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Round 2 of Lebanese Individual Chess Championship 2013 – Final Stage

The tigress hold down the lion’s assault

The encounter between the highest seeded player and the lowest seeded one is always interesting. If we add that each one of them has to his credit a lot of prestigious titles, you will be sure that all the feelings that a chess player feels during the battle are boiling inside the contenders. That is what I noticed on the faces of Faisal Khairallah and Maya Jalloul; the tension of the game was clear, especially that Maya adopted the King’s Indian defense against 1.d4 opening move of Faisal. I couldn’t imagine how Maya was going to hold the balance without her light squares bishop, and facing a mounting pressure as Faisal was improving his position step by step, waiting to launch the killing move at the appropriate moment. And this moment presented itself after the 19th move of Maya, where a tactical exchange on the center could present White with a win of the exchange. Just one move to underestimate was enough for the second player to escape from a defeat, and even started to take the initiative. Faisal’s offer of draw at a critical moment was accepted, stopping the agony that either of them could suffer from.

On board 1, a side line of the Catalan/ Slav setup was adopted between Dr. Mahmoud Maasarani and Ahmad Najjar. An early exchange of queens entered the game into technical endgame phase, with a lot of pieces still on the board. A couple of imprecise moves by White enabled Ahmad to net a pawn. Then a battle between Maasarani’s 2 bishops and Najjar ‘s 2 knights ended in the later’ s favor, when a black passed pawn would be impossible to stop it from queening, forcing White to resign.

What we can call the clash on board 2 between Antoine Kassis and Ibrahim Chahrour? A dazzling battle? A kamikaze sacrificing game? I am trying to find a more suitable  word than (fighting) or (exciting). The grand-Prix attack variation of the Sicilian defense was the title of the Opening. But who was attacking who? Instead of the theoretical 8..Nxf3+, followed by 9..d4, gaining some space on the dark squares, Ibrahim chose 8..dxe4, clearing some central light squares. That exchange pushed Tony to fall into a deep thought, resulting in execution of an attacking plan, based on forcing the Black king to reside in the center. The reaction of Ibrahim was an excellent example of what this young player can produce on the board. He defended very well, and even stared generating threats against Tony’s king and queen sides, using his powerful bishop on b7 and the semi-open g-file. Tony had to defend for a while, forcing the game to enter for a short period the maneuvering phase. Till, suddenly, Tony’ sacrifice 29.Bxe6 came as a thunder in a calm weather, creating numerous threats against Ibrahim’s king. Instead of playing the winning move (36..Qe7!!) controlling his 7th rank, and threatening the h4 pawn in certain mating lines, he played 36..Rd2, a move that seeks counter-threats. Tony took the opportunity to land his rook on f7, and bagged in few moves the point.

Another exciting battle occurred on board 3 between AbdelAziz ElMahmoud and Bassel Charaf. An English opening adopted by White, with some exchange of couple of pieces on the c5 square produced a double pawn formation on Black’s queenside, followed by another exchange on c6 square made took the game into a wild jungle: a  position with a triple pawn. Some may say that it is a weakness in the pawn structure, while others will have different opinion and see the dynamic factors resulting from this picturesque position: 2 semi-open files, control of the adjacent squares, not to mention the extra development of the black pieces and the retire development of some the white ones. After some imprecise moves by both parties, Bassel initiated an attack on White’s king, who seek refuge on the Queen side, then back to the center, a good strategy that enabled White to stabilize the position for a while, with exchange a head for a couple of pawns. The resulting endgame was full of dynamism, that both players, due to mutual time trouble, missed a lot of chances, especially on move 55, where 55..Kd5 was played resulting in a draw after few moves (instead of the highly technical 55..Bd1!! winning).

The story of the (one missing move) repeated itself in the board 4 game between Tarek Moudallal and Amr El Jawich. Getting out of theory as soon as possible was the strategy adopted by Tarek and was a successful one, resulting in an advantageous position against Amr’s French setup. Just one imprecise move was what Amr in a need in order to seek his first counter-play, a move that let him forking the White’s king and knight, forcing Tarek to stop the clock.

Fighting the Modern defense 1..g6 with the ultra-aggressive 2.h4 was the strategy adopted my Marwan Nassar against Nadim Hammoud on board 6. Nadim reacted correctly on the center, developed harmoniously his pieces, and even obtained a promising position, forcing Marwan to defend. Several opportunities to take a draw by move repetition were rejected my Nadim. In time troucle, the (one move) story repeated itself: instead of eliminating the only active white knight on d4, Nadim blundered by 33..e6??, the only opportunity that Marwan grasped immediately by sacrificing his knight on that specific square, leading to material win or mat, forcing Nadim to resign.

SNo. Name Rtg Res. Name Rtg SNo.
12 Maasarani Mahmoud 2109 0  -  1 FM Najjar Ahmad 2263 7
8 FM Kassis Antoine 2166 1  -  0 FM Chahrour Ibrahim 1980 6
9 CM Abdulaziz Mahmoud 2074 ½  -  ½ Bassel Charaf 2070 5
10 Moudallal Tarek 1968 0  -  1 FM El Jawich Amro 2173 4
11 FM Khairallah Faisal 2271 ½  -  ½ WFM Jalloul Maya M. 1942 3
1 Nassar Marwan 2091 1  -  0 Hammoud Nadim 1944 2



Click here to download the games.

NB:As it is a Round Robin system,  the boards numbers have no relation to the strength or the standing of the players. They were the result of the withdrawal of the players’ numbers during the technical meeting, which differentiates from the Swiss pairing system, where the highest rated player is seeded as number 1, etc..

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