I’m writing this from the lobby of the Sofitel Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The tournament has just finished and at least I remembered how to play a little. Scored 6.5/9 and came 8th. Results. A big congratulations to my friend, Nils Grandelius, who had a great time and won the tournament. A cool $12,000 to declare to the Swedish taxmen!
After a series of poor results my preparation for this event involved taking a week off and relaxing. This year has been very busy, with a lot of time devoted to writing my Dragon books (coming out tomorrow September 2nd on the ForwardChess app), while also trying to keep my theory up-to-date in other lines. The resting approach seemed to work fairly well. I got through the banana skin of the first round, and then a solid draw in round two. The only disappointment was the loss in round four to the Ukranian GM Martyn Kravtsiv. We went down a critical line of the Topalov Variation of the Dragon. I started to feel confident when he used up a chunk of time and declined his draw offer on move twenty. However, he played extremely accurately and, when I forgot my theory (I should have played 24…Rc8! as I wrote in the book), he dispatched me clinically.
That was my only loss in the event and I was happy with how I finished. I managed a clean sweep with White and three solid draws with Black, gaining back a few rating points. After my two losses against the French Defence in Denmark it was perhaps unsurprising that people should target that; but still, three of them, all played by people who normally steer clear of the opening was odd.
Another anomaly of the tournament was my being paired with six Indian players. India isn’t that far away from the UAE and there are a lot of flights but still. In the Politiken Cup I only played my first GM opponent in round nine, so it was good to
play six of them here. My best two games were probably my final two Whites. In round seven I managed to use a dangerous pawn sacrifice I’d found in my home preparation.
After 11…Qb8 Black has some trouble castling and completing his development. My experienced and dangerous opponent struggled to find any activity.
It’s been a strange experience playing in such a hot country. With the temperature hitting 50 degrees during the day it’s been difficult to go outside at all during the event. Luckily the hotel is very pleasant and so it hasn’t felt too claustrophobic. After the Closing Ceremony I did manage to do some sightseeing. A group of us went to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. A very impressive building built on a vast scale.
I fly back overnight and so had a day to spend here in Abu Dhabi. Again the heat makes it difficult to see much but I went to the Marina Mall. Shopping isn’t really for me but picked up some treats in the supermarket and went up the tower for a great view over the city.