Guernsey Chess Club and Federation Reports

Peter Kirby reports from the 7th Dubai Open Chess Championship, where he represented the Guernsey Chess Federation.

I recently had the chance to visit Dubai and play in the 7th Dubai Open.

The sign of the weather was evident upon our arrival at Dubai airport when the pilot announced that the temperature was 30 degrees C, nothing remarkable about that, except that we landed at midnight! We only saw one small cloud in our ten-day visit. The heat was actually quite comfortable as there was low humidity.

Dubai is a cosmopolitan dynamic city, much like a western European city but with some striking modern architecture, but it is difficult to find Arabic influences except in the Gold Souk and Perfume Souk. My wife particularly enjoyed the latter. A visit to the beach was much enjoyed but we had to be careful of the intensity of the Arabian sun.

What about the chess? There are a few peculiarities to playing in Dubai due to religious considerations. Firstly the pieces have been altered to be Arabic style with the kings having their crosses removed, oddly this didn't apply to every set and the top 20 boards were western style.

Also it is UAE law that all sporting events must have a prayer break, so about an hour into the game there would be a call to prayer and all players would have to leave the playing hall for about ten minutes. This leads to something you won't find mentioned in any chess books, you quickly realise that you need to have a "prayer break strategy" so you don't want to play a move (particularly a surprising move) just before the break and give your opponent the free ten minutes time. Most of the players were clearly analysing the position in their heads outside the playing hall. Indeed this led to a bit of a diplomatic incident when a Russian GM, obviously deep in chess thought, walked straight across the prayer carpet - much to the annoyance of the Islamic players. When they asked him to walk around, he just continued deep in thought not aware of what he had done.

The conditions were fantastic. Dubai Chess Club is located in a purpose built building in the shape of a rook that cost 10m to build. The players received subsidised accommodation and free transport from the hotel to the airport and also to the venue in the club's own minibus. Have a look at their website :- www.dubaichess.com. For some good pictures of the tournament see :- www.chessbase.com

I had a disappointing tournament scoring only 2/9 I did however have one good win against S.Schmid (2273) of Germany with a c3 Sicilian (see interesting games section for game). Peter Kirby 19/04/05