Friday, July 03, 2009
24 June 2009
DUBAI - Samer Mehdi completed a sweep of his last four assignments capped by a final-round victory over the tournament’s erstwhile unbeaten solo-leader to crown himself champion of the June edition of the FCPL Monthly Open Chess Tournament, which was held on Friday at Reef Mall in Dubai, a press release said.
The fifth-seeded Iranian held off the aggression of the Filipino player Rolenson Loyola in the ultimate seventh round to pick up the full point and wrest the overall title from the latter.
After winning all his games in the six previous rounds, Loyola, a pre-tournament favourite, distanced himself by a full point over the rest of the field going into the final round and needed just a quiet draw against Mehdi to rule the weekend blitz chess event organised by the Filipino Chess Players League-UAE and supported by Reef Mall.
But having the advantage of the first move with the white pieces against Mehdi, Loyola apparently could not resist the temptation to mix it up, which unfortunately backfired as Mehdi pounced hard when the deposed round-six leader uncharacteristically committed a slew of errors in the middlegame, allowing the Iranian to create a pair of powerful, game-deciding passed pawns and nail the victory in the endgame.
With the win, Mehdi matched Loyola’s six-point total and was awarded the championship by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule, relegating Loyola to the runner-up spot.
“The exciting and entertaining matches and unpredictable results are typical of blitz chess tournaments wherein players are given just a few minutes to complete a game. It is quite nerve-wracking but is also very entertaining,” said Larry Dolor, the FCPL vice-president who served as the one-day tournament’s arbiter.
“It is very encouraging to see participants enjoying a weekend of fun and relaxation by playing in the chess events that we organise. We are really grateful that they continue to patronise our activities and we are also thankful to Reef Mall for allowing us to use their facilities and the venue.”
Taking third with 5.5 points was Jobannie C. Tabada, the second-seeded Filipino player who needed a win in the final round to tie the tournament winner’s six-point tally, but instead found himself being saved by a miracle draw in an otherwise losing position against India’s Santhosh.
P. Tabada made an inaccurate queen sacrifice for two minor pieces in the middlegame, but Santhosh reacted poorly in the ensuing play and even managed to blunder away his own queen. The game subsequently drifted to a theoretically drawn endgame with opposite-coloured bishops.
Upsets also rocked the rest of the matches with 13th-seed Marcelo Payoket and 10th-seed Jumar Abo taking the fourth and fifth spots after defeating fourth-seed Rocky Pabalan and sixth-seed Johny P I respectively. Rounding out the top 10 players were Sumith K S, Santhosh, Ronald Pernez, Barry Repollo and Pabalan.
Special prizes were also awarded to top scorers in three rating categories — Hermie Cagatin (1900 below), Gerry Lababo (1800 below) and Edie Dural (1700 below) — and to Indian player Sudharsan Surya as the top scorer among kiddie participants.