Jobava juggernaut at Abu Dhabi Masters 2019

by Shahid Ahmed
8/27/2019 – The former Georgia no.1 Baadur Jobava won the 26th edition of Abu Dhabi Chess Festival by scoring 8.0/9. Jobava finished sole first, a full point ahead of the runner-up young Uzbek GM Nodirbek Yakubboev at 7.0/9. Eight player tied for the third place at 6½/9, current World Junior Champion Parham Maghsoodloo secured the second runner-up position due to a better tie-break score. | Photo: Rupali Mullick

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Jobava is back

It is not like that Jobava took a hiatus or anything, but a major tournament win was a long overdue for Jobava. We had an inkling about Jobava making a comeback at the halfway of the tournament when he was leading the Masters group by a half point and finished the Blitz as a runner-up with a score of 9.0/11.

The tournament witnessed 124 titled players including 48 GMs, 7 WGMs, 23 IMs and 10 WIMs out of 150 players from 28 countries with India having the highest number of participants of 76.

Jobava delivered a performance of 2720 at the Blitz event which essentially shows his true strength.

Jobava receives his Blitz prize | Photo: Adchessfestival

Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res.
1 3 89 FM Khouri Ahmed Abbas 1833 UAE 6,0 w 1
2 3 51 IM Njili Kamel 2202 TUN 5,0 s 1
3 3 30 GM Sindarov Javokhir 2443 UZB 6,5 w 1
4 3 24 IM Costachi Mihnea 2517 ROU 6,5 s 1
5 1 15 GM Socko Bartosz 2545 POL 7,0 s ½
6 3 16 GM Vasquez Schroeder Rodrigo 2543 CHI 7,5 w 1
7 1 14 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2546 IND 8,0 s 1
8 1 12 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2579 IND 9,0 w ½
9 2 13 GM Esipenko Andrey 2571 RUS 8,5 s ½
10 2 19 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. 2530 RUS 8,0 w 1
11 1 2 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2729 IRI 9,5 w ½

The Jobava juggernaut started with blitz

Jobava might have made a last round draw against the eventual Blitz champion, however he got his revenge on the following day in the main event.

Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res.
1 26 100 WGM Gomes Mary Ann 2286 IND 4,0 s 1
2 18 69 IM Agmanov Zhandos 2402 KAZ 5,5 w 1
3 9 39 GM Xu Yi 2531 CHN 5,5 s 1
4 2 11 GM Indjic Aleksandar 2617 SRB 6,5 w 1
5 1 3 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2668 UAE 6,5 s 1
6 1 4 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2656 IRI 6,5 w 1
7 1 2 GM Ni Hua 2668 CHN 6,5 s ½
8 1 13 GM Bartel Mateusz 2612 POL 6,5 w 1
9 1 28 GM Yakubboev Nodirbek 2574 UZB 7,0 s ½

Jobava's staggering streak in the main tournament

After an uneventful draw against Ni Hua in the seventh round, Jobava went back to his favourite trustworthy Larsen opening against Polish GM Mateusz Bartel in the eighth round.


Bartel blundered badly with 34...f5, after which it became impossible for Jobava to miss the winning continuation.


Since Jobava was leading by a full point heading into the final round of the tournament against young Uzbek GM Nodirbek Yakubboev, they made a 'Grandmaster draw' according to Yakubboev which guaranteed Jobava the first place. Jobava performing at 2908 could be a sign of things to come.

Jobava talks about his performance, Bruce Lee, Yin-Yang and more | Video: Rupali Mullick

Yakubboev gets a lucky win against Murali | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Nodirbek Yakubboev made a short draw with Russian GM Andrey Esipenko and in the final round against eventual champion Jobava. However, he got extremely lucky in round 8 against Indian GM Murali Karthikeyan who missed an opportunity to get decisive advantage. 


Murali got a few chances before to gain substantial advantage, but after 26.c2, things just turned into Black's favour until he did not realize it and played 26...xb5 instead.


Black's last winning opportunity came after 35.g4 when Murali blundered 35...f4 and lost all his advantage. If he had planned to regroup his pieces on the queenside with 35...♞e4, well things could have been a lot different from what happened.


Yakubboev talks about getting a lucky win against Murali and more | Video: Rupali Mullick

Reigning World Junior champion and Abu Dhabi Blitz winner GM Parham Maghsoodloo made a tepid draw with Turkish GM Emre Can in round 7. His final round game against Ni Hua was also another lacklustre draw arising out of unusual Dutch system. However, in round 8, Parham employed the Bird's opening to surprise the Belarusian GM Aleksej Aleksandrov.


Black's 43...g5 was the point of no return as Maghsoodloo recognized and immediately punished it 44.xg5 which only increased his material advantage and made it unsurmountable.


There were several norms made in this event. Rupali Mullick caught up with few of them for interviews:

Nandhidhaa finally becomes a WGM | Video: Rupali Mullick

India's latest IM Rathanvel won ₹500000 (USD $1,400) by playing a 12-hour long tournament | Video: Rupali Mullick

FM Nitish Belurkar on making his third IM-norm | Video: Rupali Mullick

Senthil Maran makes his maiden IM-norm on his fifth tour at Abu Dhabi | Video: Rupali Mullick

Total ten norms were made in total including seven IM, two WGM, a WIM-norm.

IM-norms: CM Ughur Ilyasli (AZE, 2131), FM Rathanvel V S (IND, 2367), CM Raahil Mullick (IND, 2355), CM Aronyak Ghosh (IND, 2332), FM Nitish Belurkar (IND, 2271), Senthil Maran K (IND, 2222) and M Mahalakshmi (IND, 2173).

WGM-norms: FM Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ, 2375) and WIM P V Nandhidhaa (IND, 2332).

WIM-norms: WFM Tarini Goyal (IND, 2038).

Leko wins both Rapid and Blitz match

Peter Leko beat Alexander Morozevich 5:1 in Rapid and remained undefeated. Morozevich even tried 1.g3 and Bird's in the six-game Rapid Challenge. In Blitz, Leko defeated Morozevich by 6½:3½, where Leko suffered his only loss in the final game in the Blitz Challenge.

Leko triumphs over Morozevich in Abu Dhabi Challenge 2019 | Photo: Adchessfestival

Indian domination in the Junior section

All top five positions in the Junior section was won by Indians. FM Pranesh M scored unbeaten 8.0/9 to win it. Three players finished at tied second with 7½/9, they are CM Kushagra Mohan, FM L R Srihari, FM Aaryan Varshney respectively.

Pranesh with his champion's trophy, medal and prize | Photo: Rupali Mullick

All Masters games


Final standings in Masters (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Jobava Baadur 8,0
2 Yakubboev Nodirbek 7,0
3 Maghsoodloo Parham 6,5
4 Socko Bartosz 6,5
5 Indjic Aleksandar 6,5
6 Salem A.R. Saleh 6,5
7 Petrosyan Manuel 6,5
8 Bartel Mateusz 6,5
9 Ni Hua 6,5
10 Tabatabaei M.Amin 6,5
11 Aryan Chopra 6,0
12 Zubov Alexander 6,0
13 Karthikeyan Murali 6,0
14 Sengupta Deep 6,0
15 Can Emre 6,0
16 Abdusattorov Nodirbek 6,0
17 Esipenko Andrey 6,0
18 Santos Latasa Jaime 6,0
19 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 6,0
20 Vaibhav Suri 6,0

Complete standings


Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.


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