Modern fairy tales

by Alexander Ipatov
4/22/2015 – Playing in the Dubai Open is a bit like entering the world of the "Arabian Nights". However, today's fairy tales are different. The oil hidden under the desert allows the UAE to build gigantic skyscrapers, display fabulous water fountains, and to build hotel palaces on sand. Alexander Ipatov shares impressions of the modern version of "Arabian Nights".

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Arabian Nights

A lot has been written about the Dubai Open Chess Tournament 2015. And it seems obvious, as it is considered to be one of the most prestigious open chess tournaments in the world, isn’t it? Yes, it definitely is. But! Unfortunately, the main reason why the Dubai Open 2015 has been so widely discussed in the media, including CNN, The Telegraph, Guardian, BBC, is not directly related to the outstanding tournament organization or the beautiful games which have been played there, etc, but “thanks to” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, whose iPod with the running Stockfish was found in the bathroom during his game against GM Tigran Petrosian. Here are a couple of links.

The tournament took place at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club from 5th ( day of arrival ) until 16th ( day of departure) of April, 2015. The invited Grandmasters were accommodated in the luxurious 4* JW Marriott, the service standarts and facilities of which can be considered at least equal to any 5-star hotel in Europe. Last December JW Marriott Dubai was recognized as “Best Hotel in the Middle East” according to the North India Travel Awards 2014. With a history of 30+ traveled countries in the past 12 years, I can state that this was the best lodging I have been ever offered as an invited player.

The Marriott in Dubai (Photo: Marriott)

The reception

View from the 2. floor

You need guides to find your way.

Open elevators are not for everyone

Arabian cosyness

Tasty: the lunch buffet

Seafood for dinner

Enjoy your meal!

A few words about the winners of the tournament. Six players tied for first with 7.0/9, but first prize on tie-break went to GM Dragan Solak, my teammate in the Turkish National team. He won only one game with White, but with Black he was merciless: 4.0/4! Second place went to top seed GM David Howell from England, who was very close to beat GM Vladimir Fedoseev in the last round and grab sole first prize. I am sure, we will see David hitting the 2700 mark soon. The same goes for bronze medalist GM Vladimir Fedoseev, an extremely talented player. The other players who scored 7.0/9 were GM Andrei Istratescu, GM Ivan Ivanisevic and GM Eltaj Safarli.


Director and main organiser of the tournament is Yahya Mohamed Saleh (middle),
whose great personal commitment made this top tournament possible.


The residence of the Dubai chess club

The Turkish delegation: Betul Cemre Yildiz, Dragan Solak, Kubra Özturk, Alexander Ipatov

A confident Dragan Solak (center) at the start of the tournament

Kubra Özturk (right)

Tigran "Sherlock Holmes" Petrosian. He revealed the cheating of Nigalidze.

Grandelius vs Howell

Kovalenko, Solak

Indian derby

Shabalov, Zhigalko

Alexander Shimanov

The fifth round is about to begin.

Ivan Ivanisevic

Vocaturo and Fedoseev

Guseinov and Mchedlishvili

Eduardo Iturizaga (left)

Dubai City

Entering the city - Dubai has about 1.6 million inhabitants who own about 1 million cars.

Building boom

Shopping in Dubai

Apart from the traditional souks and bazars more and more shopping malls are built. They offer everything one could wish for - and a bit more.

Spices and cereals




Traditional motifs in the shops of the malls

At coast and harbor

Sailing skyscrapers

On the waterways you see...

... all kinds of ships and boats ...

... small watertaxis...

... yachts...

... and "steam"-boats for excursions

An old galley

Burj al-Arab

The landmark of Dubai

The Burj al-Arab is one of the world's most expensive hotels, and with a height of 321 metres (the Eiffel tower has a height of 324 metres) it is the world's fourth highest hotel building. The building is shaped liked a sail, stands on an artificial island, and was built between 1994 and 1999 for 1.5 billion dollars. The hotel offers 202 suites (the cheapest of which are available for 787 Euro per night). On the 28th floor, at a height of 210 metres, Im 28. Stock, is a helicopter landing site.

"Atlantis, The Palm"

"Atlantis, The Palm" is a megahotel of South African entrepreneur Sol Kerzner. Another hotel of its kind is on the Bahamas. "Atlantis, The Palm" has more than 1.500 rooms on 22 floors. The hotel employs more than 3,500 people and offers a double-room for 530 Euros per night.

Burj Khalifa

Dubai from above

Since 2008 the Burj Khalifa is the world's highest building - with a height of 828 metres. The building has 189 floors, 163 of them can be used. The elevator needs 55 seconds to take its passengers to the observation deck on the 124th floor. On the 148th floor is another observation deck. It took 22 million hours to finish the building.

The observation deck offers a phantastic view.

The author with the Burj Khalifa in the background

Water fountains at the foot of the Burj Khalifa

Dubai Land

Dubai Land is a kind of Disneyland in the desert. Work on the themepark started in 2005, and after a break that started in 2008, work began again in 2013. Calculations expect that the themepark will be finished by 2020.

Entrance to Dubailand

Grandmaster, World Junior Champion in 2012, born in Ukraine and playing for Turkey.


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