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8th Mediterranean Individual (Classic & Rapid) Championships

Under the patronage of the President of Lebanon, his Excellency Michel Suleiman, and of Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

8th Mediterranean Individual (Classic & Rapid) Championships:

A Big Creditable Success for the LCF

That is the least of what I can say about the first international big event of which the Lebanese Chess Federation new board started with it the New Year. It was a big gift for the Lebanese chess lovers to get profit from, and a 9-days break from our tensional surrounding.

Before starting by round up journey of the event, let me apologize to our readers for my incapability of cover the championship during its scheduled rounds, on a daily basis report, as I was honored by the LCF and MCA General Secretary and FIDE CEO Mr. Geoffrey Borg in assigning the position of Chief Arbiter for your servant.

The 5 stars Golden Tulip Galleria Hotel was the playing venue of the championship. The (Saidoun) playing hall was more than ideal to accommodate the 26 players in the 9-round Classic Championship, and the 92 (!!) players in the 7-round rapid one, not to mention the generous coffee-break and the delicious buffet and meals offered at the hotel restaurant for the guest players and the Lebanese ones alike, and the 2 special rooms reserved for the Lebanese players in case they need to get some rest or for private chess analytical work. In the (Classic) event, special wooden chess materials were used in the playing area, a side hall (Baalbek) was at the players’ disposal for post-game analysis, and all the necessary information e.g. pairing, standing, games, etc., were quickly uploaded on the new Lebanese federation website: lebanesechessfederation.com, making all those details an  invaluable plus to the championship. To summarize it in one word: Perfect.

Back to the play and the players. In the Classic Championship, 26 players from 7 different federations took part in it. The time control was: 40 moves in 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds per move. This means that the game duration could reach 5 hours, and this is the minimum requirement for a Fide event, and a WGM norm was possible to achieve.

The starting list, sorted by the corresponding Elo of the players was as follows:

SNo.   Name IRtg FED
1 IM Eid Fadi 2367 LIB
2 FM Pavlidis Anastasios 2351 GRE
3 FM Bakr Jwan 2296 SYR
4   Elarbi Abobker 2278 LBA
5 FM Najjar Ahmad 2271 LIB
6 IM Iyti Basher 2259 SYR
7 FM Asabri Hussien 2235 LBA
8 WIM Pavlidou Ekaterini 2218 GRE
9 CM Kassis Antoine 2217 LIB
10   Mansour Abdallah 2175 LBA
11 FM El Jawich Amro 2170 LIB
12   Mawed Moussa 2138 PLE
13   Maasarani Mahmoud 2108 LIB
14 CM Lebel Patrick 2074 MNC
15   Shamieh Jamal 2056 LIB
16 FM Al-Zayat Ahmed 2051 LBA
17 WFM Jalloul Maya M. 1946 LIB
18 WFM Makhlouf Youmna 1905 LIB
19 CM Khaled Lakki 1869 PLE
20   Al-Jelda Fatma 1847 SYR
21   Mouradian Suzan 1838 LIB
22   Baktach Nesrine 1759 TUN
23   Yagi Rita 1740 SYR
24   Bedrosian Danielle 1739 LIB
25   El Saleh Riham 1558 LIB
26   Abdelmoumen Ahmed 0 TUN

 

It seemed theoretically that the battle will be limited between the top 5 of the list for the first place. But one sign from the first round encounters was enough to declare that the first place is open for everybody.  The sign’s origin was the  draw (!) result of the game between Patrick Lebel from Monaco and Fadi Eid on the first board.

In the 10-AM-second round, the FM Anastasios Pavlidis played solidly on the first board against Antoine Kassis’ Vienna opening, when at move 40 both players reached an equal endgame. Then Kassis started playing some imprecise moves, enabling the Greek player to take the initiative and reach a winning rook endgame.

A King’s gambit opening was reached after a transposition of moves from another Vienna opening between Amr El Jawish and the Libyan player AlArabi AbouBakr. Then, suddenly, Amr sacrificed his g-pawn in order to open lines towards his opponent’s king. AbouBakr accepted the offer, defended well, and converted his advantage to a full point.

A draw was the result between Dr. Mahmoud Maasarani and the Syrian IM Baheer El Iyti.  As it is known, the Catalan opening gives its player a lasting advantage, even in the endgame. But Dr. Maasarani preferred to settle for a draw, most probably to save some energy for the afternoon round.

In round 3, all the eyes were focused on the board 1encounter Pavlidis-Najjar. A classical variation of the Queen’s gambit appeared on the board, which Ahmad treated the black side with his own improvise way. This gave Anastasios a clear middle game advantage, and had to pick up the winning line among several tempted ones. But he chose 22 Nxe8 (instead of 22 Nc4 with a tremendous attack), allowing Ahmad to be back in the game. Even with a pawn down, the rook ending remained balanced. Those turning points affected negatively the remaining time of the Greek player, who started making some mistakes in the ending, enabling Ahmad to win the game.

On the board 1 of the 4th round, the battle between the Syrian FM Jwan Bakr and Ahmad Najjar was a one-side game. Ahmad played an inferior line of Larsen line of the Svechnikov variation of the Sicilian defense. Jwan didn’t give his opponent any chance to untangle himself.

While the Vienna game was making nightmares for its users, as witnessed Amr ElJawish – Anastasios Pavlidis game, the chock of the round was Eid- Iyti encounter on board 2. After 1 e4 from Fadi, The Syrian player replied: 1…Nh6 (?!?), a move that even Fadi wrote it down as Nf6 on his score sheet, then scratched it down, and corrected it; a rare instance in Fadi’s career, as he is internationally famous for his meticulous handwritten moves.

In order to punish his opponent for his ugly (?!?) move, Fadi started an all-out attack against Basher’s king. But the later defended well, and even created some threats by its own, forcing Fadi to sacrifice the exchange to add some fuel on the fire, but in vain. Fadi’s clock marked (-0.00) when his position was beyond salvation. It was a bad round for the top boards Lebanese players.

The early morning round 5 games witnessed an early quick draw on board 1 between the Syrian Iyti and Bakr. Those released half-points enabled the other contenders a big jump forward, especially for Anastasios, after beating the Libyan Asabri Hussein, and for Fadi, after beating Ahmad in an exemplary endgame, worth as a lesson of converting a tiny advantage in the endgame, especially the role of  King, and which piece to exchange and which one to preserve on the board.

On board 6, WFM Maya Jalloul played with the black pieces a nice game against the Libyan Abdallah Mansour. She reached a winning rook endgame, but with just few seconds on her clock, she was forced to seed a draw.

In round 6, a draw on board one between Jwan and Anastasios, and another one on board two between AlArabi and AlIyti, made the favorite winner unclear, especially after the board 3 wild game between  Fadi and Ekatrini Pavlidou, Anastasios’ sister. An Open Sicilian with opposite side castling was on the agenda where each player was gunning the other’s king. But Fadi had the final word. On board 4, Amr tried to break Ahmad’ defense. He succeeded to a certain extent, but a boomerang was awaiting him.

Another tense round was the seventh one. On board 1, Fadi was facing the Chinese line of the Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defense of Jwan. Suddenly, Jwan blundered the a-pawn, then tried his best to save the game, but Fadi was up to the task, and his technique didn’t let him down. On board 2, Basher adopted with the black pieces the Modern-Scandinavian hybrid defense against Anastasios. The activities of the black pieces enabled Basher to reach an active and dominant endgame, which netted him 2 pawns. Anastasios tried to save his position, but in vain.

While Ahmad couldn’t overcome AlArabi defense, and Antoine Kassis couldn’t overcome Jamal Shamiyeh’ Sokolsky opening,

Amr used the King’s Indian defense to beat Mansour in a nice game, model of his style.

In round 8, playing White against Fadi, AlArabi adopted the solid London system against Fadi’s Chigorin defense. A balanced middle game was reached, where neither side can take any risk at this critical juncture. On the other hand, on its neighbor table, Ahmad tried with the black pieces to break through Basher’ s defensive setup. A long maneuvering game laid ahead, till, a simplified endgame is reached and a draw was agreed. While Jwan was winning against Asabri, Anastaios was playing Black against his sister! Everybody was enjoying the sister-brother lively game, except Akatrini, as she was on the losing side. Meanwhile, Amr beat Dr. Maasarani with the black pieces, though  just one mistake on move 31 (Qe7?) from Amr passed unnoticed from Dr. Maasarani, who missed his chance on move 35 (he played Rxb7 instead of the strong c4-c5, followed by Bc4). This win enabled Amr to join the leaders on the top boards for the last round.

What distinguished this round is the under-promotion of the e-pawn that Suzan Moradian made against her game with Riham Saleh, where the pawn reached the 8th rank to be promoted to a knight! Still, Kassis couldn’t break the Alekhine defense of Lebel, but Jamal beat Mansour Abdallah and reserve a place on one of the top tables.

The championship reached its climax at the start of the final round, where the standing after round 8 was as follows:

  1. Basher, Fadi and Jwan, 6 points each
  2. Anastasios 5.5
  3. Ahmad, Abubakr and Amr, 5 points each
  4. Ekatrini, Jamal, and Al-Zayat (from Lybia) 4.5 each.

The pairing on top board was as follows:

Board 1: Anastasios – Fadi

Board 2: Amr – Jwan

Board 3: Basher – Ekaterini

Board 4: Jamal – AlArbi

Board 5: Ahmad – Al-Zayat

While Ahmad smashed his opponent, Jamal blundered a pawn. He fought back, and tried to seek salvation in opposite color bishop endgame. But his opponent’s central passed pawns had the last say. Ekaterini, in a Symmetrical English opening, tried to complicate the position as much as possible in order to create winning chances. She sacrificed a knight for a central pawn, but Basher defended well, and collected a valuable point.

On the second board, Jwan adopted against Amr the Dragon variation of the Sicilian defense. The later deviated from the main line, reaching an equal middle game, where the major pieces were still at the board. But some imprecise moves from his part, enabled Jwan to pressurize against the isolated d-pawn, and as a result of precise pieces play, the White’s game couldn’t be held any longer.

The Classical variation of the King’s Indian defense was played on the first board. Fadi adopted a side variation, where he exchanged his light squares bishop for the f3-knight, and after exchange of the queens, the game reached an equal endgame. In order to exchange the strong white d5-knight, Fadi played Nb4, missing the sacrifice Rxd4, netting Anastasios 2 pieces and a passed pawn for a rook. Fadi found nothing but to call it a day.

Final standing (after adopting the tie-break):

Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED Pts
1 3 FM Bakr Jwan 2296 SYR 7.0
2 6 IM Iyti Basher 2259 SYR 7.0
3 2 FM Pavlidis Anastasios 2351 GRE 6.5
4 1 IM Eid Fadi 2367 LIB 6.0
5 4   Elarbi Abobker 2278 LBA 6.0
6 5 FM Najjar Ahmad 2271 LIB 6.0
7 7 FM Asabri Hussien 2235 LBA 5.0
8 11 FM El Jawich Amro 2170 LIB 5.0
9 8 WIM Pavlidou Ekaterini 2218 GRE 4.5
10 15   Shamieh Jamal 2056 LIB 4.5
11 14 CM Lebel Patrick 2074 MNC 4.5
12 16 FM Al-Zayat Ahmed 2051 LBA 4.5
13 9 CM Kassis Antoine 2217 LIB 4.5
14 17 WFM Jalloul Maya M. 1946 LIB 4.5
15 19 CM Khaled Lakki 1869 PLE 4.5
16 12   Mawed Moussa 2138 PLE 4.5
17 13   Maasarani Mahmoud 2108 LIB 4.0
18 20   Al-Jelda Fatma 1847 SYR 4.0
19 22   Baktach Nesrine 1759 TUN 4.0
20 26   Abdelmoumen Ahmed 0 TUN 4.0
21 10   Mansour Abdallah 2175 LBA 3.5
22 24   Bedrosian Danielle 1739 LIB 3.5
23 21   Mouradian Suzan 1838 LIB 3.5
24 23   Yagi Rita 1740 SYR 3.0
25 25   El Saleh Riham 1558 LIB 2.5
26 18 WFM Makhlouf Youmna 1905 LIB 0.5

 

Click here to download the games.

The MCA rapid championship witnessed the participation of 92 players. 7 rounds were played, with 15 minutes plus 5 seconds per move for each player per game. The championship was played in an ideal atmosphere, where all the participants were very cooperative and were up to the task in conserving the necessary entourage for a professional approach.

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