Dubai Open: Lots of Attacking Chess, 3 Players Still Perfect

Dubai Open: Lots of Attacking Chess, 3 Players Still Perfect

| 5 | Chess Event Coverage

Three players started with 4.0/4 at the Dubai Open: GM David Howell of England, GM Nils Grandelius of Sweden and Yuri Solodovnichenko of Ukraine.

Dubai, the emirate with numerous shopping malls, very expensive hotel rooms and the tallest building in the world (among many other things!) hosted the 2014 World Rapid and Blitz Championship. It also has a long-running strong open tournament.

The 17th edition of the Dubai Open is currently under way. Four rounds have been played, and five more are scheduled. As always, the playing hall is the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. Today is a rest day, when a blitz tournament is organized.

The tournament is also named “the Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup,” after the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. The total prize fund is $50,000 with a $12,000 first prize. 

This attracted 152 participants from 39 federations, including 39 GMs and 22 IMs. The top seeds are GMs David Howell, Vladimir Fedoseev, Igor Kovalenko, Tigran Petrosian, Yuriy Kuzubov, Sergei Zhigalko, Mateusz Bartel, Ivan Ivanisevic, Eltaj Safarli and Eduardo Iturrizaga.

Round four in action. | Photo Dubai Chess & Culture Club.

The first round of an open tournament is always good for a few David vs Goliath scenarios, and in Dubai this was also the case. The highest-ranked player to stumble was fifth seed GM Yuriy Kuzubov, who went down against Jobannie C. Tabada from the Philippines.

This wasn't your everyday upset. As Black Kuzubov played the Petroff (!), probably expecting to outplay his 400+ Elo-point-lower-rated opponent in any position. However, what he didn't count on is that Tabada turned out to be a very decent endgame player!

Local hero FM Saeed Ishaq managed to beat GM Eltaj Safarli from Azerbaijan in a nice attacking game that started with some unorthodox opening moves. It's not easy to reach a winning position after 15 moves against a GM when you start with the modest 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.e3...

And there were more. India’s Mokal Amruta Sunil, rated 2075(!), managed to win against Italian GM Daniele Vocaturo and the UAE’s Mayed Alrashedi (1852!) held Indian GM R.R. Laxman to draw.

GM Daniel Vocaturo, meanwhile on 3.0/4. | Photo Dubai Chess & Culture Club.

Let's continue the attacking theme with the following game. GM Sahaj Grover beat WGM Zeinab Mamedjarova quickly from a Spanish Four Knights where the theme was: a knight on f5 is worth a lot. At least a piece.

And... another attack. After his first-round loss Kuzubov fought back and scored three consecutive wins. The third was against Egyptian IM Mohamed Ezat, and it didn't last long:

The playing hall during round three. | Photo Dubai Chess & Culture Club.

By now most chess fans are aware that GM Tigran Petrosian is a player from Armenia bearing the same name as the ninth world champion. In Dubai an Armenian IM named Manuel Petrosyan is playing, who almost held GM Igor Kovalenko to a draw.

Knight endings can be extremely tricky. This one looks like a theoretical draw, but after 140 moves the white player had to throw in the towel.

GM David Howell moved to 4.0/4 with a quick and sharp win over GM Sergey Volkov. This Chebanenko Slav quickly became very concrete, but 15...Qe7 was already a big mistake.

The start of Howell vs Volkov in round four. | Photo Dubai Chess & Culture Club.

2015 Dubai Open | Round 4 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 1 GM Howell David W L ENG 2687 4 7588 0 10,5 9,6
2 17 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2613 4 7370 0 9,5 9,8
3 27 GM Solodovnichenko Yuri UKR 2584 4 7203 0 9 9,3
4 2 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2674 3,5 7561 0 10 4,8
5 6 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2657 3,5 7515 0 10,5 5
6 3 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2665 3,5 7484 0 11 4,3
7 11 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2630 3,5 7463 0 9,5 5,3
8 19 GM Solak Dragan TUR 2602 3,5 7453 0 10 6,4
9 16 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2614 3,5 7340 0 9,5 4,8
10 23 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2595 3,5 7320 0 9,5 4,4
11 25 GM Papp Gabor HUN 2589 3,5 7306 0 9,5 5,3
12 35 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2500 3,5 7261 0 8,5 7,7
13 46 IM Pourramezanali Amirreza IRI 2433 3 7480 0 9 8,1
14 7 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2642 3 7475 0 9,5 -0,1
15 20 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2602 3 7472 0 11 1,7
16 36 GM Idani Pouya IRI 2499 3 7461 0 9,5 5,9
17 18 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2606 3 7403 0 11,5 0,5
18 51 GM Laxman R.R. IND 2409 3 7317 0 9 7
19 10 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2632 3 7286 0 10 -2
20 8 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2638 3 7229 0 9 -2,9

(Full standings here.)

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.”

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