Young stars in Al Ain Junior International

by Macauley Peterson
1/4/2018 – The very first junior U-20 international open chess tournament in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates is being held from December 29th to January 7th, 2018. Under the auspices of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Al Ain Chess & Culture Club the tournament has attracted top young talent from Armenia, India, Iran, and Uzbekistan. | Pictured: The ceremonial first move made by H.E Sheikh Salem BalRakkad AlAmeri | Photo: Enkhtuul Altan-Ulzii

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Talents of India, Armenia & Iranian vie for first

GM-elect Nodirbek Abdusattorov has been in the international chess news since he was nine years old and beat two grandmasters in a tournament. Now, at thirteen, and rated 2516, he was the second seed in the inaugural Al Ain Junior Under-20 International Open. And yet, after the penultimate round eight, he's eliminated from contention for first place. That gives you an idea of just how strong this junior event is, in the United Arab Emirates fourth largest city, located at the border with Oman about 120 kilometers south of Dubai.

Over 140 players from 11 different countries started before the New Year, including men and women GMs, IMs, FMs as well as CMs. The technical director of Al Ain Chess & Culture Club, Mr. Tarek Al Taher and other officials attended the opening ceremony which took place in the Hili Rotana hotel. 

The Al Ain Chess & Culture Club specifically chose to organize an international open tournament for junior players with good prize money — a total prize fund of USD $25,000 for the open plus $3,900 for a blitz tournament — to support young chess players both from within the UAE and from abroad.

Ghosh goes for it

The top seed is Indian GM Diptayan Ghosh, at 2556, and he is the co-leader with an undefeated 7 points. But his opposition has been relatively weak, with his highest rating victim just 2270 in round eight, and earlier drawing FM Artur Davtyan (2305) as well as Abdusattorov in round six.

19-year-old Diptayan Ghosh hails from Kolkata, India

19-year-old Diptayan Ghosh hails from Kolkata, India | Photo: Enkhtuul Altan-Ulzii

By contrast, Ghosh's co-leader, Armenian IM Tigran Harutyunian has won his last two games against IM Aryan Gholami (2489) and Abdusattorov, to pull even on 7 points.

Against the Uzbek prodigy, Harutyunian won a pawn in the early middlegame, but Abdusattorov could keep the game level, until this moment:


You can play out the variations on the live diagram!

Abdusattorov went 21.Rbd1, allowing Bg4 with a skewer to win the exchange, and probably relying on the pins against the blacks d4-bishop and and f6-knight for counterplay after 22.Qc4 Bxd1 23.Rxd1.

But the Armenian spotted the shot 23...Bxc3, ingoring the pin, which wins as 24.Rxd8 Rexd8 25.Qxc3 (or 24.Qxc3 immediately) would be met by Nxe4! and White's back rank weakness forces heavy material losses.

Instead, after making luft with 25.g3, Harutyunian's pair of rooks were much better than the queen, and he converted the edge 20 moves later.

Tigran Harutyunian

Tigran Harutyunian has momentum going into the last round | Photo: Enkhtuul Altan-Ulzii

Fittingly, the co-leaders will face each other in the final ninth round, with Ghosh having the white pieces.

The third seed, and former Under-18 World Champion, Masoud Mosadeghpour, from Iran, was tripped up by his younger countryman Gholami in the eighth round. The game looked all but certain to be heading for a draw, until Mosadeghpour gave his opponent a huge opportunity in an equal ending.


It looks harmless enough, but 39.Nc1 and suddenly the knight heading to f2 to target g4 leads to the loss of a pawn. After Black's best 39...hxg3 40.hxg3 Bb4 41.Nd3 Bd2 42.Nxe5 Bxe3 43.Nxg4, Gholami was able to bring in the full point, and maintain a shot at first place, should board one end in a draw on Friday.

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Update January 6th: Harutynian and Dhosh drew there last round game to tie for first. Prize money is shared, but the Armenian was awarded the first place on tiebreak score.

Standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Harutyunian Tigran K. 7,5 0,5
2 Ghosh Diptayan 7,5 0,5
3 Gholami Aryan 7,0 0,0
4 Abdusattorov Nodirbek 7,0 0,0
5 Mosadeghpour Masoud 7,0 0,0
6 Davtyan Artur 7,0 0,0
7 Danielyan Vahe 7,0 0,0
8 Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 7,0 0,0
9 Hakobyan Hovhannes H. 7,0 0,0
10 Garayev Kanan 7,0 0,0
11 Mousavi Seyed Khalil 6,5 0,0
12 Asadi Motahare 6,5 0,0
13 Poormosavi Seyed Kian 6,5 0,0
14 Sultan Ibrahim 6,5 0,0
15 Ahmed Fareed 6,5 0,0
16 Asatryan Sona 6,5 0,0
17 Al Hosani Omran 6,0 0,0
18 Shanya Mishra 6,0 0,0
19 Lakshmi Krishna Bhushan D 6,0 0,0
20 Al-Zaabi Sultan 6,0 0,0

All games


Enkhtuul Altanulzii contributed to this report


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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