Dubai: Grandmaster (GM) Salem Saleh continued his hot streak in the local chess circuit after leading team “Grandmasters” to a championship finish in the Dubai Blitz Team Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
Saleh, the highest-rated player in the tournament who won the Allegiance to Zayed Chess Tournament earlier this month, picked up crucial wins in the final two rounds to help his teammates maintain a slim half-point edge over their nearest pursuers.
Apart from the Emirati ace player, team Grandmasters also featured GM Konstantin Landa of Russia and GM Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia. Each team in the nine-round Swiss system event was allowed two regular players and one reserve.
Despite the power-packed line-up, the road to the championship was not as smooth sailing as expected as the top-seeded team Grandmasters was upset in the fifth round by team Checkmate, with Landa bowing to Egypt’s International Master Fouad Al Taher and Sargissian settling for a draw with Spanish GM Viktor Moskalenko.
After yielding the leadership briefly, team Grandmasters rebounded forcefully by winning their last four matches to raise their final tally to 15.5 points. Team Checkmate wound up second with 15 points, while team DXD, bannered by UAE national team veterans IM Saeed Ishaq and Fide Master Othman Moussa, finished third with 13 points.
Team Filipinas’ Marlon Mortel, Marvin Marcos and Francis Erwin Dimarucut and team Egypt-Syria’s Sameir Ramez and Rafee Mohd Hayel tied for fourth to fifth with 12.5 points.
Team Absolute Beginners, consisting of Woman International Master Ljilja Drljevic and Woman Grandmaster Andjelija Stojanovic, who briefly led the tournament in the fifth round, placed sixth with 12 points.
A total of 42 teams, comprising 108 players from 19 countries, took part in the two-day tournament, which was organised as part of the club’s Ramadan activities.