Khalid Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Tarim Matar, Mohammad Al Hussaini, Indian Grandmaster Arvindh Chitambaram and other dignitaries during the presentation ceremony.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Grandmaster Arvindh Chitambaram of India was crowned champion of the 22nd Dubai Open Chess Tournament.
He defeated Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in Round 9 to clinch the title.
He received the trophy during the awarding ceremony that took place at the Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Hall of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club in Al Mamzar on Sunday.
The closing ceremony was attended by Khalid Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Chairman of the club’s board of directors, Tarim Matar, President of the UAE Chess Federation, and members of the club’s board of directors.
In a speech during the ceremony, tournament director Saeed Yousuf Shakari praised the strong support extended by the Dubai Sports Council to the club and its various chess programmes, and for supporting the development of Emirati chess talents and their participation in tournaments in the UAE and outside the country.
He also commended all the participants for the high level of competition and exciting matches during tournament, and the arbitration team, headed by the Emirati International Arbiter (IA) Mahdi Abdulrahim.
Chitambaram, who started as the tournament’s 13th seed, finished alone at the top with 7.5 points after a draw in the final round with his compatriot GM Praggnanandhaa.
Top-seed GM Alexandr Predke of Russia and Praggnanandhaa finished with seven points, but the Russian claimed second place with a higher tiebreak score, relegating Praggnanandhaa to third.
Predke had a chance to tie Chitambaram for first place and even win the tournament with a higher tiebreak score over the Indian, but the Russian could only manage a draw in his game against GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt.
“It’s always nice playing in Dubai,” said Chitambaram, who had been a guest at a friend’s house during his stay in the emirate. “The conditions are great and it’s a brilliant venue.”
Chitambaram had nursed a slight edge against Praggnanandhaa, but eventually conceded to a draw by repetition of moves when the fourth-seed Praggnanandhaa was able to mount a dangerous counterattack against the white king.
“The position was equal, so I had to take a draw,” Chitambaram said.
“I’ve not done too well in any of the Dubai tournaments before, but this one came out a surprise, like I cannot believe that I won the championship.”
Chitambaram received $13,000 and a championship trophy during the awarding ceremony, while the rest of the top 15 players also received cash prizes.
Three other players finished with seven points: the tournament’s 2011 champion GM Abhijeet Gupta, IM Sammed Jaykumar Shete and former Asian champion GM Sethuraman S.P., who finished fourth to sixth in that order.
Gupta defeated GM Sandipan Chanda, Shete upset Armenia’s GM Aram Hakobyan after over four and a half hours of play in one of the two last games to finish in the tournament, and Sethuraman outplayed IM Das Arghyadip.
IM Omran Al Hosani received the Best Emirati Player award, while India’s WGM Divya Deshmukh took the Best Female award. Indian players, meanwhile, took the rating category prizes: Panda Sambit (under 2400), Sanket Chakravarty (under 2300), Ayush Sharma (under 2200), Raghav Srivathsav V (under 2100), and Joel Paul Ganta (under 2000).
Nine-year-old Rami Talab from Syria earned the most rating points in the tournament, adding 142 points to his international rating, followed by Kuwait’s Meshal Alhejab with 138 points, and India’s Rohit S. with 116 points.
Khalid Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Chairman of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, congratulated Chitambaram for joining the elite list of Dubai Open champions. The event was back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Falasi underlined the very strong field of the tournament and the high level of competitiveness with the leadership changing hands in almost every round.
He added that the success of the tournament’s 22nd edition serves as a strong motivation to continue to enhance the event and attract even more top players to achieve the club’s ultimate goal of developing the sport in the UAE and nurturing new talents in the country.
Tarim Matar Tarim, President of the UAE Chess Federation, congratulated the management of the Dubai Chess Club on the great success of the tournament. He said events such as Abu Dhabi International, Dubai Open, Sharjah Masters and more have put the UAE prominently on the international chess calendar.