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Abu Dhabi Chess Festival: Norms, titles and more!

by Aditya Pai - 01/09/2017

The capital city of UAE, Abu Dhabi, hosted a spectacular chess festival from 13th to 23rd August 2017. The fest featured six events which cumulatively attracted more than 350 participants. And guess what? More than 150 of them were from India! With so many Indians in the fray, it was natural to expect some big results for our country. And our players didn't disappoint. Four out of the seven norms achieved at the Master's section of the tournament were earned by Indians. Besides, GM Shardul Gagare finished third at the ultra strong blitz event of the festival while Amardeep Bartakke and his son Aditya clinched the title prize in the Family Tournament! Here's a report with pictures. 

Photos by Abu Dhabi Festival Facebook page

The Abu Dhabi Chess Festival seems to have become a favourite of Indian chess players. In its 24th edition this year, the festival welcomed more than 150 players from India, a third of whom played in the Master’s Tournament. The festival not only included an extremely strong field in the Master’s section but also had an open event along with some other side events like a blitz and a family tournament.

Main playing hall (Photo by Amardeep Bartakke)

The Masters Tournament featured as many as 12 players rated above 2600 and included some big names like Nigel Short, Rauf Mamedov, Anton Korobov etc. The Indian charge in this tournament comprised of 51 players of whom GM Abhijeet Gupta was the highest rated. Although Abhijeet was the fifth seeded player in the tournament, he was unable to give his best and finished 36th on the final ranking list with a score of 5.5/9.

Abjijeet Gupta against the young talent from Mumbai, Mithil Ajgaonkar (Photo by Amardeep Bartakke)

Nevertheless, most other Indians performed amazingly well. The 16-year-old GM Aryan Chopra (rated 2507 at the time of the tournament), who was seeded 35th in the tournament, performed way above his current rating and finished third with a rating performance of 2683! On his way to the top, he beat several higher rated GMs and even drew against the fourth seeded Korobov in round 2!

Aryan Chopra's play was much more mature than his age! 

 

Another Indian who performed remarkably well was IM Vignesh NR. With a rating performance of 2628, Vignesh scored 6.0/9 and earned himself a GM norm. Not only that, he also finished 10th in the final standings!

Talking of norms, out of the seven players who achieved norms at the tournament, four were Indians! Along with Vignesh, Pune lad, Abhimanyu Puranik also scored a GM norm. Believe it or not, this seventeen-year-old boy achieved his norm with a round to spare. Starting out with a bang, Abhimanyu scored a win in the first round and held the sixth and the fourth seeds of the tournament, Constantin Lupulescu and Anton Korobov in the second and the third round respectively. Despite his loss in the final round, he finished with a rating performance of 2601 and earned 13.8 rating points. This means along with achieving his third and final GM norm, the boy will also cross Elo 2500 in the next month’s rating list, becoming India’s 49th Grandmaster! You can read a full report on his achievement here.

Believe it or not, this seventeen-year-old boy achieved his norm with a round to spare (Picture by Amardeep Bartakke)

Harika won the best woman player's prize at the event

Two other norms scored at the event were: an IM norm by Muthaiah AL and a WGM norm by Vantika Agrawal. Just like Abhimanyu, Muthaiah AL also scored his norm with a round to spare. One of his games that grabbed eyeballs was his round 6 win against GM Abhijeet Gupta. Scoring 5.0/9, Muthaiah gained 48 rating points and finished 40th in the final standings.

18-year-old Muthaiah AL stunned many GMs and performed way above his rating 

 

 

The newly titled WIM Vantika continued her fine form at the UAE capital and scored 5.0/9 with a performance of 2430. This outstanding show not only earned her a WGM norm but also 88 rating points! One of the highlights of her run was her win against WIM Eesha Karvade.

 

 

Sohan Phadke performed really well and had a rating performance of 2444. He missed out on his second IM norm by a whisker

GM Amin Bassem became the champion of the event 

Nigel Short made a strong comeback after a slow start and finished second 

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.

SNo

 

Name

FED

Rtg

Pts.

 TB1 

 TB2 

 TB3 

n

w

we

w-we

K

rtg+/-

1

2

GM

Amin Bassem

EGY

2680

7,5

0,0

2563

50,0

9

7,5

6,14

1,36

10

13,6

2

1

GM

Short Nigel D

ENG

2688

7,0

0,0

2515

48,0

9

7

6,59

0,41

10

4,1

3

35

GM

Aryan Chopra

IND

2507

6,5

0,0

2558

48,5

9

6,5

4,32

2,18

10

21,8

4

8

GM

Salem A.R. Saleh

UAE

2624

6,5

0,0

2535

49,0

9

6,5

5,76

0,74

10

7,4

5

28

GM

Batchuluun Tsegmed

MGL

2555

6,5

0,0

2505

47,0

9

6,5

5,37

1,13

10

11,3

6

3

GM

Mamedov Rauf

AZE

2680

6,5

0,0

2495

46,5

9

6,5

6,76

-0,26

10

-2,6

7

4

GM

Korobov Anton

UKR

2668

6,5

0,0

2495

45,0

9

6,5

6,67

-0,17

10

-1,7

8

39

IM

Abdusattorov Nodirbek

UZB

2470

6,5

0,0

2477

45,0

9

6,5

4,73

1,77

10

17,7

9

11

GM

Parligras Mircea-Emilian

ROU

2616

6,5

0,0

2441

45,0

9

6,5

6,69

-0,19

10

-1,9

10

41

IM

Vignesh N R

IND

2448

6,0

0,0

2547

47,0

9

6

3,78

2,22

10

22,2

 

Open Section

The Open Tournament of the festival was another exciting affair.  After 9 gruelling rounds of battle, only three out of the top 10 seeds were actually able to finish among the top 10 in the final rankings! From the Indian contingent, three players finished among the top 10. The 20th seeded Ketan Boricha finished 2nd on the leaderboard. Out of his nine games, he only lost one; and that was against the tournament’s winner, Elshad Abdullayev. CM Nikhil Magizhnan and Mohammad Dilshad both scored 7.0/9 but after tie-breaks were applied, Nikhil was ranked 6th while Dilshad was 10th.

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.

SNo

 

Name

FED

Rtg

Pts.

 TB1 

 TB2 

 TB3 

1

13

Abdullayev Elshad

AZE

2066

8,0

0,0

1941

56,5

2

20

Boricha Ketan

IND

2004

7,5

0,0

1921

54,5

3

9

Babazada Khazar

AZE

2072

7,5

0,0

1919

55,5

4

4

Pabalan Rocky

PHI

2091

7,5

0,0

1841

52,0

5

45

Lagutin Nelman

PHI

1849

7,5

0,0

1831

52,0

6

22

CM

Nikhil Magizhnan

IND

1969

7,0

0,0

1908

51,5

7

7

IM

Sultan Ibrahim

UAE

2076

7,0

0,0

1906

51,5

8

24

Abdulkarim Ali

UAE

1960

7,0

0,0

1846

46,5

9

15

Adnan Habib

CAN

2044

7,0

0,0

1811

47,5

10

19

Mohammed Dilshad

IND

2011

7,0

0,0

1750

47,5

 

Side Events

Besides the Masters and the Open, the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival also featured a few quirky side events like a blitz tournament, Homeland Protectors Tournament (A tournament open to members of military and police and national service), a Family Tournament (for teams of two players from the same family) and a simultaneous exhibition by GM Salem Saleh.

GM Salem Saleh at the simul (Source: Official Website)

Blitz Tournament 

The blitz tournament featured three players rated above 2700. In fact, the top two seeds, Rauf Mamedov and Anton Korobov, were rated as high as 2796 and 2782 respectively. The Georgian GM Levan Pantsulaia, who is rated 2703, was the third seed. Crashing through this group of elite GMs, India’s GM Shardul Gagare, who was seeded 16th in the tournament, finished third with 9.0/11. Gagare had actually tied for second but was awarded third place due to lower tie-break score.

 

En route to this fantastic finish, Shardul had to overcome a lot of hurdles. The first and third rounds were a nightmare for the young lad. In his very first game of the tournament, Shardul had to concede a draw to Saif Ahmed, a local player from UAE who was rated around 900 points below him. And then again, in round 3, he lost against the Vietnamese IM Nguyen Anh Khoi, who was also rated around 400 points below him. But after this, Gagare put the pedal to the metal and won seven out of his remaining eight games. The only game he couldn’t win was his eighth round game against the tournament’s top seed Anton Korobov, which ended in a draw. What was all the more impressive was that Shardul was able to defeat the 2703 rated Levan Pantsulaia and GM Abhijeet Gupta in his last two games.

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds

Rk.

SNo

Name

FED

Rtg

Pts.

 TB1 

 TB2 

 TB3 

1

10

GM

Indjic Aleksandar

SRB

2578

9,5

0,0

2306

74,5

2

6

IM

Firouzja Alireza

IRI

2626

9,0

0,0

2388

77,0

3

16

GM

Gagare Shardul

IND

2524

9,0

0,0

2241

72,0

4

12

GM

Hovhannisyan Robert

ARM

2565

8,5

0,0

2439

80,0

5

15

IM

Golubov Saveliy

RUS

2540

8,5

0,0

2373

79,5

6

9

GM

Ghaem Maghami Ehsan

IRI

2579

8,5

0,0

2334

76,5

7

2

GM

Korobov Anton

UKR

2782

8,5

0,0

2325

80,0

8

33

IM

Sardana Rishi

AUS

2313

8,5

0,0

2050

67,0

9

7

GM

Ter-Sahakyan Samvel

ARM

2620

8,0

0,0

2486

81,0

10

3

GM

Pantsulaia Levan

GEO

2703

8,0

0,0

2358

78,0

 

Family Tournament

The Family Tournament was another event where Indians dominated. Team Bartakke and Team Boricha conquered the top two spots. Amardeep Bartakke along with his son Aditya took the title prize with a score of 11/14. The father-son duo massed up four wins and three draws out of their seven games to get ahead of their rivals. Renowned Mumbai-based coach, Ketan Boricha, and his son Yohan also had an unbeaten run at the event. In the final standings, they were just one point behind the champions, having scored 10/14.

Amardeep and Aditya Bartakke proudly holding the winner's trophy!
Ketan Boricha and his son, Yohan with their trophy and medals 

Final Ranking after 7 Rounds

Rk.

SNo

Team

Games

  + 

  = 

  - 

 TB1 

 TB2 

 TB3 

1

3

Bartakke

7

4

3

0

11

10,5

81,8

2

6

Boricha

7

3

4

0

10

9,5

61,8

3

21

Manafov

7

3

3

1

9

9,0

66,0

4

7

Davtyan

7

2

5

0

9

8,5

59,8

5

4

Afshari

7

2

4

1

8

8,5

60,8

6

8

Shah

7

2

4

1

8

8,5

45,3

7

16

Raju

7

1

6

0

8

8,0

59,0

8

19

Alothman

7

2

4

1

8

8,0

57,5

9

1

Jonkman

7

1

6

0

8

8,0

49,0

10

2

Chitlange

7

2

4

1

8

7,0

51,5

About the Author

Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He has been an advertising copywriter and is currently pursuing a Master's in English Literature at the University of Mumbai. He loves all things German and is learning the language. He has also written scripts for experimental films.  

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