International Master (IM) Ibrahim Sultan receives the champion's cup after ruling this year’s UAE Men’s Chess Championship to capture his first major national men’s title. Image Credit: Supplied

International Master (IM) Ibrahim Sultan ruled this year’s UAE Men’s Chess Championship to capture his first major national men’s title. 

A former junior standout from Dubai who reigned as the UAE’s under-20 champion last year, Sultan announced his entry into the big league as he finished ahead of veteran campaigners IM Omar Noaman and Fide Master (FM) Jasem Alhuwar, who both represented Sharjah and settled for the runner-up spots.

Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Wafia Darwish Al Maamari of Al Ain was crowned this year’s UAE women’s champion, finishing ahead of WCM Abeer Ali of Sharjah and Woman International Master (WIM) Amna Nouman of Dubai.

Players from Dubai walked away with the most titles at this year’s national championships, claiming four first-place finishes.

Apart from Sultan, other Dubai champions were Ali Abdulaziz, who succeeded Sultan as the UAE’s new under-20 champion, Mariam Essa in the girls’ under-18 and Hala Gamal Amin in the girls’ under-10.

Ibrahim Al Bannai, president of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, said the solid performance of the Dubai players this year is a result of rigid training organised by the club throughout the year.

“However, our ambition is much greater, especially among the youth,” said Al Bannai, adding that the club aims to develop new talents who will represent the country in international competitions.

Abu Dhabi and Sharjah each won three titles during the competition. WCM Rouda Essa Alserkal ruled the girls’ under-20 to lead Abu Dhabi’s campaign, with FM Omran Al Hosani and Latifah Darmaki delivering the other gold medals in the under-16 open division and the girls’ under-12 respectively.

The winners from Sharjah were Hamad Essam (open under-14), Soud Jaber (open under-10) and Aisha Saif Al Ali (girls’ under-14).

Representatives from Al Ain picked up two tites courtesy of Al Maamari and Amal Fadel Alshamsi in the girls’ under-16.

Fujairah also won two titles with Candidate Master (CM) Khalifah Khaled topping the open under-12 and Salim Jasim Alblooshi ruling the open under-8. Hour Naser Al Nuaimi delivered Ras Al Khaimah’s only gold medal by winning the girls’ under-8 category.

Meanwhile, as competition in the UAE’s age-group categories heat up, Al Bannai also announced that Dubai is recruiting two new coaches to train up-and-coming Emirati youth players.

The new coaches will work under the supervision of Najeeb Saleh, the club’s technical director who oversees Dubai’s youth chess training programme, and will join other coaches at the Dubai Chess Academy.