After our time in Sharjah we were glad to have a change of scenery as we moved to the next hotel, the JW Marriot in Deira. It’s in a different part of Dubai to where I stayed last time and there are definitely more people living around here.We also had the weekend off from playing proper chess (there may or may not have been some bullet chess being played).
We spent the weekend relaxing and went to Dubai Mall. I got to eat BurgerFuel *yummy* and we also headed out to the Dubai Fountain to watch the show which was pretty impressive. While we were there someone came up to Gawain. I was a few feet away so I was expecting it to be someone asking him to take a picture of them but this time it was some fans of his! They asked to take some photos with us and we both wished each other well for the tournament! It’s always kind of strange (but nice) when you meet some fans.
We spent Sunday morning looking for Whittaker’s Chocolate but our search came up fruitless. We walked 20 minutes to a Choithram’s for me to then realise it wasn’t the supermarket that we were heading to but instead their headquarters office. It was very hot and we searched for a taxi but then gave up and started walking back towards the hotel. We then found one and asked it to take us to the nearest Choithram’s 5kms away – unfortunately the supermarket aisles were empty of Kiwi chocolate.When we got back I emailed them and received a speedy reply saying they have the chocolate in stock in a store 15kms away from us!
The Dubai Open started yesterday. We actually missed the bus that was taking players from the official hotel to the playing hall so we shared a taxi with some friendly Jordanian players. It was rush hour so a 10 minute journey took nearly 30 minutes. Luckily we had plenty of time before the opening ceremony and the start of the round. There is a shopping mall nearby so we headed there to pick up some snacks for the game. I squealed with delight when I spotted my favourite chocolate in the Carrefour much to the laughter of the family in the aisle.
Round 1 only about 30 minutes late so it wasn’t too bad. There seemed to be a long list of rules that the chief arbiter read out about dress codes, no handbags in the playing hall, no eating food in the playing hall and probably some other things I didn’t hear. We also won’t pause for a prayer break. Instead players will be able to leave their boards and go to pray under supervision.
I played the strong and friendly Ukrainian GM Mykala Oleksiyenko. It was the Archangel Variation of the Ruy Lopez and an opening he had in Sharjah against WFM Srija Seshadri (in a game that was drawn).
Gawain won a nice and quick game when his opponent played the Scotch against him. Gawain also told me he spotted his Round 5 opponent Mittal Aditiya who is 10, falling asleep at the board. We think the game may have started too close to his bedtime. The round time was no issue for 10 year old V Pranad who beat Top UAE GM Salem Saleh (who bounced back with 5 wins in Sharjah to come joint 1st).
GM Ahmed Adly also spoke of his trouble against his Round 1 opponent. He was lost but fortunate his after his opponent blundered twice in 4 moves allowing him to take the full point.