First Asian Club Cup in Al Ain

1/12/2009 – Everybody knows that Asian Chess is on the rise, but people tend to concentrate on China and India and ignore upcoming federations like Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam. The United Arab Emirates hosted the first Asian Club Cup in Al Ain, with a total of 30 clubs with 27 grandmasters, representing 24 Asian countries. Report by GMs Adrian Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr.

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First Asian Club Cup in Al Ain

Report by Adrian Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr,
with pictures by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh

In the final days of 2008 the first edition of the Asian Club Cup finally started. The Championship was organized under the patronage of Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of Abu Dhabi Sport Council. But this Event would not have taken place without the efforts and energy (and money), provided by young Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhboot Al Nahyan – President of Asian Chess federation, which is based in Al Ain.


Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhboot Al Nahyan

Al Ain is a big, typical Arabic city in United Arab Emirates (the “Garden City” of the UAE), with a population of about 500,000, creating some sort of triangle with the famous and better known Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Al Ain is located in the desert, on the Oman border (the border was open till some years ago, then closed for political reasons). “Al Ain city is aiming to establish itself as a leading Arabic Sport City.” (Lakhdar Mazouz, FIDE pages), with its fantastic facilities. The competition Arena, the Al Ain Cultural and Sports Club in the centre of the town, is fantastic and provided excellent possibilities for sport competitions and training for many sports, not just for chess.

In Europe we don’t know how Asian Chess is developing, except in China and India. There are other federations which are becoming stronger and stronger: Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, as well as Arab countries, which held their Championship in Sharjah, just before the Al Ain event (the winners were the extremely talented players Salem Abdul Rahman from UAE and Mona Khaled from Egypt). There are 22 Arab countries, with 18 registered Chess Federations. Such big countries as Saudi Arabia and Oman have no registered chess activity!

In Western Asia UAE is a real paradise for chess. There are many chess clubs and a lot of strong GMs working there as trainers (Victor Bologan, Alexey Kuzmin, Elmar Magerramov, Edvins Kengis, Sarhan Guliev are just few of them). Plus in the last years some prominent persons like Sheikh Sultan came to chess. The Sheikh is supported by FIDE General Secretary Hisham Al Taher, Vice President Casto Abundo from the Philippines and Mehrdad Pehlevanzadeh from Iran. The first edition of the Cup gathered 30 teams (plus paid hotel and for some teams even tickets by the Asian Chess Federation).


On the left: Hisham Al-Taher, the "right hand" of Sheikh Sultan in the Asian Chess Federation

“The UAE Leaders are keen to host Asian sporting events to provide opportunities for Asian athletes to create friendship and cooperation ties between them,” Shaikh Sultan said in his opening speech. “We, in the Al Ain Culture & Chess Club, are happy and pleased to host players from 30 clubs, representing 24 Asian countries in our city in a competition which will reflect the progress of the game in the continent. We in Asia are proud to have Anand, the World Chess Champion, in addition to the excellent achievements of the continent’s men and ladies in the international tournaments.”

Later, in the Press conference, he was asked about his future plans in chess and about the idea, to run for FIDE President. “There is such an idea! But, first we have ambitious plans in the Al Ain Club. We have more than 5000 children (!) as a result of our plans to widen our future prospects.”


Sheikh Sultan on the stage


The playing hall


The stage for the top boards


The arbiters

It was an extremely strong competition, with 27 Grandmasters and many other International title holders. Al Ain decided to field two teams. The first of them was put together from players around the world: Sergey Karjakin (2730) and Zahar Efimenko (2680) from Ukraine, Gabriel Sargissian (2643) from Armenia, Baadur Jobava (2664) from Georgia and Li Chao (2622) from China, with proud captain Hisham Al-Taher: “We dedicate this victory to UAE and are delighted with our performance. It was a team effort.”


Sergey Karjakin with Shaik Sultan and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (right)


Captain Al-Taher and local guests following Karjakin’s game


The Champion team – back row: Sergey Karjakin, Hisham Al-Taher, Shaikh Sultan, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Zahar Efimenko, Gabriel Sargissian; front row: Li Chao, Baadur Jobava.

But even such a team wasn’t completely safe – a bitter fight till to the end and just better Buchholz allowed Al Ain to be first ahead of the young Chinese team Qi Yuan Club (Wang Hao, Zhou Jianchao, Zhou Weiqi, Wen Yang), headed by the famous coach Li Zunian. Third was the very strong team Fajr Shams Chess Club from Iran, with Mikhail Kobalia from Russia, Tigran L. Petrosjan and Arman Pashikian from Armenia and the Irani players Ehsan Ghaem Maghami and Morteza Mahjoob.

Final ranking 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
11 5 Chirchik Chess (UZB)
4
0
3
8
102,5 60,0
12 16 Al Muhafaza (SYR)
4
0
3
8
70,5 44,0
13 19 Al Shuolaa (YEM)
4
0
3
8
61,5 44,0
14 10 Rah Ahan (IRI)
3
1
3
7
87,0 52,0
15 18 Peshmerga (IRQ)
3
1
3
7
69,5 49,0
16 20 Lahore Chess Club (PAK)
3
1
3
7
60,0 40,0
17 17 Sport Electricity Club (IRQ)
3
0
4
6
75,5 46,0
18 14 Yemen Chess Club (YEM)
3
0
4
6
57,0 46,0
19 27 Brunei Chess Center (BRU)
2
2
3
6
55,5 37,0
20 24 Tanmiyah Sports Club (LIB)
3
0
4
6
54,0 40,0
21 21 Sri Lanka Chess Club (SRI)
3
0
4
6
43,5 37,0
22 23 Nables (PLE)
3
0
4
6
35,5 37,0
23 12 Sharjah Chess Club (UAE)
2
1
4
5
69,0 44,0
24 22 Bahrain Union Club (BRN)
2
1
4
5
44,5 40,0
25 15 Tajikistan Chess Club (TJK)
2
1
2
5
37,0 41,0
26 28 Afghanistan Chess Club (AFG)
2
1
4
5
36,5 34,0
27 26 Elite Chess Club (NEP)
1
1
5
3
39,5 37,0
28 25 Ilsan Chess Club (KOR)
1
1
5
3
36,0 31,0
29 29 Al Shulah Club (SYR)
1
1
5
3
34,5 34,0
30 30 Jerusalem Chess Club (PLE)
0
2
5
2
25,0 31,0


The first board prize was won by another great Asian talent, Wesley So

GM Wesley So (15 years, 2627, one of the youngest GMs in the world) plays for the Tagaytay Chess Club, Philippines. He collected 5.5 point out of seven (ahead of Sergey Karjakin!), with a performance of 2706 points! Karjakin's performance was 2697, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vietnam) performed at 2697.

There were also two splendid receptions for all participants and guests. The first was given in the palace of Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhboot Al Nahyan, and the second directly in the desert, added by an attractive show of local swingers and moto racers.

The Authors

Adrian Mikhalchishin (54) is a International Grandmaster (Ukraina, Slovenia) and well-known chess trainer (vice-president of the FIDE Trainers Committee). He currently works as the coach for the Turkish Women national team. A highly respected writer on chess he competes regularly at the highest levels.

Georg Mohr (43), Mikhalchishin’s student, is an International Grandmaster from Slovenia, now working as the coach of the highly successful Slovenian national team. Mohr is a chess writer and translator – he is editor of the Slovenian Chess magazine Šahovska Misel and translator of many (mostly Garry Kasparov’s) books into the Slovenian language.

Links

– Second report on Al Ain with games to follow soon –



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