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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Qatar Chess Masters: Cool Upsets, Super Website!

Hello chess blog friends, the Qatar Chess Masters - strongest chess open tournament ever - was off to a great a start on Wednesday. Not only were there upsets, but surprising draws as well. Here is the  Round 1 report via the official website (And trust us, that's an excellent site for the event! The reports are excellent, videos and photos cool and all the games are so easily accessible.):

Round 1 and first upsets

The first round on November 26th was definitely a start of the new era in chess open tournaments as the Qatar Masters Open 2014 became the first of a kind, strongest open tournament in the history of chess. 154 players rated 2200 and above are taking part - nearly hundred grandmasters, fourteen are from 2700+ “elite” level, three former World Champions: Vladimir Kramnik from Russia, Antoaneta Stefanova from Bulgaria and Zhu Chen from a hosting country – Qatar. Players from 40 countries are fighting for $110 000 prize fund, including 20 main prizes with $25 000 first prize, which will be decided in Play-Off in case of a tie; 5 prizes for women ($5 000 first) and 5 for best Arabic players ($3 500 first).

Vladimir Kramnik

With such strong participants even the first round didn’t seem like easy-winning for the rating leaders, nevertheless online spectators were amazed and highly entertained by the amount of upsets happened. Almost a half of 2600+ rated players couldn’t win their first game in the tournament, and even second-seeded Vladimir Kramnik couldn’t get more than a half point against GM Stelios Halkias from Greece.

But the biggest surprises were waiting for us in the battles on 7th and 9th boards. Not that kind of a Birthday gift Baadur Jobava probably expected to get from his compatriot, currently second highest rated female player in Georgia GM Bela Khotenashvili.

Known as a tactical player, Bela prepared well in the opening and didn’t try to “dry out” the position with Black pieces but searching for attacking opportunities. After just a couple of inaccuracies Baadur already found himself in positional troubles and was outplayed before the first time-control.

Another upset of the day was in the game of GM Arkadij Naiditsch against young talented player from India Ankit Rajpara. Playing with black pieces, Ankit managed to find a very interesting plan in the opening, moving the Knight from f5 to h6 and then back to g8 square with an idea to support the rook h8 attacking king’s side with h-pawn.

Arkadij probably underestimated the threat and later on got into a severe time-trouble trying to defend his king. However Indian prodigy played very high level of chess, and his “brilliant” (by GM Daniel King) 20…Bg3 can probably be nominated for “the move of the day” award, according to our commentators Daniel King and Simon Williams.

Another interesting game was played by Chinese GM Ding Liren against GM Mohammed Al-Sayed from Qatar. 8.g4 with immediate attack on king’s side caught the attention of the audience.

Lower rated Qatari player defended very well and created counter play on queen’s side, but unluckily he overlooked queens trade with winning an important pawn by Chinese and couldn’t manage to hold the game.

Some interesting comments about the other games will be published soon, stay tuned!

Meanwhile you may check the second round pairings, replay all games or have a look at the photos of the first round.

And, of course, don't forget to watch games live and enjoy video broadcast of the Second round!

Report by Maria Emelianova,
Pictures by the official photographers Dmitry Rukhletskiy and Maria Emelianova.

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