Chithambaram seals rare back-to-back title wins at Dubai Open Chess Tournament - GulfToday

Chithambaram seals rare back-to-back title wins at Dubai Open Chess Tournament


Winners pose for a picture with Khalid Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Najib Mohamed Saleh and Mohammed Al Husseini during the presentation ceremony.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

A draw in the final round proved enough for Grandmaster (GM) Aravindh Chithambaram of India to become one of only two players to win back-to-back championships in the history of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament.

The defending champion halved the point with compatriot GM Arjun Erigaisi in Sunday’s ninth round and then proceeded to rule the tournament by virtue of a superior tiebreak score over Erigaisi and two others who finished with the same 6.5-point output.

“It means a lot to me,” said Chithambaram of his championship finish at the 23rd edition of Dubai Open, which made up for a less-than-sterling performance in the Sharjah Masters a week earlier.

“As I didn’t do too well in Sharjah, I really wanted this title. Somehow I actually managed to do it, so I’m really happy about it.”

Chithambaram and the rest of the winners receive their prizes during the awarding ceremony Sunday night attended by Khalid Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Chairman of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, Tarim Matar, President of the UAE Chess Federation, Mohammed Al-Modiahki, President of the Qatar Chess Federation, and chess officials and members of the board of directors.

Najib Mohamed Saleh, Vice Chairman of the Club, Othman Musa Abdullah, Director, and Mohammed Al Husseini, the tournament's general coordinator, also gave away the prizes.

Falasi expressed his gratitude for the successful staging of the 23rd edition of the Dubai Open, noting that the event has become a favorite destination for elite players as well as promising young masters from different countries.

He added that major events such as the Dubai Open are important initiatives that support the development of UAE players, providing an opportunity to compete with some of the world’s best players and improve their international ranking. He further revealed plans of hosting world championship events as well as continental championships at the club.

GM Javokhir Sindarov of Uzbekistan, the fourth-youngest player to earn the grandmaster title, secured second place also with 6.5 points after a draw with 2019 Dubai Open champion GM Maxim       Matlakov of Russia. Erigaisi was relegated to third, while Matlakov placed fourth.

After a strong start that saw him win his first four games to zoom to the pole position in the nine-round tournament, Chithambaram could only manage to draw his next five – and the two-time Indian national champion was particularly disheartened by his inability to win any of his games in rounds five to eight where had achieved promising, even winning, positions.

“It was really depressing after each of those games. I just could not sleep every night,” Chithambaram revealed. “So that’s one of the things I need to improve on – converting a winning position. Hopefully, I will take something out of this experience and get ready for the next tournament.”

Chithambaram’s final-round game against Erigaisi, winner of the Sharjah Masters last week, was a lot less combative and the two players agreed to a draw after 30 moves in a Tarrasch Defense. Having the highest tiebreak going into the final round, Chithambaram said a draw with black against Erigaisi was a good result as it meant he could finish no worse than second place.

Chithambaram, who won the Indian national championship in 2018 and 2019, is the second player to win two consecutive Dubai Open titles after the English GM Gawain Jones achieved the feat in 2016-17.

“I’ve won the nationals back-to-back, but this is the first time for me to achieve this in an international open tournament,” he said.

Further underlining the rising prowess of the next generation of chess talents, the rest of the top 10 standings was dominated by some of the youngest players in the tournament: IM Emin Ohanyan of Armenia, 16, untitled Xue Haowen of China, 14, GM Abhimanyu Mishra of the United States, 14, who is also the youngest player in history to become a grandmaster, and GM Murzin Volodar of Russia, 16.

The special awards were also collared by youth players, with Rusia’s Nikolay Averin and Iran’s Sina Movahed, both 13, taking the prize in the 2200-2299 and 2300-2399 rating category respectively.

Young talents likewise asserted their dominance in the Open division with 14-year-old Fide Master (FM) Maxim Gavrilov of Russia securing the championship in the Open division with 7.5 points. Gavrilov picked up an important win in the final round after his 11-year-old opponent, Manvel Arakelyan of Armenia, walked into a forced mate in their Slav Defense encounter.

“I am very happy to win this prize,” said Gavrilov. “I am glad that I came here to play.”

Thirteen-year-old Jaiveer Mahendru of India and Dubai-based chess coach Bryle Arellano of the Philippines also had 7.5 points but were relegated to second and third places after the tiebreaks were applied.

Mahendru defeated the UAE’s Ahmad Al Romaithi, while Arellano outplayed another promising young talent, 13-year-old FM Kevin George Micheal of Egypt.

Despite the final-round loss, Arakelyan managed to secure fourth place with the highest tiebreak score among 6.5-pointers. The rest of the top 10 finishers were Ediz Kocak of Germany, John Vincent Cayaba of the Philippines, Raji Abuazizah Palestine, George Micheal, WFM Alexandra Zherebtsova of Russia, and Al Romaithi.

The UAE’s teenage talent Mohammad Abdulrahman Alawadhi received the special prize as the top performer in the 1600-1799 rating category, while 10-year-old Sahin Sarp of Turkey took the award in the 1800-1999 category.

A total prize fund of $52,000 was awarded to the top 10 players of both categories. Chithambaram received the lion’s share of $12,000 and the Masters division championship trophy, while Gavrilov received $2,000.

In a speech during the awarding ceremony, Saeed Yousuf Shakari, Secretary General of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club and technical director of the tournament, praised the significant support of the Dubai Sports Council headed by Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the club’s various initiatives and the development of talented players through participation in various national and international competitions. He thanked the players for the high level of competition during the event, as well as the arbitration team headed by Emirati International Arbiter Mahdi Abdulrahim for their success in managing the international matches.

This year’s edition attracted 172 players from 46 countries, including more than 100 titled players and 52 grandmasters.



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