Wang Hao Wins Sharjah Masters On Tiebreak

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

The first Sharjah Masters ended in a six-way tie for first place. Local GM Salem Saleh finished with five straight wins to reach 7.0/9, the same score as GMs Wang Hao, Baskaran Adhiban, Martyn Kravtsiv, Yuryi Kryvoruchko and S.P. Sethuraman.

Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Especially Salem's story in Sharjah is a nice one. He in fact started badly, losing to one of the many Indian prodigies, then won, but then drew twice. With 2/4 you can hardly expect to play for the prizes, let alone finish first. But five wins in a row did it for Salem! 

Here's his last-round win vs GM Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine, where a positional exchange sacrifice led to a dominating position right after the opening:


Salem Saleh vs Alexander Areshchenko in the final round. | Photo Anastasiya Karlovich.


Salem's secret? Well, perhaps it helped that he was playing table tennis every night at the Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club! | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

It's a good, general tip for people who play Swiss tournaments: make sure you have friends around, and ways to enjoy yourself away from chess, when you play badly. It has often helped the writer of these lines.

Wang Hao, now China's seventh player, was declared the winner. He in fact got the full $15,000 first prize, as prizes were not shared in this tournament.

Wang edged out the other five players on tiebreak, by winning at the right moment, and playing quick draws at the right moment (using theoretical lines that lead to repetitions vs GM Gawain Jones in round five and vs Kravtsiv in round eight).

An important win was his black game vs Adhiban in round seven. That involved a well-known trick with an extra punch:


Tournament winner Wang Hao (right) with his compatriots Xu Yinglun (left) and IM Xu Xiangyu
who both achieved achieved GM norms. A pretty successful trio. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

As you might remember from our first report, the Sharjah Masters looked a bit like an Indian open tournament, with no less than 92 of the 230 players coming from that country. Some successes were bound to happen!

One example is 23-year-old Srinath Narayanan from Chennai, who became a grandmaster during the tournament. He had in fact already scored five GM norms (two more than necessary), but somehow his rating never got above 2500 (the other requirement). But now it did.

Here's how he beat Spanish GM David Anton, who had played such a brilliant tournament in Gibraltar earlier this year.

Anton and his girlfriend were unseparable during this tournament (admittedly, a rather cute couple!) so it seems the Spaniard had a hard time combining the new romance while concentrating on good moves. The last move he made in Sharjah was a howler:

And what about 11-year-old IM Praggnanandhaa, India's big hope? Well, he didn't make his first GM norm just yet. After drawing three 2650+ GMs in a row he was on schedule, but the (accelerated) pairings in Sharjah then delivered him 1972 and 2084 rated opponents.

Praggnanandhaa beat them both, then lost to GM Eduardo Iturrizaga but the killer was his draw vs a 2200 player in the next round. Two wins against two more 2200 players in the final rounds got him a 2520 performance rating, while at least 2600 is necessary for a norm. But he did win 10.5 Elo points.

The young boy already has a new chance starting from tomorrow, because he'll also be playing in the nearby Dubai Open. Other players who play both tournaments include GMs Alexander Areshchenko, Eltaj Safarli, David Anton, Gawain Jones, Gabriel Sargissian, Sandro Mareco and Bassem Amin.

2017 Sharjah Masters | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 5 GM Wang Hao 2683 7 0 47 50 12
2 6 GM Adhiban B. 2682 7 0 44 47,5 11,4
3 21 GM Kravtsiv Martyn 2641 7 0 44 46,5 14,3
4 2 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2708 7 0 43 45,5 4,5
5 23 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2629 7 0 42,5 45 10,6
6 18 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2652 7 0 41 42,5 -1,9
7 4 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2702 6,5 0 46,5 49 -1
8 16 GM Fressinet Laurent 2662 6,5 0 45 47,5 2,6
9 17 GM Amin Bassem 2660 6,5 0 44 46,5 3,5
10 1 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2745 6,5 0 43,5 46 -3,8
11 45 GM Pichot Alan 2556 6,5 0 43,5 45 8,2
12 28 GM Adly Ahmed 2593 6,5 0 43 45,5 10,5
47 Xu Yinglun 2540 6,5 0 43 45,5 14,1
14 13 GM Sargissian Gabriel 2666 6,5 0 42,5 44 -6,3
15 36 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2576 6,5 0 41,5 44,5 9,9
16 15 GM Mareco Sandro 2664 6,5 0 40,5 44 -0,9
17 8 GM Safarli Eltaj 2680 6,5 0 40,5 42 -7,1
18 22 GM Bluebaum Matthias 2632 6,5 0 40 43 -0,9
19 54 IM Xu Xiangyu 2503 6,5 0 39 41,5 16,5
20 12 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2673 6 0 45,5 48 -9,3

(Full final standings here.)

Games from TWIC.

Previous report

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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