxh3+ 34.Ke2. Black resigned, 1-0. [Click to replay]


Amin,Bassem (2560) - Abdul,Majeed Mohamad (2252) [A00]
1st Asian Club Cup Alain, UAE (4.7), 08.12.1928

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3. This variation is the trademark of Egyptian grandmaster Bassem. He likes to play unusual positions arising from the Kings Indian Attack, and as Black he plays the Kings Indian Defense as well. 4...b6. 4...c5 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 b5 is the standard line where Black goes for queenside expansion. Some French Defense players also go for castling on queenside to avoid the buildup on the kingside. 5.g3 dxe4. 5...Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.0-0 Be7 8.Re1 Nc6 9.c3 Qc7 10.a3 0-0-0. This is the other plan in this variation. Perhaps Black has mixed up opening ideas and we now are on unusual terrain. 6.dxe4. Rybka already considers the position in White's favour. 6...Bc5 7.Bg2 Bb7 8.Qe2 Nc6 9.e5 Nd4 10.Nxd4 Bxg2 11.Rg1 Bd5. 11...Bb7 12.N4b3 Nd7 13.Nc4 and Black has better prospects. 12.N2b3 Bxd4 13.Nxd4 Nd7 14.Qg4 Nxe5. 14...Qe7 15.Qxg7 0-0-0 16.Qg5 Qc5 also tends to favour Black. 15.Qxg7 Ng6 16.c3 Qe7 [16...e5!] 17.h4








17...f6. 17...c5! Black lost his way by misplaying the middlegame. He should have played e5 or c5 to hit on the knight at d4 which is nicely centralised. 18.Bh6 Qxg7? 18...c5 19.Nb5 Kd7 20.0-0-0 Kc6 is an innovative attempt to maintain dynammic balance. 19.Bxg7 Rg8 20.Bxf6 Kf7 21.Bg5 c5 22.Nb5 Ne5 23.0-0-0 Nf3 24.c4








24...Bc6. 24...Nxg1 25.cxd5 Ne2+ 26.Kd2 Nd4 27.Nxd4 cxd4 28.dxe6+ Kxe6 and we have a balanced endgame. 25.Nd6+ Kg6 26.Rge1 e5. 26...Nxe1 27.Rxe1 Bd7 28.Bf4 Fritz gives this as a balanced endgame. White has ample compensation for the exchange with his knight posted on d6. 27.Re3 h6 28.Ne4 Nd4 29.h5+ Kg7 30.Bf6+








1-0. [Click to replay]


Petrosian,Tigran L (2629) - Karthikeyan,P (2426) [C78]
1st Asian Club Cup Alain, UAE (3.2), 27.12.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.d3 d6 8.c3 h6 9.a4 Rb8 10.axb5 axb5 11.d4 Bb6 12.Na3 0-0 13.Nxb5 Bg4 14.d5 Ne7 15.Bc2 Ng6 16.h3 Bd7 17.Na3 c6 18.dxc6 Bxc6 19.Re1 Ra8 20.Be3 Bxe3 21.Rxe3 Qc7 22.Re1 Nf4 23.Qd2 g5 24.c4 Rab8 25.b4 Rfd8 26.Rab1 Qe7 27.Qe3 Nd7 28.Red1 f6 29.Rd2 Nf8 30.Kh2 N8e6 31.g3 Ng6 32.b5 Be8 33.Rbd1 Bf7 34.Nb1 Nc5 35.Qe2 Kg7 36.Nc3 Qf8 37.Ne1 Ra8 38.Ng2 Ra3 39.Nb1 Ra2 40.Ne3 Be6 41.Nc3 Ra3 42.Ncd5 Qf7 43.Nf5+ Bxf5 44.exf5 Nf8 45.Ne3 Qe7 46.Qh5 Rxe3 47.fxe3 e4 48.Rd5 Ra8 49.R1d2 Ra2 50.Qd1 Nfd7 51.Qb1 Ra3 52.b6 Ne5 53.Rxe5 fxe5 54.f6+ Kxf6 55.Bxe4 Rb3 56.Qf1+ Kg7 57.Bd5 Rxb6 58.Rf2 Ne6








59.Rf6?? A grandmaster blunder. A. Petrosian, who scored well in chess Olympiad and contributed to Armenia's victiory, has played a fine positional game in the Ruy Lopez before finally blundering a rook. 59...Qxf6 0-1. [Click to replay]


Guliev,Sarhan (2490) - Tissir,Mohamed (2463) [D94]
1st Asian Club Cup Alain, UAE (3.9), 27.12.2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.e3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Be2 cxd4 7.exd4 d5. The game started as a simple Queen Pawn Opening and has transposed into a Tarrasch Defense with colors reversed. 8.0-0 Nc6 9.h3 b6. 9...Bf5 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Nf4 13.Bg3 Nxe2+ 14.Qxe2 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Qxd4 16.Rad1 Qc5 is recomended by book. 10.Bg5 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Na5 12.Be2 Bb7 13.Qd2 Rc8 14.Rad1 Nd5. We have an isolated pawn middlegame, and Black proceeds to blockade the pawn. White has active development. 15.Rfe1 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 17.Nxd5 Qxd5 18.Rxe7 Rxd4








White won a pawn with the series of exchanges and now goes on to sacrifice his queen for rook and minor piece. The ensuing initiative leads to a mating attack. 19.Qxd4 Bxd4 20.Rxd4 Qc6 21.Rdd7. Two rooks on seventh rank is a powerful asset. 21...Bc8 22.Rc7 Qd5 23.Bh6 Rd8 24.Ng5








The knight joins the fray and even giving up his rook White manages to weave a mating net. 24...Bd7 25.Rxf7 Qd1+ 26.Kh2 Qd6+ 27.f4 1-0. [Click to replay]

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