Qatar Masters and the amazing Doha (2/2)

by Alina l'Ami
12/12/2014 – In spite of the overwhelming wealth of Doha, the luxuriousness manages to sidestep any feelings of arrogance as described by Alina L'Ami in the second part of her report. However the conditions were superb attracting an incredibly strong lineup featuring world-class players who rarely step outside the circuit of round robins. That they did made possible the thrilling finish.

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I feel unsure about how to put the dot on the 'i', to grasp the essence of the place, since my stay in Qatar was too short for that, but it was enough to overstep the frontiers of my imagination... Whereto and when did the days fly away, were they swallowed by a desert storm? I realize that I have experienced only the modern part of Doha, without getting a chance to dedicate time to the traditional safari or crossing the desert on a camel's back...

The start of the tournament ws all about Anish Giri who took off with 6.0/6

With him was his big supporter IM Sopiko Guramishvili

Until he met a certain Vladimir Kramnik who stole his thunder by beating him in round seven

No one saw it coming, but Yu Yangyi showed the extent of his fighting
spirit and talent as he beat both Giri and Kramnik in the last two rounds
to take sole first. Just plain fantastique.

I know that skeptical ones could claim that any seeming miracle could be achieved with the help of money, but this is not entirely true. It is widely known that money cannot buy respect, love or health; to an even lesser extent could "just money" be enough to make a mass of chess players (ever-grumpy creatures, as we all know) expressing their gratefulness to the organizers in the end of the tournament even though they didn't hit on the big pot?! Still, even from this point of view, the tournament was at the same height as the skyscrapers; it was more than just a big open or just a gathering of individuals. I felt that the tournament had a heart and a life of itself, but as much as I try explaining this logically, I inevitably return to the same rhetorical question: does Fata Morgana exist?

Is this Fata Morgana? No, it is the Armenian GM Elina Danielian

The Iranian WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan

The ever smiling Indian GM Harika Dronavalli

I may have to resign myself to the thought that it exists, indeed, since anything is possible in Qatar: no plan could be considered too high, no effort too big and no ambition too daring. Quite remarkably, the whole surrounding grandness doesn't make one feel small or insignificant, poor or frustrated. It rather offers the joy of being spoiled and taken care of; there is a magic magnetism in the local way of life making you feel like a king for ten days in this mini-paradise in the middle of the desert.

Because some of us, who came for the famous first edition of the Qatar Masters, had precisely ten days (too few) to indulge in what the organizers and the city exclusively reserved for us. Since there have been previous reports on the tournament itself, I will just offer my general perception about the course of events.

GM Artur Jussupov still hitting hard

GM Daniil Dubov had an excellent start, but two losses at the end
left him in the middle of the pack

Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna

The Ukrainian GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2706)

The tournament was disputed according to the Swiss system, the universal recipe for opens, but the field was so strong that one frequently had the impression this was a round robin tournament. How could I otherwise explain that despite a disappointing 0.5/3 I still found myself facing a 2600+ opponent?! But do not think that meeting a twelve-year-old 2300 player would ensure an easy day either, since all these young talents can prove very dangerous opponents for anybody!

Meet 11-year-old FM Liang Awonder rated 2266 FIDE. As a sign of how
strong the tournament was, he was ranked 151st on the starting list.

The ever strong Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

The extremely talented Chinese GM Ding Liren was three times Chinese
champion by the age of nineteen

Even though he was second on the initial rating list, the player who was entitled to be considered the king (and not just for ten days) was Vladimir Kramnik. His slow start (two draws in the first two rounds) allowed the young prince Anish Giri, actually the top-seed, to take the tournament's fate in his hands with a fantastic 6.0/6, but after King Kramnik defeated him in their direct encounter, many might have thought that experienced was about to prevail over youth in the final classification.

It was not to be, due to the rally by Yu Yangyi, Olympic gold medalist, who scored wins back to back wins over the first two ranked players, relegating them to second and third place, respectively.

A sign of the times: Modern GMs analyzing on the smart phone: Erwin l'Ami, Ivan Salgado,
David Anton and Ivan Cheparinov

Proud winners Yu Yangi and best woman IM Bella Khotenashvili

The battles are finished so the sword has been given a different task - to cut the delicious cake

Something from the spirit of what seems to be the main slogan in Doha - All or nothing (!) - must have disseminated in our three heroes' approach in the final rounds, culminating with Giri's daring and highly spectacular last round tactical operation.

As for yours truly... I belong to the large group of players who stayed out of the prize area and even dropped some rating, without altering the feeling that for ten days I had been a “queen”. I felt a bit of the winners' breeze when Bella Khotenashvili won the first women prize, as Bella is born on June, 1st, just like myself.

The women prize was deservedly taken by Bella Khotenashvili

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's sister: Zeynab Mamedyarova, who score an IM-norm

Ju Wenjun, the highest rated woman player in the tournament, was not at her best

The fighting principle 'the winner takes it all'  reigning all over the tournament was symbolically illustrated by the fact that Yu Yangyi and Bella were joined on the podium only by one more participant and winner - Salem A.R. Saleh, the best player from the Arabic World.

In an amicable chat with the organizers I found out their intention to make things even better on the next year second edition. Future will tell, but I have the feeling (or rather hope) that in 2015 I will once again have to readjust the frontiers of my imagination to the new and higher level of exclusivity...

All the reasons to smile and be proud: Tournament Director, GM Mohamed Al-Modiahki, with the
President of the Qatari Chess Federation and Vice President of FIDE, Khalifa Mohammed Al-Hitmi.

I love their clothes

Nice present from the tournament's sponsor: a solar charger for mobile phones, cameras etc.
Handy for professional travelers like us, chess players.



Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.
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Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 12/12/2014 09:08
Great great pictures.
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