GM Eltaj Safarli snatches tournament’s first point to lead 24th Dubai Open Chess Tournament

gm eltaj safarli snatches tournament’s first point to lead 24th dubai open chess tournament

Back row from left: Abdul Karim Almarzooqi, general secretary of the UAE Chess Federation, Amal Al Arif, Dubai Chess and Culture Club board member, Khalid Zayed, Dubai Chess and Culture Club chairman, and tournament director Othman Musa Abdullah - Supplied photo

Former Azerbaijan national champion and coach Grandmaster (GM) Eltaj Safarli scored the first point of the tournament after a quick 30-move demolition of Greek GM Efstratios Grivas in the opening round of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament Saturday night at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

While the other matches were still heating up, Safarli was already looking forward to the next day’s second round as he outplayed Grivas from the white side of a Sicilian — Rossolimo Attack.

Safarli, who like the legendary former world champion Garry Kasparov was born in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, pounced on a blunder on the 26th move to win a full piece and force Grivas, a prolific chess author and long-time trainer based in the UAE, to resign four moves later.

The tournament top-seed and Safarli’s countryman GM Teimour Radjabov, another product of Baku, was held to a draw by Al Ain-based Georgian chess coach International Master (IM) Giorgi Sibashvili, who held his own against the former World Cup champion and World Championship Candidates Tournament contender despite a 300-point rating difference.

The other top-10 seeds who picked up wins were teenage second-seed GM Raunak Sadhwani of India, sixth-seed GM Velimir Ivić of Serbia, and 10th-seed S.P. Sethuraman of India.

Sadhwani dismantled Bangladeshi FM Reja Neer Manon’s Caro-Kann Defense, Ivić unleashed a tactical flourish on the 32nd move to win a piece and defeat the 2022 World Girls U-20 Champion Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Govhar Beydullayeva of Azerbaijan, while Sethuraman showed his mastery of the fashionable London System from the black side in a win against the up-and-coming Iranian youth player Seyed Kian Poormosavi.

The biggest casualty of the day was fifth-seed GM Jakhongir Vakhidov, the Olympiad gold medallist who was outplayed in the endgame by the untitled Chinese player Wang Yanbin.

The tournament will resume with the second round on Sunday from 5pm.

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