Strong Dubai Open Starts With Several Upsets
It may seem a rather quiet period in between the Candidates' and Norway Chess, but quite a few strong players can be found behind the board. Besides the Bangkok Chess Club Open (covered yesterday) there's the even stronger Dubai Open, under way in the United Arab Emirates.
All photos courtesy of the Dubai Open
The 18th Dubai Open, also named Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Cup, has just started. At the time of writing two rounds have been played. The venue is the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, shaped as a chess rook. It also hosted the 2014 World Rapid and Blitz Championship.
The Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
Chess is growing. Well, at least some open tournaments are! Like its brother in Bangkok, the Dubai Open is having a record number of participants this year: 195 players from 37 countries. No less than 131 titled players are playing, including 46 grandmasters.
Ivan Cheparinov (BUL 2695), Gabriel Sargissian (ARM 2693), David Howell (ENG 2678), Baadur Jobava (GEO 2672), Baskaran Adhiban (IND 2663) and S.P. Sethuraman (IND 2658) are the top seeds; the latter two come straight from their victory at the Asian Nations Cup. “No 2700 players?” you might wonder. True, but there are 24 players rated above 2600!
After two rounds there are still 54 players sitting on a perfect score, but the top four seeds are not among them. Especially Anton Korobov and Lazaro Bruzon have a disappointing start; both drew twice against lower rated players.
Top seed Cheparinov has already dropped half a point. In the first round everything went smooth, and he won with a nice but not too difficult tactical sequence:
The ceremonial start of the clock on board one in the first round.
In the second round the Bulgarian grandmaster was in fact close to losing. He played Indian GM Das Debashis and the two followed one of Sergey Karjakin's Queen's Indian games from the Moscow Candidates' Tournament. On move 28 Cheparinov avoided a move repetition, but soon after he was worse. Eventually he ended up in a rook ending two pawns down, and he was lucky that his opponent didn't have access to a tablebase!
Debashis came close to beating the top seed on Tuesday.
A fun game from the first round was the following. Eltaj Safarli, the co-winner of the Tata Steel Challengers earlier this year, defeated Nino Maisuradze, the better half of Brazilian GM Alexander Fier, but not without some scary moments.
The playing hall.
Gawain Jones won an interesting game in a King's Indian in round two. It wasn't fully correct but certainly entertaining.
For this writer personally it's nice to see my old friend from ChessVibes, IM Robert Ris (now an active coach on our site!), scoring an excellent win against a strong 2600 grandmaster. Giving up an exchange for positional compensation in the opening, that's the way to go! That e5-bishop was monster indeed, and Kuzubov had to give back material soon. But White just kept on pressing.
An excellent game by IM Robert Ris (l.) vs Yuryi Kuzubov.
The Dubai Open runs until April 20th. The tournament is a nine-round Swiss played with the standard FIDE time control: one hour and 30 minutes to finish a game, with an additional 30 seconds per move. The total prize fund is U.S. $50,000 with a U.S. $13,000 first prize. On top of that there's the Dubai Open Blitz Cup with a U.S. $4,000 total prize fund. This will be held during the tournament's rest day on April 15th.