«Dubai Open Chess Tournament 2016». In His Highness' company

After running the Asian Team Championships, the hospitable sheiks decided not to stop at trifles and to offer chess fans another delightful present, in the form of a strong open tournament. Thus, on Monday 11 April, His Highness Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoun, deputy ruler of Dubai and Finance Minister of the UAE, personally opened the «Dubai Open Chess Tournament 2016», already the 18th such event.  

This year sets a new record - almost 190 players (just one short) from 42 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Thanks to the excellent financial conditions and high standard of the organisation, the Dubai Open has secured a reputation as the strongest open in the world (apart from Gibraltar, Aeroflot and this year the Grenke). This year's is no exception: 47 GMs (another record!) plus seven WGMs, 37 IMs and 6 WIMs. 24 of the GMs are rated over 2600. (according to material on the official site)

Although there are no 2700s, the line-up is still excellent. As early as the second round, players of similar strength were meeting each other, which is completely unlike the character of most open events. 

Ahuja Rohan – David Howell

21… d3! - Sacrificing itself, the brave soldier creates havoc in White's camp. 22.Bxd3 Qxd3 23.Rad1 Nb4 24.Rxd3 Nxd3 25.Qa1 Nxe1 26.Qxe1 Nd6 27.Qf1 Nxb5 28.cxb5 Rac8 29.f5 Rc2 30.a4 Ree2

The black rooks rule the enemy roost and the fate of the game is decided. 31.Qd1 Bxf5 32.Nxf5 Rg2 33.Kf1 Rcf2 34.Ke1 Rg1 – and after playing a few more moves out of inertia, the Indian player stopped the clocks (0:1).

But power does not always triumph, despite the old saying. There are exceptions, such as the energetic play and enterprise that brought White success in the following game: 

Robert Ris – Yuriy Kuzubov

15.Rae1!? – This appears to be a novelty! Was it deep preparation or just improvisation by the 20 year old Dutchman? 15…Bxe5 16.Bxe5 Rf7 17.Qh5 Kg8 18.Re3 Bd7 19.Rh3 h6 20.Rg3 Rf6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6 – «Fortune favours the brave!» The exchange is regained and it is White who ends up with a material advantage:  22.Rg6 Qf7 23.Qxh6 b5 24.Bb3 Re8 25.h4 a5 26.a3 Kf8 27.Qg5 Re7 28.h5 Be8

White could secure his advantage with 29.Qf4, but preferred to play differently. Later, Black got good chances of saving the game, but Yuri failed to put up stubborn resistance (1:0) «The main thing nowadays is not correctness, but the danger and difficulty posed for the defender. A strange opening choice by Kuzubov, with 200 rating points difference (Vlad Tkachev) 

Indian stubbornness from Debashis limited the top seed to no more than half a point.

As always, emancipation proceeds: Lilit Galoyan drew with Anton Korobov in the same round!

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Text: Sergey Kim