Dubai Open Chess: Five-way tie at the top

Dubai Open Chess: Five-way tie at the top

Howell and Grandelius drew their Queen’s Gambit in 30 moves as they reached an equal minor piece endgame to tally 4.5 points each.



Top seed GM David Howell of England (right) plays GM Nils Grandelius of Sweden. — Supplied photos

Dubai — GMs Vladimir Fedoseev of Russia, Alexander Shabalov of the USA and Andrei Istratescu of France beat their respective opponents to share a five-way tie for the lead with GM David Howell of England and GM Nils Grandelius of Sweden after five rounds of the 17th Dubai Open Chess at the Dubai Chess Club.

Howell and Grandelius drew their Queen’s Gambit in 30 moves as they reached an equal minor piece endgame to tally 4.5 points each. Fedoseev smashed the Sicilian Scheveningen of erstwhile co-leader Yuri Solodovnichenko of Ukraine. The Russian penetrated with his rook on the seventh rank and threatened checkmate in 29 moves.

Shabalov, formerly of Latvia and a 4-time US Champion, used the Caro Kann defense and embarked on a kingside pawn storm. He capitalised on the back rank weakness of his opponent to win material and force resignation on the 39th move.

Istratescu, former Romanian champion now representing France, used the Sicilian Defense against GM Gabor Papp of Hungary. Papp essayed the Maroczy bind and Istratescu sacrificed the exchange for the bishop pair. In the ensuing endgame, Papp could not halt the advance of Istratescu’s queenside passed pawns and resigned on the 49th move.

Twelve players follow with four points each in the race for the Shaikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup and a top purse of $12,000 out of a total of $50,000 in cash prizes.

A field of 150 players from 39 countries are competing with 39 Grandmasters, eight Woman Grandmasters, 22 International Masters, 3 woman International masters, 13 FIDE Masters and three Woman FIDE Masters. India has the biggest delegation with 31 players followed by the host UAE with 25 players.

Meanwhile, Fedoseev, 20, is currently ranked third in the world list of top juniors. He won the Dubai Blitz Championship in Friday’s rest day, the only player to remain undefeated with 10 points out of 11 rounds of the blitz tournament.

Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan placed second with 8.5 points followed by four players in a tie for third place with 8 points each, namely, GMs Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine, Igor Kovalenko of Latvia, Sergei Zhigalko of Belarus and Tigran Petrosian of Armenia.


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