Prize winners at the Abu Dhabi Masters 2015

by Sagar Shah
9/5/2015 – In our previous report we brought to you annotations and an interview with the winner of the Abu Dhabi Masters 2015, Nils Grandelius. But four other players had the same number of points and took places second to fifth on tiebreaks. Martyn Kravtsiv was the runner-up, with Baadur Jobava, Alexander Areshchenko and Richard Rapport following behind. Pictures and games annotations.

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 Prize winners at the Abu Dhabi Masters 2015

Report from the tournament venue by IM Sagar Shah

The Abu Dhabi Masters was held from the 23rd to 31st of August 2015 in the capital city of UAE. 120 players from as many as 35 countries, with 44 grandmasters, participated in this event. 22 players had a rating of more than 2600. It was s a nine round Swiss tournament with the rate of play being one hour 30 minutes + 30 seconds increment per move. There were ten prizes and they were not shared. The winner took home US $12,000. This is the final report. You can read the previous articles on this tournament here. It ended with the following results:

Top final rankings (after nine rounds)

Rk. SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB2   TB3  w-we rtg+/-
1 12 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2628 7.0 2609 53.0 1.92 19.2
2 24 GM Kravtsiv Martyn UKR 2599 7.0 2601 53.5 2.16 21.6
3 5 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2664 7.0 2596 51.5 1.24 12.4
4 7 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2661 7.0 2565 50.0 1.11 11.1
5 4 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2671 7.0 2550 48.0 0.86 8.6
6 27 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2595 6.5 2571 48.5 1.44 14.4
7 22 GM Prohaszka Peter HUN 2602 6.5 2553 45.5 1.09 10.9
8 10 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2647 6.5 2529 46.0 0.37 3.7
9 17 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2619 6.5 2517 49.0 0.53 5.3
10 13 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2625 6.0 2584 50.5 0.78 7.8
11 3 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2697 6.0 2574 48.5 -0.19 -1.9
12 19 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2617 6.0 2568 49.5 0.60 6.0
13 9 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2647 6.0 2556 45.5 0.14 1.4
14 15 GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2623 6.0 2526 47.5 0.16 1.6
15 37 GM Vaibhav Suri IND 2552 6.0 2526 45.0 0.91 9.1
16 16 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2620 6.0 2504 46.5 -0.13 -1.3
17 6 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2664 6.0 2489 44.5 -0.67 -6.7
18 2 GM Almasi Zoltan HUN 2700 6.0 2479 43.0 -1.06 -10.6
19 18 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2618 6.0 2455 43.0 -0.56 -5.6
20 48 IM Sadzikowski Daniel POL 2480 6.0 2359 40.0 -0.07 -0.7

Martyn Kravtsiv played a fine tournament with wins over strong players like Kuzubov, Jones and Gupta. He gained 21 Elo points and had a rating performance of 2780. Although he played solid and high quality chess throughout, one cannot deny that fortune favoured him at a very critical juncture of the tournament – the penultimate round against Abhijeet Gupta.

[Event "22nd Abu Dhabi Int. Chess Festival Mas"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.30"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Gupta, Abhijeet"] [Black "Kravtsiv, Martyn"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D56"] [WhiteElo "2619"] [BlackElo "2599"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2Q5/5ppk/8/p5P1/1q1P3P/2p1P2B/P1b2P2/6K1 w - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2015.08.23"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] {White is clearly better, he is two pawns up. True that the c3 pawn is quite dangerous, but there is a very clear way of dealing with it. White can make the pragmatic decision of exchanging the bishops with Bf5 after which he can never lose. Instead Gupta played very ambitiously.} 37. h5 $6 (37. Bf5+ $1 Bxf5 38. Qxf5+ Kg8 {White has a draw in hand and can now try with} 39. h5 $1 {with the threat of g6. Black should play} Qc4 {when after} 40. Qc2 $16 {White has excellent chances of converting this position.}) 37... Qb1+ 38. Kh2 Be4 {At this point White should have gone for Bg2 and accepted a draw, but instead he completely forgot about the mate to his own king and picked up the c3 pawn.} 39. Qxc3 Qh1+ 40. Kg3 Qf3+ {As Gupta said after the game that he had completely forgotten about this move. All he was looking at was Qg1 when he could have gone Kf4. It's mate in two now and hence he resigned.} 0-1


The creative genius from Georgia, Baadur Jobava, had a rating of 2727 just a few months ago. He is now down to 2664. But a victory in HZ tournament in Holland in the first week of August and now a third place in the Abu Dhabi Masters means that he is on 2683 and clawing his way back to the top. With renewed motivation and the impending birth of his son in a week or two from now, Baadur is the man to watch out for.

Jobava's final round game against Tigran Petrosian started as a quiet English Opening. In spite of having the white pieces Petrosian clearly misplayed the opening and was left with quite a passive position. Baadur executed a beautiful pawn sacrifice and before you even knew it, the game was over! Have a look at this interesting battle:

[Event "22nd Abu Dhabi Int. Chess Festival Mas"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.31"] [Round "9.3"] [White "Petrosian, Tigran L"] [Black "Jobava, Baadur"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A05"] [WhiteElo "2623"] [BlackElo "2664"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2015.08.23"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [WhiteClock "0:01:18"] [BlackClock "0:47:59"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O O-O 5. c4 d6 6. Nc3 e5 7. d3 c6 8. Bg5 Be6 9. Rb1 Nbd7 10. Nd2 a5 11. a3 h6 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 d5 15. Qc2 Qe7 16. Rfc1 h5 17. b5 h4 18. bxc6 bxc6 19. Rb6 Rfc8 20. Rcb1 hxg3 21. hxg3 {Diagram [#] We join the action after 21 moves. Baadur has a clearly favourable position and Tigran is struggling to get in any typical English like queenside play. Jobava now begins an attack on the white king with his next move.} Ng4 $1 {The f2 pawn is definitely the weak spot in White's position.} 22. e3 {Here Black comes up with a very attractive solution.} e4 $1 {Jobava has a nice pawn sacrifice planned.} 23. dxe4 (23. d4 $15 {was much safer if Petrosian knew what Jobava was up to. But here too Black is clearly better.}) 23... d4 $1 {A cool little move which was either missed or underestimated by Petrosian. Black has a nearly won game now.} 24. Nd1 (24. exd4 Bxd4 $19 {[%csl Rf2][%cal Gd4f2,Gd4b6]}) 24... dxe3 25. Nxe3 Nxe3 26. fxe3 {[%csl Rc4,Re3,Re4,Rg3] Look at White's pawn structure - a complete wreck.} Be5 {Firmly blockading the e-pawn so that the bishop on g2 remains passive.} 27. Nf1 Qc5 28. R6b4 Kg7 $1 {Such moves are a sign of a great player. What does this move achieve? Nothing much - it clears the h-file, the king is in a much better position for any possible endgames, and most importantly it puts the ball back in White's court to find a move.} 29. Qf2 Ra3 30. Rb7 Qxc4 {The litte guy on c6 now turns into a winner.} 31. R1b4 Qa2 32. Qf3 Ra7 33. g4 c5 34. R4b6 Rxb7 35. Rxb7 c4 {The pawn keeps moving ahead and there is absolutely nothing that White can do.} 36. g5 c3 37. Rb5 c2 {A very nice victory for Baadur who had nearly 47 minutes left on his clock as opposed to his opponent's 30 seconds at the end of the game.} 0-1

The little c-pawn’s march forced White’s resignation

A consistent performer, Alexander Areshchenko scored 7.0/9 and was
the only person to beat the eventual tournament winner Nils Grandelius.

Fifth place, Richard Rapport. Just 19 years old and he is already one of the most exciting players in the world. Things were going just perfectly for this Hungarian prodigy until March 2015. Then came the horrid month of April when Rapport bled rating points profusely. He lost 17 Elo points at the Aeroflot open and then 21 at the World Team Championships 2015. Before he knew it, he was down from 2710 to 2671. A further 21 points loss at Biel brought him to 2649. 7.0/9 at the Abu Dhabi Open helped Richie to gain back nine Elo points. There is absolutely no doubt that he is a world class player and this event might just be the one he needed to resurrect his career.

Rapport’s final round game against Dariusz Swiercz was filled with ups and downs. First Rapport had a nice opening edge, but later his opponent equalized, only to make a few mistakes and hand back the advantage to the Hungarian. Just when it seemed it was all over and Rapport would win the game, he gave Swiercz a chance to obtain the half-point with a perpetual check. With very less time on the clock Swiercz missed the draw and went on to lose the game.

Richard Rapport vs Dariusz Swiercz – in the game between two of the most talented
youngsters in the world it was Rapport who had better control over his nerves and won the game

[Event "22nd Abu Dhabi Int. Chess Festival Mas"] [Site "Abu Dhabi"] [Date "2015.08.31"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2671"] [BlackElo "2617"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "143"] [EventDate "2015.08.23"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [WhiteClock "0:01:17"] [BlackClock "0:00:33"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 e6 4. c4 h6 5. Bxf6 Qxf6 6. Nc3 c6 7. Bd3 g6 8. f4 Bg7 9. Nf3 O-O 10. O-O Qe7 11. Qe2 dxc4 12. Bxc4 c5 13. d5 Bxc3 14. bxc3 exd5 15. Bxd5 Be6 16. c4 Re8 17. Rae1 Nc6 18. Qd2 Rad8 19. e4 Qf6 20. h3 Nd4 21. Ne5 b6 22. Qf2 h5 23. Re3 Kh7 24. Kh1 Rg8 25. Ra3 a5 26. h4 Qe7 27. Re3 Qf6 28. a4 Rge8 29. Ree1 Qg7 30. Kh2 f6 31. Nf3 Nxf3+ 32. gxf3 f5 33. Rg1 Qf6 34. Qg3 Re7 35. Rd1 Rf8 36. e5 Qf7 37. Rg2 Rfe8 38. Qg5 Rd7 39. Rgd2 Red8 40. Kh3 Qg7 41. Rd3 Qf8 42. Rg1 Rg7 43. Rb1 Bxd5 44. Rxd5 Rb8 45. Qg2 Qe8 46. Qc2 Rd7 47. Rbd1 Rbb7 48. Qb3 Re7 49. Rd8 Qf7 50. Qb5 Kg7 51. R1d5 Kh7 52. R5d6 Re6 {Diagram [#] White has been nursing a pretty substantial advantage from the late middlegame. Here he converts it into a winning one with a help of a small combination.} 53. R8d7 Rxd7 54. Rxd7 Re7 55. Qc6 $1 Rxd7 56. e6 $1 {With this little pawn fork, the game is already over.} Qf6 57. Qxd7+ Kh6 58. e7 {The pawn is just one square away from queening but Black tries his last chance to give a perpetual.} Qa1 59. Kg2 (59. e8=Q $2 Qh1+ 60. Kg3 Qg1+ $11) 59... Qa2+ 60. Kg3 Qa1 61. Kf2 $1 {Rapport has calculated that his king can run away from the checks.} (61. Qd2 Qg1+ $11) 61... Qb2+ 62. Ke1 Qb4+ (62... Qc1+ 63. Qd1 $1 Qe3+ 64. Qe2 $18) 63. Kf2 (63. Qd2 {was the easiest to win as after} Qxa4 {White has the only winning move in} 64. Qd1 $3 Qb4+ (64... Qe8 65. Qd8 $18) 65. Kf2 Qb2+ 66. Qe2 $18 {This was not an easy variation to see.}) 63... Qb2+ 64. Ke1 Qb4+ 65. Kd1 $2 {The problem with this move is that Black has a way to make a draw now. Swiercz begins with the right move.} (65. Qd2 $18) 65... Qb3+ $1 66. Kd2 Qb2+ $2 (66... Qb4+ $1 {It is necessary to stay in touch with the c-pawn and prevent Ke3.} 67. Kd1 (67. Ke3 $2 Qe1+ $19) 67... Qb3+ 68. Ke2 (68. Ke1 Qe3+ $11) 68... Qxc4+ $1 69. Ke3 Qc3+ 70. Qd3 Qe1+ 71. Qe2 Qg1+ $1 72. Kd2 Qd4+ $11 {and the game very surprisingly ends in a perpetual.}) 67. Ke3 Qa3+ ({Much more difficult to break, although still losing, was} 67... Qb3+ 68. Qd3 Qxa4 69. Qd8 Qb3+ 70. Kf2 Qb2+ 71. Ke1 (71. Kg3 Qa1 $11) 71... Qc3+ 72. Qd2 Qh8 73. Kf2 (73. Qe2 Qe8 $11) 73... a4 74. Kg3 a3 75. Kg2 a2 76. Qxa2 $18) 68. Ke2 Qa2+ 69. Ke1 Qa1+ 70. Qd1 Qh8 71. Kf2 Kh7 72. Qd7 {A very typical nervous last round.} 1-0

The man in form and the reigning Asian Champion Salem Saleh scored crucial victories
in the last two rounds against Yuriy Kuzubov and G. N. Gopal to finish sixth

With wins over Zbigniew Pakleza and Eduardo Iturrizaga, Peter Prohaszka (above) played a fine event, gaining ten Elo points and finishing seventh. Peter is a full-time chess professional. He left his academic studies in order to devote more time to the game.

After a string of not so great events, Gawain Jones is back in good form finishing eighth.
You can read about his experience in Abu Dhabi from this article he has written on his blog.

Abhijeet Gupta was going strong at 5.5/7 when he blundered and got mated in two moves against Martyn Kravtsiv (check the replay board above) in a drawn position. He was immediately compensated for it in the last round when in a drawn endgame his opponent, GM Debashis Das, blundered his queen in just one move. You win some, you lose some – that’s what chess is all about! 6.5/9 and ninth place for the Indian grandmaster.

A tenth place finish and 6.0/9 for Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli was a good achievement considering that
he did not play the first round (he received half point) as he was playing in the Portugal Team Championships.

IM Haridas Pascua (2447) from Philippines faced six players above 2600 and scored an amazing
3.5/6 against them. It did not come as a surprise that he made a GM norm in this event.

There was no special prize for the best women player in the tournament, but if there was one, then it would have gone to GM Harika Dronavalli (above), who scored 5.5/9. Harika beat all her lower rated opponents and drew five out of the six games against higher rated players, including Gawin Jones, Alexander Kovchan, Salem Saleh, Gabor Papp and Evgeny Romanov. A very solid performance.

Sanan Sjugirov scored 9.5/11 to win the Abu Dhabi Blitz tournament which was held on the free day. He received US $1000 for this feat. There were two more prizes which were won by Aleksandr Rakhmanov ($700) and Yuriy Kuzubov ($500).

The open tournament (below 2000 Elo) was won by Turan Asgarova
from Azerbaijan. She scored 8.0/9 and received US $2000.

Vijay Kumar was in Abu Dhabi and made lovely daily video reports which you can find below:

Round seven

Round eight

Round nine and closing ceremony

Daily live commentary was done by GM Dmitri Komarov. Below you can find the commentary of the last round. Commentaries of other rounds over here.

We asked you in our previous article who this unknown sweater man was.

And the right answer is: GM Zoltan Almasi

Part three with players, personalities and sights of Abu Dhabi will be published soon.

Pictures by Amruta Mokal

ChessBase is providing detailed coverage of the Abu Dhabi Masters 2015. The games are being be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Omoplata Omoplata 9/6/2015 09:09
Nice reports and analysis Sagar Shah; its good to see high quality tournament reports and I like that you always show respect for the players. Hope to see you covering more tournaments on Chessbase.