UAE’s Sultan, Sadhwani share lead at Dubai Open Chess Tournament - GulfToday

UAE’s Sultan, Sadhwani share lead at Dubai Open Chess Tournament

GM Raunak Sadhwani (right) outlasts compatriot IM V S Rathanvel on the first board during the second round of the 24th Dubai Open Chess Tournament.

GM Raunak Sadhwani (right) outlasts compatriot IM V S Rathanvel on the first board during the second round of the 24th Dubai Open Chess Tournament.

International Master (IM) Ibrahim Sultan of the UAE kept pace with the leaders after defeating China’s IM Pang Tao on Sunday’s second round of the 24th Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Sultan, a national team player who was the UAE’s top point maker during the last World Chess Olympiad held in Chennai, played an impeccable rook endgame to pick up the win against his higher-rated opponent in a marathon game that lasted 71 moves.

IM Oliver Dimakiling of the Philippines likewise scored an upset victory, beating eighth-seed Grandmaster (GM) Eltaj Safarli to join the leaderboard.

Dimakiling, who serves as one of the coaches at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, tenaciously defended a worse endgame and then found a tactical blow that netted a piece.

Sultan and Dimakiling joined second-seed Grandmaster Raunak Sadhwani, who outplayed compatriot IM V S Rathanvel in the first board, in the lead with two points apiece.

Other players with perfect scores are GM Dai Changren of China, IM Aronyak Ghosh of India, (FM) Erik Hakobyan of Armenia, and Turkish players GM Vahap Sanal, GM Emre Can, and IM Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus.

The 20-year-old Ghosh, who took the bronze medal in the 2023 Indian national championships ahead of several grandmasters, defeated 15-year-old prodigy IM Kevin George Micheal of Egypt to move up to two points in the nine-round Swiss system tournament.

Playing the black side of a Sicilian Defence game, the Indian player made a rare maneuver by moving the black queen to a5 on the sixth move, aiming to confuse the young Egyptian opponent.

The strategy eventually succeeded as Michael gradually lost his grasp on the game, culminating in a critical blunder on the 21st move. This error allowed Ghosh to deliver a tactical blow that secured a piece advantage. Ghosh then efficiently concluded the game by the 33rd move.

After a major upset victory over Chinese Grandmaster Zhu Jiner in the first round, Hakobyan secured another significant triumph, this time without even making a move after a win by default over Azerbaijani top-seed GM Teimour Radjabov.

In Category B, third-seed Woman International Master (WIM) Srishti Pandey of India and seventh-seed FM Bakhyt Temirov are the only ones among the top 10 seeds to remain in the lead after the second round saw a string of upsets. Pandey won over Jordan’s WIM Alshaeby Boshra while Temirov disposed of Egypt’s Ramez Sameir. In the top-board encounter, 38th-seed Raji Abuazizah of Palestine held second-seed FM Prince Daniel Mulenga to a draw, while fourth-seed Nehad Nyazi of Egypt lost to China’s Wang Hao.

UAE player FM Ahmed Fareed also has two points after a win over Armenia’s Beniamin Gasparyan, while Fareed’s compatriot Salem Abdulrahim settled for a draw with Egypt’s Mohamed Elnemr to stay half a point behind the leaders.

Sadhwani will face Changren on first board in Category A in the third round while Sultan will take on Can. In Category B, Pandey will be up against Jordan’s Anas Khwaira on the first board, while the Emirati player Fareed will be up against Temirov on the second board.      

Highly anticipated Dubai Open Chess Tournament has attracted more than 160 players from 40 different countries.

Dubai Open Chess Tournament is one of the largest and most prestigious international tournaments, which has been a significant milestone in the careers of many prominent chess players, including world champion Magnus Carlsen.

The nine-round tournament will continue until June 2 at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, with games starting from 5pm, except in the final round, which will start at 10am.

Each player is allotted a thinking time of 90 minutes, with 30 seconds added after each move.

First held in 1999 to provide exposure to the UAE’s young talent, the 24th edition of the prestigious tournament offers a total of $52,000 in cash prizes, which will be awarded to the winners.


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