The fifth edition of the Dubai Open Chess Championship for the Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup will be held from April 20 to 30 at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

"We have invited reputed players from all over the world and this time we will have players from Europe and even South Africa playing in this event," remarked Ibrahim Al Bannai, chairman of the Dubai Chess and Club at a press conference held at the chess club premises yesterday.

The Dubai Open Chess Championship was initiated in 1999 by the Dubai Chess Club with the aim of giving exposure to young talent in UAE and is today one of the most popular Open events in the world.

"The number of Grand Masters participating in the event has been increasing every year and this year we will have 48 of them playing in our event. It is undoubtedly the biggest Open tournament in Asia," he added.

The opening ceremony will be held just before the inaugural round. The Dubai Chess Club management has worked out elaborate plans to attract the best players in the game by providing excellent incentives and facilities.

"We have a total prize fund of $ 3500. For the players from the UAE it is a golden opportunity to test their skills against the top ranking grand masters of the world. So we have now the best players from Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Iran, India, Azherbaijan, Georgia, Germany, South Africa, Byleorussia, Kazakhastan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Syria, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia. The national team of Emirates, top club players and many coaches will also be participating," he said.

Al Bannai also revealed that the awards will increase next year significantly. "We have instituted special awards to encourage local talent and the event will be covered live on Internet," he said.

FIDE official Casto Abundo will be the chief arbiter. Madhi Rahim of the UAE has been named as the deputy arbiter.

Naji Mohammed Saleh (UAE) and Mohammed Abdullah (Somalia) are the other arbiters for the event.

The inaugural event was won by Grand master Vladmir Akopian and in 2000 Grandmaster Nenashev Alexander lifted the title.

The 2001 event title went to Asrian Karen of Armenia and the 2002 produced a surprise winner in Alexander Golbochov of Ukraine. The event is being sponsored by Dugas, Dubai National Bank and Trade Centre.

"We express our gratitude to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry for his great patronage and vision to make Dubai the centre of international chess," concluded Al Bannai.