Football legend Maradona promotes chess in the UAE

1/25/2012 – Diego Armando Maradona is arguably the greatest football player of all time. He played in four World Cups, and captained the Argentine team that won the title in 1986. Maradona has always been interested in chess, and was glad to be part of a remarkable Chess & Society campaign that is being staged in the United Arab Emirates. Big pictorial report by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh.

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Alain Chess Campaign with Maradona

Report from Al Ain by Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh

The football legend Diego Armando Maradona lent his famous hand to put the final touch in the closing ceremonies of the longest festival in the history – to promote not football but the game of chess.


Maradona graced the festival's closing ceremony, playing the French (1...e6 against 1.e4)

The 40-day long festival was held in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates starting December 2nd, the UAE national day. Under the slogan "We All Love Khalifa" in honor of the UAE President, the Chess and Society Campaign was organized by the Al Ain Chess Club under the patronage of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, president of the Asian Chess Federation.

Maradona, considered one of the best 50 Hall of Fame sports personalities in history, honored the festivities, marking the agreement with the Yellow Empire of Al Wasl Club as the best in UAE sports. The agreement with Maradona has generated a lot of gains and attracted wide international coverage for the country in the field of sports in traditional media and Internet sites.

Hisham Al Taher, Secretary General of the Asian Chess Federation and General Manager of the Al Ain Chess Club, presented Maradona with the official T-shirt featuring the image of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in an unforgettable moment.


Spanish language video of the soccer star playing a Living Chess game against Anatoly Karpov.
There is more video of Maradona doing what he does best at the end of this report


Famous players of the Al Ain Football Club, Omar Abdulrahman and Asamoah Gyan
play an exhibition game in front of Alain Chess Club Players and officials


Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach of the Al Ain football team, beat one of club members on
a lawn chess board. His Football Club is by far the most successful in the UAE!


Al Ain Chess Club members with Al Ain football players and officials

The Chess & Society Campaign was held in many stages across various sectors of the community. The aim was to promote chess around the city and the country, taking chess outside the closed halls. Targeting the entire community in different places brought chess to new areas in the government and private sectors. In order to attract new players and more spectators, the events were held in public places to create a chess climate. The campaign management also conducted seminars for fathers and housewives because because they are strategic partners in the development of children. Around three thousand players and supporters took part in the chess campaign.


A Chess Tournament in the middle of Al Ain Mall, one of the biggest malls in Asia.
This tournament was won by Talal Al Halwani of Syria.


Another tournament at the Zafranaa Bazaar, a place for goods made in the UAE.
This competition was won by Rocky Pabalan of the Philippines.


... and yet another Al Ain Museum, won by Mohammed Al Harmoodi of the UAE.
Visitors to the Al Ain Musuem also played a tournament won by Ail Amini from Bahrain.

The campaign highlighted the benefits of chess for children's development of their mental prowess, decision making, logical thinking, strategic planning and memory exercise, ability to concentrate and handle time management and other personal skills. Instructional brochures were given to spectators, and chess sets and clocks for the winners.


A chess campaign in a city park, in which the members all signed a pledge...


... not to use use mobile phones or text while driving!

All the players in the above pictures are wearing T-shirts with a picture of Diab Awana, the famous football player, who died last September in a car accident in Abu Dhabi. According to reports, the accident happened while he was using his phone.

There were humorous moments as well, like when half the participants at the Bus Station Chess Tournament had to leave after the third round in order to catch their bus. And in the Coffeehouse Tournament, which was won by was won by Kamal Al Najar of Egypt, the players wanted to change World Chess Federation (FIDE) rules to make chess more enjoyable by not using a clock, and more friendly by requiring players to loudly announce the check. And they were against the no smoking rule of FIDE and proposed to allow sheesha during the game. It was a raucous gathering with spectators kibitzing tournament games.


At the Al Ain Airport Tournament among pilots and airport personnel, Duty Manager
Ali Khalifah Al Khitbi was victorious and won the Cup.

There were also lectures on various themes of chess with over 500 attending and playing in the shopping center. Engineer Ahmed Zarouni and International Chess Arbiter Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh lectured about online play and demonstrated how, how to utilize the iPhone and iPad for playing chess, and showed popular chess playing software.


Your reporter Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh received a Cup and Prize from Asian Chess
Federation President Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan (left) and Hisham Al-Taher

Nader Adly, Chairman of the Alexandra Film Festival in Egypt, (second from left above) lectured on chess and cinema. He compared the improvement in cinematography to the improvements in chess and showed how the movie director is like the chess player, both taking care of their pieces and cinema elements. He then showed two movies with chess themes.


The Campaign also staged the Al Ain International Commercial Companies Chess Championship...


... which was won by Mohammed Rasool Khoury and Sons group, which employs the
Armenian national team, winner of the World Team Championship and two Chess Olympiads.

The Gulf Paints company with IM Mehrshad Sharif, IM Imad Abdelnabi and FM Shahin Koohestani (above) came second, with the same number of points as the champions, whome they actually beat in their direct match: Sharif beat GM Akopian, Imad beat Sarkisian, and Shahin beat GM Ni Hua!


Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa, President of Alain Chess Club and the Asian Chess
Federation (middle) at the closing ceremony of UAE Team Chess Championship

Diego Maradona – greatest footballer ever

Diego Armando Maradona is a retired Argentine football player, and current manager of Al Wasl FC in Dubai. Experts consider him to be the greatest football player of all time. He played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, including 1986, where he captained Argentina to win the title, with a victory over West Germany in the final. In the quarterfinal round of that tournament he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England and entered football history for two different reasons. The first goal was via an unpenalized handball known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60 m (66 yd) dribble through six England players, voted "The Goal of the Century".

Maradona scoring his famous "Hand of God" goal in 1986. There are a ton of videos on it here. The world's best player today, Lionel Messi, learnt from his Argentinian predecessor, as we can see in this video.

Above is the "Goal of the Century" with Spanish commentary by the equally legendary Victor Hugo Morales. Again there are a large number of videos on the goal here.

There is a story to be told about the 1986 World Championship. At the time of the final between Argentina and West Germany Garry Kasparov, the freshly crowned World Chess Champion, was visiting us in Hamburg. "Let's go back to the hotel," he told his friend Frederic Friedel, "and get ready to watch the final." – "Why don't we watch it at my home," Fred suggested. "How big is your TV set?" Garry asked, "and what about signal strength?" After making sure that Fred had a larger set than the hotel, with satellite reception and English language commentary, he agreed to watch it at his friend's home. But unfortunatel he had not worked out all of the conditions necessary for a perfect football final. Can you guess what he missed? Only when the match started did he discover, to his horror, that Fred was rooting for the wrong team – Argentine! That, and the fact that the South Americans won the title, spoilt an otherwise perfect event for the chess champion.

Copyright Pahlevanzadeh/ChessBase


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