Dubai: After dominating a strong international round-robin event and claiming his first international master (IM) norm in the process last month, Fide Master (FM) Saeed Ishaq went on to stamp his class on the local chess circuit by winning the UAE National Rapid Chess Championship 2017 that was held recently in Fujairah.
Ishaq, the highest-rated player of the event, finished with an unbeaten eight points on seven wins and two draws, to earn the championship cup by a comfortable one-point lead over second-seed IM Omar Noaman.
Ishaq’s win completes Dubai’s sweep of both national rapid chess titles this year after Woman International Master (WIM) Amna Noaman won the ladies’ tournament held in Ras Al Khaimah in January. Ishaq and Amna Noaman, along with junior player IM Ibrahim Sultan, had signed incentive contracts with the Dubai Chess and Culture Club in January.
“The back-to-back victories by Saeed Ishaq in the Dubai Closed Masters and now the UAE National Rapid Championship, along with Amna Noaman’s triumphant campaign in the National Ladies Rapid Championship, are clear signs that we are progressing in the right direction with our training program,” said Yahya Mohammad Saleh, Dubai Chess and Culture Club’s planning and development manager who oversees the training and development program of the players under contract with the club.
“However, there is a lot of work to be done as we are only in the early stages of our partnership with these players. We have planned more tournament exposure for them this year and we hope that their success will inspire more people to support and take up the sport.”
Ishaq defeated teammate IM Ibrahim Sultan in the final round, while Omar Noaman won over untitled Ali Abdulaziz to claim second place via tiebreak over FM Jasem Alhuwar. Alhuwar battled Ishaq neck-and-neck until the final round, where both players sat at the top of the field with seven points each, but a fatal final-round loss to FM Ammar Sedrani relegated Alhuwar to third place.
Sedrani claimed fourth place with 6.5 points. Zayed Ali Al Hamed and Candidate Master (CM) Omran Al Hosani also had 6.5 points but dropped to fifth and sixth respectively with inferior tiebreak scores.
Sultan, FM Othman Moussa and Ali Rashid Ali had six points apiece to finish at joint seventh to ninth places. FM Marshool Hamdan, who had the highest tiebreak among a large group of 5.5-pointers, rounded out the top 10 players.
The tournament attracted more than 50 of the UAE’s top chess players. The nine-round event allotted a thinking time of 15 minutes plus a 10-second increment per move.