x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Check, mate at Dubai Open Chess Championship

Ten-day battle of strategy and tactics culminates in showdown between two close friends.

Tania Sachdev, an International Master chess player from India, makes a move against her opponent yesterday at the 13th Dubai Open Chess Championship, where $45,000 in prize money was handed out. Charles Crowell for The National
Tania Sachdev, an International Master chess player from India, makes a move against her opponent yesterday at the 13th Dubai Open Chess Championship, where $45,000 in prize money was handed out. Charles Crowell for The National

DUBAI // A 10-day battle of strategy and tactics culminated last night in a showdown between two close friends.

Abhijeet Gupta, 21, from India, was pitted against Parimarjan Negi for the US$8,000 (Dh29,380) top prize in the 13th Dubai Open Chess Championship, a major international tournament that attracted 165 players from around the world, with $45,000 in prize money.

Mr Negi needed only a draw to win the title and the top prize. But Mr Gupta, a former world junior champion, used the Queen's Gambit and gained a Bishop on the 29th move, forcing resignation two moves later. He won by half a point.

"It's not easy to play against a friend," said Mr Gupta, who began playing at the age of six. "But I had to go for the kill and he cracked under pressure."

It was his seventh time playing at the Dubai Open. "This championship attracts a number of top players from around the world," he said. "There are not many opens held in the world with huge prize money and the strongest players."

Mr Gupta was undefeated in the tournament, scoring six wins and three draws against opponents from countries including Iran, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Ehsan Ghaemmaghami, 28, from Iran, who holds the Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous games - 614 at the same time - won first place in the Blitz category of the championship, in which games last just over three minutes.

He won a trophy and $1,000.

"I wanted to take part in the whole open, but had visa problems and therefore could not come into the country on time," he said.

"I would have liked to have played against some of the world's finest players again."

The Dubai Chess and Culture Club is one of the largest dedicated chess clubs in the world.

ealghalib@thenational.ae