Jumabayev claims sole leadership in Dubai Open Chess Tournament

Top two seeds, former Dubai champion and a giant-slaying teenager in the chasing pack

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Rinat Jumabayev at the Dubai Open on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)
Rinat Jumabayev at the Dubai Open on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)

By Team KT

Published: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 10:31 PM

Rinat Jumabayev climbed to the top of the standings after the grandmaster from Kazakhstan scored an emphatic win on Wednesday night against Indian GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in the fifth round of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Now the only player to win all his matches, Jumabayev is chased by a group of four players who have 3.5 points each – the top two seeds GM Alexandr Predke of Russia and GM Arjun Erigaisi of India, who both scored quick victories against strong opposition, 1999 Dubai Open champion GM Vladimir Akopian, who defeated former Asian champion GM S.P. Sethuraman, and the giant-slaying teenager, Fide Master (FM) Ayush Sharma, who defeated sixth-seed GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu to claim his third GM scalp in a row.

“There are very strong players behind me, so there is still a big battle ahead,” Jumabayev told Khaleej Times of his chances of winning his first title in Dubai. “So I just try to take it one game at a time.”

Jumabayev employed the Closed variation against Praggnanandhaa’s Sicilian Defence, but did not get anything meaningful out of the opening. Things, however, started to turn in his favour when Praggnanandhaa tried to eke out more from a roughly equal position.

“I thought I was slightly better. I had a little pressure, but he made all the right moves and I realised that I had nothing more than equality,” Jumabayev said.

Praggnanandhaa gave up a pawn on the 31st move to create pressure around white’s king, but the young Indian was too timid in the follow-up, giving the Kazakh time to consolidate his advantage.

“I didn’t like (the move) h6 that he played. It was too slow. The position is quite complicated and he is a pawn down, so he should have tried to create something fast,” said Jumabayev.

In a swashbuckling line of the fashionable Queen’ Gambit, Predke followed a game that had been tested at the highest levels, including the world champion Magnus Carlsen himself, where the white-wielding Russian launched a king hunt with his queen and bishop and the black monarch had fled to the edge of the queenside.

While black may have still been fine, with nothing but his dark-squared bishop developed and his king precariously placed on the b6 square, Indjic ultimately lost his way in the maelstrom of complications and lost in 21 moves.

Erigaisi, meanwhile, climbed to number 18 in the live world rankings and the second highest rated player in India behind five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand following his win over Azerbaijan’s GM Mahammad Muradli.

Erigaisi returns to the top board as he tries to unseat Jumabayev in Thursday’s sixth round.

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