Qatar Masters starts on Sunday

by Amruta Mokal
12/20/2015 – It is one of the biggest events of the year 2015. We count 77 GMs, with top stars like Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Vassily Ivanchuk at the top. The average rating of the entire field of 141 players is 2526. The Opening dinner took place on Saturday and we bring you some candid pictures of the players and of Doha, captured by Amruta Mokal.

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Qatar Masters 2015 Opening dinner

If you are a chess fan there is one event which you just cannot afford to miss – it is the Qatar Masters Open 2015. What are the reasons for it?

  • The tournament is only open to players above 2300 Elo rating. Thanks to this the 141 player event has a whopping rating average of 2526!

  • The top seed is none other than the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen!

  • Carlsen will have his work cut out for him as he faces stiff challenge from ex-World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, from Anish Giri, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin and twelve other 2700+ players!

  • There are four ex-Women World Champions who will be seen in action: Hou Yifan, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antaoneta Stefanova, and Anna Ushenina.

  • Last but not least Peter Svidler will be commentating for the official website, together with our very own ChessBase author Alejandro Ramirez.

Before we take you to the pictures of the opening dinner, here are a few shots of beautiful Doha:

The picturesque West Bay Doha Skyline from the Corniche,
a waterfront promenade extending for several kilometers along Doha Bay

What would we do without the camels in the desert?!

18th of December was the Qatar National Day and the flags were everywhere in the city. There were also people on the streets offering free dates and Qatari coffee to just about everyone who passed by!

The star studded Qatar Masters Open 2015 launched off with an elegant opening dinner for all the players on the evening of 19th of December 2015. It was a pleasant atmosphere as all the players met up, spoke, relaxed and broke bread with each other one last time before the games begin tomorrow. ChessBase photographer Amruta Mokal captured some delightful moments, which we now present to you.

The opening ceremony took place at the Aspire ballroom of the Torch Hotel, which is 300 metres high and one of the landmark structures of Doha. It is also one of the official hotels where top players like Carlsen, Kramnik, Giri, etc. are staying.

“What are the best places to visit in Doha?” First timers and recently married Alexandra Kosteniuk and Pavel Tregubov ask Vladimir Kramnik, who has been here already in the 2014 edition of the Qatar Masters and really loves the city.

You can be assured of some fantastic games when Vasily Ivanchuk is playing. The Ukrainian
genius is in Doha after his triumph in the ACP Masters in Ashdod just a few days ago.

The globetrotting couple Sopiko Guramishvili and Anish Giri finished the London
Chess Classic, went home for a couple of days and are back to business in Qatar

Beware the Chinese are here! Left to right: Li Chao (2750), Yu Yangyi (2736),
Lu Shanglei (2618), Wei Yi (2730) and Ni Hua (2693), for an average of 2700+!

A formal picture of the Chinese camp with some of the wives included

The Russian contingent looks stronger than ever: Evgeny Tomashevsky, Sergey Karjakin,
Peter Svidler (who is the official commentator) and Dmitry Jakovenko

More Russians! Ildar Khairullin, Maxim Matlakov and Nikita Vitiugov

Polish chess couples: Mateusz and Marta Bartel, Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Alina Kashlinskaya

The players were treated to wide variety of juices and non-alcoholic drinks

Tournament Director Mohamed Al-Modiahki, Khalif Al-Hitmi, World Champion Magnus Carlsen,
Salem Al-Manaai, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, Dr. Nasser Abdulghani Al-Abdulghani

The World Champion and his parents were then treated some nice magic

“That was interesting!” Henrik and Sigrun Carlsen have a good time at the opening ceremony

Big Vlad was quite amused by a card trick

Chief Executive Officer of FIDE, Geoffrey Borg, chats with a young lady
who has a beautiful new hair style. Anyone guess who she is?

Yes, it's none other than the World number one Hou Yifan,
fresh from her smashing victory in a match in Shanghai

Four former Women World Champions captured in one frame:
Zhu Chen, Hou Yifan, Antaoneta Stefanova and Alexandra Kosteniuk

Wesley So (right) and foster mother Lotis Key and our reporter in Doha, Sagar Shah (left)

A Frenchman, a Moroccan and an Egyptian: GM Hicham Hamdouchi (2597), Mohamed Tissir (2346), IM Ezat Mohamed (2490).
Ezat just requires one GM norm and ten Elo points. We might see him as a GM at the end of this event.

Indian prodigy GM Aravindh Chithambaram, centre, with GM M.R. Venkatesh (left) and IM N.R. Vignesh

Viktor and Margarita Bologan

Brothers in style: Samuel Shankland, USA, and S.P. Sethuraman,
India are also just seven rating points apart

The charming and affable 15-year-old WGM Zhansaya Abdumalik (2390)

List of top participants (2500+)

1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2834
2 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2796
3 GM Giri Anish NED 2784
4 GM So Wesley USA 2775
5 GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2766
6 GM Li Chao B CHN 2750
7 GM Mamedyarov Shakh. AZE 2748
8 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2744
9 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2743
10 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2737
11 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2736
12 GM Wei Yi CHN 2730
13 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2724
14 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2723
15 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2713
16 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2710
17 GM Ponomariov Ruslan UKR 2710
18 GM Ni Hua CHN 2693
19 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2689
20 GM Howell David W L ENG 2688
21 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2684
22 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2683
23 GM Adhiban B. IND 2669
24 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2664
25 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof POL 2663
26 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2655
27 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2654
28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2654
29 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2648
30 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2648
31 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2647
32 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2646
33 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2646
34 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2646
35 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2644
36 GM Nguyen Ngoc T. S. VIE 2642
37 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2639
38 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2638
39 GM Piorun Kacper POL 2637
40 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2632
41 GM Naroditsky Daniel USA 2628
42 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2626
43 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2622
44 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2620
45 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2619
46 GM Zhang Zhong SIN 2619
47 GM Lu Shanglei CHN 2618
48 GM Zhou Jianchao CHN 2606
49 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2602
50 GM Hamdouchi Hicham FRA 2597
51 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2597
52 GM Bok Benjamin NED 2594
53 GM Bluebaum Matthias GER 2590
54 GM Tregubov Pavel V. RUS 2589
55 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2582
56 GM Esen Baris TUR 2562
57 GM Rambaldi Francesco ITA 2560
58 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2559
59 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra RUS 2542
60 IM Lin Chen CHN 2532
61 IM Svane Rasmus GER 2529
62 GM Xu Jun CHN 2526
63 GM Bromberger Stefan GER 2521
64 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2521
65 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2520
66 GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2513
67 GM Sundararajan Kidambi IND 2513
68 GM Schroeder Jan-Christian GER 2511
69 IM Yuffa Daniil RUS 2504
70 GM Darini Pouria IRI 2500


1 $27,000
2 $16,000
3 $12,000
4 $8,500
5 $7,500
6 $5,500
7 $4,500
8 $3,500
9 $2,500
10 $2,000
11 $1,500
12 $1,300
13 $1,200
14 $1,200
15 $1,100
16 $1,100
17 $1,100
18 $1,000
19 $1,000
20 $1,000
Total $100,500

Plus special prizes for Best Women, Best Arab Players, Best Junior Players,
Rating groups 2300-2399, 2400-2499 and 2500-2599.


Sat 19 December  Arrival, Opening Ceremony 3 PM 7 PM
Sun 20 December  Round 1 3 PM
Mon 21 December  Round 2 3 PM
Tue 22 December  Round 3 3 PM
Wed 23 December  Round 4 3 PM
Thu 24 December  Round 5 3 PM
Fri 25 December  Rest day  
Sat 26 December  Round 6 3 PM
Sun 27 December  Round 7 3 PM
Mon 28 December  Round 8 3 PM
Tue 29 December  Round 9 Awards Ceremony 12 PM 7 PM
Wed 30 December  Check-out and departures 12 PM

Playchess commentary schedule

To be announced

Impressions of the Qatar Opening Ceremony by Vijay Kumar

Photos by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Amruta Mokal is a professional chess player with four WIM norms, but also an enthusiastic photographer who loves to cover tournaments, capturing various expressions and emotions of players engrossed in the game. She is the wife of ChessBase editor Sagar Shah, with whom she has founded ChessBase India.


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