Asia and Canada
The Asian Chess Federation has been very active over the past few months. Following the major Asian hybrid individual championship, several zone tournaments have been organized as qualifying tournaments for the highly anticipated world championship, which begins in less than a month.
It would be interesting to note that players can participate and qualify through both the Continental Championships and the Zone Competitions. This was the case with GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, the multiple Iranian champion who did not do well in the Asian individual championship but got a ticket to Sochi as the winner of the Zone 3.1 championship.
Luck for the second time – GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami from Iran
The FIDE zone in the Middle East includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. A total of 23 players from 8 of these countries – namely Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Palestine – took part in a 7-round Swiss tournament from June 1st to 7th.
Until the fifth round, the Iraqi FM Salih Akar Ali was the only leader with 4½ / 5. However, he made a mistake in the last two laps and stayed at 4½ points, which was only enough for fourth place. He could not qualify through the Zonal, but will still travel to Sochi as a representative of the Iraqi Chess Federation.
FM Salih Akar Ali from the Kurdistan Region in Iraq | Photo: Khanzad Chess Club
In the last two rounds the battle was fought between the three best Iranian players who eventually won the top three places. GMs Ehsan Ghaem Maghami and Aryan Gholami both scored 6/7, but Ehsan prevailed thanks to a better tie break. This was followed by GM Idani Pouya (5½ / 7), the top seed of the tournament.
The Iranian top chess player IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh has won a place at the Women’s World Cup
The Iranian chief judge Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh observes games with four computer systems
The Asian Zonal 3.2 Hybrid Championship was sponsored by Saif Powertec Limited, the Bangladeshi engineering services company. It took place from 1.-9. June as a 9-round Swiss tournament. A total of 39 players from Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka took part. Only Bhutan – out of the six federations that comprise Zone 3.2 – had no representatives in the competition.
Bangladesh had the most players with 21 of a total of 39 participants.
Since they were the most numerous, it was obvious that Bangladeshi players would compete against each other in the same location as is allowed in hybrid tournaments.
The venue in Bangladesh, the Asia Hotel & Resorts in Dhaka – players from Bangladesh face each other across the board
GM Ziaur Rahman from Bangladesh was the undefeated champion. He scored 8 out of 9 points, took the title and qualified for the upcoming FIDE World Cup. The experienced Bangladeshi grandmaster (born 1974) holds no fewer than 14 national championship titles, the last being won in 2018.
GM Ziaur Rahman (far right) will be at the award ceremony in Dhaka. crowned champion
His compatriot, GM Enamul Hossain Razib, came second with 7½ / 9 points.
The Sri Lankan national chess master CM Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage won the bronze medal (6/9). His place at the World Cup is secured as a representative of the Sri Lankan Chess Federation.
CM Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage from Sri Lanka, bronze medalist
An 11-year-old player shone in the Bangladesh squad thanks to an outstanding performance. CM Manon Reja Neer, seeded 14th, shared 3rd-4th Place after 6/9 points. He won the bronze medal not only because of his tiebreaker score.
Emerging star from Bangladesh, CM Manon Reja Neer
The winner of the women’s section in Zone 3.2, which will take part in the World Cup, is another representative from Bangladesh, WIM Sultana Sharmin Shiri.
WIM Sultana Sharmin Shirin | Photo: The New Nation
The Zone 3.3 Hybrid Championship took place from May 1st to May 10th as a 9-round Swiss competition. A total of 52 players from six associations competed: the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Laos. The other countries that belong to this zone are Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, South Korea, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
Two Filipino teenagers, IMs Daniel Quizon (age 17) and Michael Concio Jr. (age 16) took first and second place and both qualified for the World Cup.
Daniel Quizon (left) and Michael Concio Jr.
IM Medina Aulia Varda from Indonesia won a World Cup place | Photo: Facebook
Zone 3.3 chief judge, IA Reden A. Cruz, wrote in his report, among other things:
The Zone 3.3 Hybrid Chess Championship 2021 has been successfully run amid the trials and difficulties we face during this global pandemic. This zonal chess championship is very praiseworthy and commendable thanks to the initiatives and joint efforts of all players, the participating associations and the officials of the event.
Because we work as a unit, we can survive challenges in this new normal. Everyone was so happy and satisfied with the success and result of this zonal hybrid chess tournament. Zone 3.3 member federations are so grateful to FIDE and the ACF for approving this type of tournament even during the pandemic, and it would have been even better if this event were a FIDE rated tournament.
Certainly, approved FIDE-rated hybrid tournaments would generate support and spark better collaboration among member associations amid this global situation.
That statement opened a question and urged me to seek clarification on the hybrid tournament evaluation question provided to me by the Executive Director of the Asian Chess Federation, Casto Abundo:
FIDE rated Zone 3.6 Oceania Zonal, but changed course and decided that no World Cup qualifier would count. The reason I think is that some top rated players (not in Asia) refused to play hybrid events when rated. Therefore, in order to attract top players, hybrid events are not rated. Therefore, no hybrid zones or continents are assessed (with the exception of Zone 3.6 Zonal, which took place at the beginning of the year).
Zone 2.2 (Canada)
On the other side of the world, the Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) hosted the Canadian World Cup Qualifier (Zonal) from May 31st to June 4th. Canada alone represents zone 2.2. and 12 players took part in the Open Zonal won by GM Evgeny Bareev. He is supported at the world championships by GM Razvan Preotu as representative of the association. In the women’s zone, WIM Svitlana Demchenko was the winner, who, together with WGM Qiyu Zhou, will represent the association in Sochi.
WIM Svitlana Demchenko | Photo: Facebook / Victoria Jung-Doknjas
With the World Cup just around the corner, this will be our last report on qualifying. We have covered most of the major qualifying matches that lead to this world chess event. From July 10th, 206 players will take part in the Open event in Sochi, Russia. For the first time, a separate women’s World Cup will take place at the same location, for which 103 players are registered.
All photos from the Asian Chess Federation unless otherwise stated