Dubai: Dominating wins in the first and second rounds propelled Team Lasker to the top of the standings in the 2nd FCPL-UAE Cup, the annual team championship of the UAE-based Filipino Chess Players League being held at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
Team Lasker, which ranked last in the previous year’s inaugural edition of the tournament, made good on its promise of a much-better performance this year after shutting out defending champion Team Kramnik, 7-0, in the first round, with two adjourned games still to be completed.
In the second round over the weekend, Lasker outpointed its fellow cellar-dweller last year, Team Fischer, 6-3, to hike its total to 13 points.
“After last year’s dismal performance, our players were really determined to make a bigger impact this year and I’m very pleased that they have delivered so far,” said Marcelino Aurelio, Lasker team manager and vice-president of FCPL-UAE. “Anything can still happen with three rounds more to go as other teams are also just warming up. But we will definitely stay focused and competitive in each round and with each game.”
He added that the annual championship is being held for the first time at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club and that games will be streamed live on FCPL-UAE's Facebook page.
Team Steinitz, which placed second last year, trails the leaders with 10.5 points, while Team Spassky and Team Carlsen are at joint third with nine points each. Team Fischer has seven points, while Kramnik has had an unfortunate start with just 2.5 points.
The round-robin tournament features six teams named after world chess champions. Each team is composed of nine regular players and three reserves. The succeeding rounds will be played on October 6 and 27 and November 17, with the awarding ceremony on December 8.
“FCPL-UAE has been one of the most active expat chess groups in the UAE and we are therefore delighted to host the biggest and most important tournament of the group,” said Yahya Mohammad Saleh, planning and development manager of the club. “This is our first collaboration with the group and we look forward to more projects and involve more players from different chess organisations in Dubai.”