India wins Gold at Asian Games chess

12/19/2006 – Chess was officially included as a medal sport in the 15th Asian Games, a magnificent spectacle that was staged in Doha, Qatar. The top seeded Indian team took Gold quite easily, with China taking Silver and, here's the surprise: a strong Iranian team securing Bronze. Big illustrated report by Chief Arbiter Casto Abundo.

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Chess a Medal Sport at the Asian Games

By Casto Abundo, Chief Arbiter, 15th Asian Games, Doha 2006

Chess was officially included as a medal sport in the Asian Games, 1-15 December 2006 in Doha, Qatar. Three gold medals were at stake for a Rapid Chess Individual Competition for Men and for Women, and for the Mixed Team Championship in the standard time control.


The openings ceremony of the 15th Asian Games in Doha: torchbearer Sheikh Muhammad Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar makes his way to light the flame inside the stadium

Being part of the Games meant that participating chess teams were fully funded by their National Olympic Committees. Chess gained high profile in the extensive media coverage of the Games around Asia and chess players were candidates for financial bonuses and endorsement deals should they win medals for their countries.


It's not all chess. Sepideh Sirani of Iran in the Women's shooting 75m trap target

It was an uphill struggle for Qatar Chess Federation president Khalifa Al Hitmi to get chess into the Games. Armed with International Olympic Committee recognition of chess as sport he managed, but with a reduced format of a mixed team.

Twenty-one countries signed up with two men and one woman who would play in both the Individual Competitions and in the Mixed Team Competition. Competition Manager (i.e. tournament director in chess lingo) Yousif Ahmed Ali of Qatar explained at the Asian General Assembly in Turin that this was the format agreed with the Doha Asian Games Organizing Committee (DAGOC) who were concerned about limiting the numbers of athletes, particularly since all players in chess would be present from beginning till end of the Games unlike other sports using the knockout format. There were some 15,000 foreigners who descended upon Doha for the Games.


The Indian juggernaut: GMs Koneru Humpy, Pentala Harikrishna and Krishnan Sasikiran (playing against former FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov).

This was the first time the Games were held in an Arab country and Qatar spent an estimated $3 billion to stage what was billed as “The Games of your Life.” For chess, they had new electronic boards and paraphernalia which would become property of the Qatar Chess Federation. They were ready to host the maximum 40 teams. Only twenty-one came, and Yousif Ahmed Ali expressed his disappointment: “Everyone should do their share in bringing chess into the Games.”

All participation was through the respective National Olympic Committees (NOC). National Chess Federations had to make representation with their NOCs. The Japan Chess Association was originally not included by their NOC but after representation by Asian Chess Federation President Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan, the Japan chess team made it to the Games.


The Chinese team, with Zhao Xue, Wang Yue and Bu Xiangzhi.

It was doubly important for the Chinese chess team to make a good impression for their NOC since Guangzhou, China shall host the next Asian Games in 2010. They fielded Turin first board Bu Xiangzhi and Chinese top scorer Wang Yue. Women’s Turin first board Zhao Xue completed the formidable mixed team.

The first event was individual competition with Rapid Chess, three rounds per day in three days. Players came for one round in the morning at 11 am, returned to the Athlete's Village for lunch and came back at 3 p.m. for two rounds in the afternoon. The restaurant at the Athlete’s Village was open 24 hours a day. Only accredited athletes could enter the village which had recreational facilities including a cinema.


The Irianian team: Atousa Purkashian, Elshan Moradiabadi and Ehsan Ghaem Maghami

In the men’s division, Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan, sixth seed behind the Indians and Chinese, was among the leaders throughout. In the final round he beat top seed Krishnan Sasikiran to earn the gold with 7.5 points followed by GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam and GM Bu Xiangzhi of China at 7 points each for silver and bronze, respectively.

In the women’s division top seed was Humpy Koneru of India, in her last year as the highest rated U20 girl in the FIDE rating list. She romped through the first five rounds beating second seed, former women’s world champion Zhu Chen, in the fifth round. After an upset in round six at the hands of third seed Chinese Zhao Xue, Koneru won all three remaining games to win the gold with 8 points, followed by Zhao Xue with 7.5 for silver and Zhu Chen with 6 points for bronze.


The surprisingly strong Iranian team, with Honorary FIDE President Florencio Campomanes: from left, Atousa Pourkashian (an extraordinary talent), Elshan Moradiabadi, Campomanes, Iranian Chess Federation President Dr. Mohammad Ebrahim Maddahi, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, Captain IM Khosrow Harandi and FIDE Delegate Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh.

In the Olympics and Continental Games, the victory ceremony follows immediately after in each sport. The platform for 1st, 2nd and 3rd were brought to the center of the hall facing the spectator stands, Asian Chess Federation President Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan of the UAE awarded the medals and the national anthem of Kazakhstan was played in the men’s ceremony, and of India in the women’s ceremony.


The flags of of the winning teams: India, China and Iran, raised to the accompaniment of the national anthem of India. Many Indians among spectators sang their national anthem.

After a rest day, the team competition began. Men played on the first two boards, women played each other on board three. There were no reserves. India began with a 2.5:0.5 onslaught against Mongolia, blanked Turkmenistan. 3:0, edged Qatar 2:1 and crushed Vietnam 2.5:0.5. Everyone pinned their hopes on China to stop the Indian juggernaut in round five. Instead India shocked China, blanking the Olympiad runners-up 3:0. India followed up with another 3:0 shutout over Uzbekistan’s former world champion Rustam Kasimjanov and GM Aexei Barsov. India did not rest there and continued to smash Iran and Indonesia by similar 2.5:0.5 slates. Only Kazakhstan in the last round managed to hold India to a 1.5-all draw.


Medal bearers during a medal ceremony

In the homestretch focus shifted to the race for silver and bronze. A nine round Swiss for only 21 teams results in almost a round robin among the top teams. Nothing was clear going into the last round as seven teams had chances. China with 15.5 was ahead, but close behind were Qatar with 15, Kazakhstan with 14.5 and four teams tied at 13.5 points each.


The 40 theives dance on huge barrels during the Closing Ceremony

China beat Bangladesh 2:1 on the strength of Zhao Xue over an outclassed Akter Shamima as the two GM’s drew to clinch silver with 17.5 points. Kazakhstan’s draw with India put them in contention with 16 points. Iran saw their chance as GM Elshan Moradabiadi won a lucky game against Mohamd Al Sayed of Qatar. The loss seemed to bother Zhu Chen who fell victim to a combination by Atousa Pourkashian. Only one game was left between Ehsan Ghaem Maghami and Mohamad Al-Modiahki. Ghaem pressed their Bishop and pawn endgame to beat Qatar 3:0 for bronze.


A mignificent view of the stadium during the Closing Ceremony

Final team rankings

No. Team
+
=
Pts.
BH. MP
1 India
8
1
0
22.5
134.5 17
2 China
6
1
2
17.5
140 13
3 Iran
4
3
2
16.5
140 11
4 Kazakhstan
5
2
2
16
135.5 12
5 Indonesia
4
2
3
16
134.5 10
6 Qatar
5
0
4
15
140.5 10
7 Bangladesh
4
2
3
14.5
126 10
8 Philippines
2
4
3
14.5
110 8
9 Uzbekistan
4
1
4
14
140 9
10 Mongolia
4
1
4
14
123.5 9
11 Turkmenistan
4
1
4
13.5
131.5 9
12 Syria
4
2
3
13.5
112 10
13 SriLanka
4
1
4
13
87.5 9
14 United Arab Emirates
3
3
3
12.5
107.5 9
15 Jordan
3
3
3
12.5
104 9
16 Vietnam
4
1
4
12
129.5 9
17 Bahrain
4
1
4
11.5
90 9
18 Palestine
2
3
4
11
88.5 7
19 Japan
3
2
4
10.5
91.5 8
20 Nepal
4
0
5
10
91 8
21 Macau
1
0
8
3
98 2


The Gold medal team: Krishnan Sasikiran, Koneru Humpy and Pentala Harikrishna


Qatar Chess Federation President Khalifa Al Hitmi presents silver medals to the Chinese team: GM Bu Xiangzhi, GM Wang Yue and WGM Zhao Xue

Individual Men's Rapid Chess (top scorers)

No. SNo.   Name Rtg FED Pts
1 6 GM Kazhgaleyev Murtas 2609 KAZ 7.5
2 10 GM Dao Thien Hai 2557 VIE 7.0
3 4 GM Bu Xiangzhi 2671 CHN 7.0
4 3 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2672 UZB 6.0
5 7 GM Sadvakasov Darmen 2596 KAZ 6.0
6 5 GM Wang  Yue 2644 CHN 5.5
7 13 GM Moradiabadi Elshan 2539 IRI 5.5
8 20 IM Laylo Darwin 2448 PHI 5.5
9 12 GM Nguyen Anh Dung 2541 VIE 5.5
10 14 GM Barsov Alexei 2537 UZB 5.5
11 2 GM Harikrishna P. 2674 IND 5.5
12 11 GM Al-Modiahki Mohamad 2550 QAT 5.5
13 1 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2675 IND 5.5
14 19   Annaberdiev Meilis 2457 TKM 5.5
15 21 IM Dableo Ronald 2425 PHI 5.0
16 9 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan 2581 IRI 5.0
17 16 GM Megaranto Susanto 2492 INA 5.0


Asian Games medalists in the individual men's section: Silver medalist Dao Thein Hai of Vietnam, Gold medalist Murtas Kazghaleyev of Kazakhstan and Bronze medalist Bu Xiangzhi of China

Women's Rapid Individual Ch.2006

No. SNo.   Name Rtg FED Pts
1 1 GM Koneru Humpy 2545 IND 8.0
2 3 WGM Zhao Xue 2467 CHN 7.5
3 2 GM Zhu Chen 2501 QAT 6.0
4 5 WIM Pourkashian Atousa 2329 IRI 5.5
5 8 WGM Geldyeva Mekhri 2273 TKM 5.5
6 4 WGM Mongontuul Bathuyag 2383 MGL 5.5
7 10 WIM Sabirova Olga 2230 UZB 5.5
8 9 WFM Sukandar Irine Kharisma 2239 INA 5.5
9 6 WGM Nguyen Thi Thanh An 2312 VIE 5.0
10 15   Methmali Yasoda 1895 SRI 5.0
11 7 WIM Aketaeva Dana 2312 KAZ 4.5
12 18   Docena Jedara 0 PHI 4.5
13 11   Akter Samima 2096 BAN 4.5
14 13   Mir Mahmoud Afamia 1983 SYR 4.5
15 12 WIM Jamalia Natalie 1988 JOR 4.0
16 16 WFM Saleh Nora Mohd 1879 UAE 4.0
17 19   Jaradat Shadia 0 PLE 3.5
18 14   Nakagwa Emiko 1933 JPN 3.5
19 20   Khamboo Mona Lisha 0 NEP 3.0
20 21   Mutaywea Aysha 0 BRN 3.0
21 17   Chan Sin. I 0 MAC 1.0


Women's Asian Games medalists: Silver medalist Zhao Xue of China, Gold medalist Koneru Humpy of India and Bronze medalist Zhu Chen of Qatar, with Asian Chess Federation president Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nehyan (right)

Pictures by courtesy of the Iranian web site http://www.iranchess.ir/ and the Asian Games web site.

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