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Round 1 of the 43rd Lebanese Individual Championship 2017

A fighting round

When observing the games of the starting round of the final stage of the championship, you get the feel of the eagerness of the players to play chess. This is usual after a somewhat long break away from the classical tournament(s). I will make a brief board by board description of those interesting fights.

(Notice that the board number is not related to the player’s rank or standing, as it is a round Robin event).


On board 1, the Queen’s gambit Accept was on the schedule between Marwan Charbel and Marwan Nassar. The isolated d4-pawn was early dissolved, giving the former a slight initiative due to the advantage of the development.  Some shaky decisions in the issuing middlegame by Charbel allowed Nassar to snatch the initiative and even to obtain the advantage of the bishop pair and a space advantage.   After ups and downs of values of moves from both side, when the advantage passed from one side to another, both Marwans agreed to split the point in a position favorable for Black (bishop pair, open center, space advantage).

(The game of the knights) is most probably the right way to describe the game on board 2 between Ahmad Najjar and Mahdi Kaoury. The early Queens’ exchange resulted in an interesting dynamic endgame, where the 4 knights started galloping at their leisure. It seems that Ahmad’s knights adore the rim of the board, in contrary to Mahdi’s ones, who succeeded in creating an initiative against White’s queen side pawns. The exposed black king gave Ahmad the chance to turn the table, which he missed in the approaching of the first time control (40 Rd6 instead of the played 40 Nd5). Although this wasn’t bad in itself, a precise calculation was needed, and this could be achieved as neither player was in time trouble. The missed opportunity allowed Mahdi to seize his chance by forcing the exchange of the remaining rooks, and his centralized knights and precise calculation enabled him to promote his a-pawn to a queen, forcing Ahmad to resign a few moves later.

Board 3 was the scene of a fighting game between Antoine Kassis and Tarek Moudallal. After some transposition of moves, they reached a King’s Indian Attack middle game position, where each side has his own trump. Some modest play from Antoine enabled Tarek a strong initiative on the queen side, forcing the former to adopt the pieces-exchange policy. This policy succeeded to certain extend. The missed opportunity to snatch the white e-pawn by Tarek enabled Antoine to create complication on the king side, forcing Tarek to make some dubious decision for defense. Although the game was balanced (but not equal) for both side, the ugly (37..e5?) move enabled Antoine a dangerous initiative due to the exposed 7th rank. As it is always the story of that just one tempo, the white a-pawn march towards its promotion, the precise calculation (53 Rb8 – preventing the Nb2+), followed by the promotion to a new Queen were enough to convince Tarek about the powerless of his advanced pawn duo. Black’s resignation was inevitable.

The Winawer variation French defense adopted by Ralph Khairallah against Amr ElJawish, on board 4, put some pressure on the later, as the Ralph was somewhat blitzing his moves, indicating that he knows what he is doing. But once both are out of theory, the experience and the power of calculation should prevail. Although the position was balanced, it was so complicated to find a certain plan and making a decision. The redeployment of pieces adopted by Amr put Ralph under pressure, both on the board and on time. The exposed black’s king on the queen side gave Amr the necessary motive to infiltrate on that side, achieving a winning position. The loss of the queen on the next move forced Ralph his resignation.

It was very interesting to watch the board 5 game between Faisal Khairallah and Samir Sursock. The Slav defense was on the agenda, and the early exchange of queens led to interesting position, where, after certain moves, the fight title was: How White’s 2 bishops will dominate Black’s knight and bishop. Slowly but surely, Faisal improved his position, pushing Samir to find a more dynamic plan to compensation the static domination of the White pieces. As the first time control is approaching, the blunder in the inferior position forced Samir to stop the clock.

On board 6, the Catalan Opening adopted by AbdelAziz Mahmoud against Elie Asmar didn’t turn well for the former. An imprecise opening move by AbdelAziz enabled Elie to hang on the pawn. This caused frustration to AbdelAziz, who start making nervous moves, jetting pawn after another. Trying to reach an endgame with opposite color bishop was his last hope, but 4 pure extra black pawns was impossible to hold. The sight of promotion of a black queen was a good timing for him to stop the clock.

Round 1 results:

Round 1 on 2017/07/18 at 6.30 PM
SNo. Name Rtg Res. Name Rtg SNo.
1   Sharbel Marwan 1940 ½  -  ½   Nassar Marwan 2015 12
2 FM Najjar Ahmad 2304 0  -  1   Kaouri Mahdi 2074 11
3 FM Kassis Antoine 2137 1  -  0   Moudallal Tarek 2080 10
4 FM El Jawich Amro 2209 1  -  0   Khairallah Ralph 1762 9
5 FM Khairallah Faisal 2273 1  -  0 FM Sursock Sameer 2101 8
6 CM Abdulaziz Mahmoud 2117 0  -  1   Asmar Elie 2009 7

Round 2 pairings:

Round 2 on 2017/07/19 at 6.30 PM
SNo. Name Rtg Res. Name Rtg SNo.
12   Nassar Marwan 2015 -   Asmar Elie 2009 7
8 FM Sursock Sameer 2101 - CM Abdulaziz Mahmoud 2117 6
9   Khairallah Ralph 1762 - FM Khairallah Faisal 2273 5
10   Moudallal Tarek 2080 - FM El Jawich Amro 2209 4
11   Kaouri Mahdi 2074 - FM Kassis Antoine 2137 3
1   Sharbel Marwan 1940 - FM Najjar Ahmad 2304 2


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