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World Stars Sharjah Online International Chess Championship 2020

The Internet Chess Club is proud to announce the World Stars Sharjah Online International Chess Championship 2020!

The tournament will be played on ICC - LIVE - on June 12 and 13.
Games start at 21:00 UAE (GST - Gulf Standard Time - GMT +3) - 1PM EDT (New York) - 19:00 Europe (Paris, Madrid, Rome) - 6PM London.
The Tournament is a six-players Double Round Robin, with Time Control 10+3. 

ICC will provide LIVE commentary on its YouTube Channel, with GM Efstratios Grivas and WGM Anastazia Karlovich.

To watch the games live, if you don't have an ICC account, get a FREE TRIAL NOW! One month is on us, and you can do everything a paying member can!

The World Stars event is considered to be one of the strongest ever tournaments held in the Arab world, with an Average FIDE Rating Standard of 2703 (FIDE Category 19). The invited participants represent the four biggest Continents (Europe, Americas, Asia & Africa), while among them, an ex FIDE World Champion is listed (Rustam Kasimdzhanov). Finally, the two best rated Arab players are among the participants.

Here is the list of participants:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (born April 12th, 1985) is an Azerbaijani Grandmaster. As of November 2019, he is ranked as No. 1 in Azerbaijan and No. 5 in the world. His personal best rating of 2820 makes him the sixth-highest-rated player of all time in chess history. Mamedyarov has competed in the Candidates Tournament in 2011 (eliminated in quarterfinals), in 2014 (placing fourth) and in 2018 (placing second). He is a two-time World Junior Champion (2003 & 2005) and was WorldRapid Champion in 2013. A Golden medallist at the 2012 Chess Olympiad on the third board, he is a three-time European Team Champion (2009, 2013 & 2017) with Azerbaijan. He is also a two-time winner at Tal Memorial (2010 joint & 2014 Blitz) and Shamkir Chess (2016 & 2017), as well as the winner of the 2018 Biel Chess Festival where he beat the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Pentala Harikrishna (born May 10th, 1986) is a Grandmaster from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. He became the youngest Grandmaster from India on 12th September 2001, a record now held by Gukesh D. He was Commonwealth Champion in 2001, World Junior Champion in 2004, and Asian Individual Champion in 2011. On the personal front, he married Nadezda Stojanovic, the Serbian chess prodigy, in 2018. Harikrishna won the Tata Steel Group B in 2012 and the Biel MTO Masters Tournament Open event in 2013. He represented India at seven Chess Olympiads from 2000 to 2012 and won team Bronze at the World Team Chess Championships in 2010. At the Asian Team Championships, Harikrishna won team gold once, team silver twice and individual bronze once. In February 2013, Harikrishna's FIDE rating passed 2700. He broke into the top 10 players in November 2016 with 2768.

GM Harikrishna recorded a short video to announce his participation in the World Stars 2020:


Radoslaw Wojtaszek (born January 13th, 1987, in Elbląg, Poland) is a Polish Grandmaster. He is a three-time Polish Chess Champion. He has been one of the seconds to Viswanathan Anand since 2008. Wojtaszek assisted the former World Chess Champion in his successful title defense match against V.Kramnik, in 2010 against V.Topalov, in 2012 against B.Gelfand, in 2013 and in 2014 against M.Carlsen. In 2004, Wojtaszek won the European Under-18 Championship, the World Under-18 Championship, and the Cracovia Open with 7½/9. He won the Polish Championship in 2005. In 2006, he played for the Polish team at the Chess Olympiad in Turin scoring 9/11. In December 2008, he became the European Rapid Chess Champion. In 2009, he finished 2nd in the Polish Championship, shared 2nd place with M.Roiz at the 1st Lublin GM Tournament, and won the Najdorf Memorial in Warsaw. In 2010, he tied for 1st-5th at the 39th Rilton Cup in Stockholm and finished again 2nd in the Polish Championship. He won the 5th Polonia Wrocław Open in July 2010. Then he won the 4th San Juan International Tournament in Pamplona with 6½/9. At the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, he played on top board for Poland scoring 6/9. In June 2011, he won the 9th Gyorgy Marx Memorial in Paks, Hungary. In 2013 he took clear first with 6/7 in the 37th Zurich Christmas Open. In 2014, he won for the 2nd time the Polish Championship. In 2015, he took part in Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee, finishing 9th out of 14 players. He scored 5½/13 and was the only player to have defeated World Champion M.Carlsen as well as F.Caruana. In 2015, he was placed 2nd in the Biel GM, scoring 6/10. In 2016 he won the Polish Championship for the third time, scoring 6½/9. In 2017, he won the Dortmund Chess, with an overall score of 4½/7. In 2018, his team finished 2nd at the 34th European Chess Club Cup held in Porto Carras, Greece. In the same month, he also won the Isle of Man International Championship with a score of 7/9 after a play-off match against A.Naiditsch. In 2019 he qualified for the FIDE GP for the first time. He is married to the Russian IM Alina Kashlinskaya.

Salem Abdulrahman Mohamed Saleh (born January 4th, 1993) is a Grandmaster from the United Arab Emirates. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 2009. Salem Saleh competed in the FIDE World Cup in 2011, 2013 & 2015. Born in Sharjah, he won three titles at the Asian Youth Chess Championships: under 14 in 2007, under 16 in 2008, and under 18 in 2009. He won the Emirati Chess Championship in 2008, 2011 & 2012, and the Arab Chess Championship in 2008, 2014 & 2018. Salem Saleh won the Arab Individual Blitz Chess Championship 2017 & 2018. In August 2015, in Al Ain, he won both the Asian Chess Championship and the Asian blitz chess championship. In 2017, he finished in a tie for first place in the 1st Sharjah Masters international championship with Wang Hao, B. Adhiban, Martyn Kravtsiv, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, and S. P. Sethuraman. Salem Saleh has played for the UAE's national team on the top board in every Chess Olympiad from 2008 to 2016. He also participated in the Asian Nations Cup in 2016.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov (born December 5th, 1979) is a Uzbekistani Grandmaster and former FIDE World Champion (2004-05). He was Asian champion in 1998. Long-time second to Viswanathan Anand - helping him in 2008, 2010, and 2012 World Championship matches - he has also trained with Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana. His best results include first in the 1998 Asian Chess Championship, second in the World Junior Chess Championship in 1999, first at Essen 2001, first at Pamplona 2002 (winning a blitz playoff against Victor Bologan after both had finished the main tournament on 3½/6), first with 8/9 at the HZ Chess Tournament 2003 in Vlissingen, joint first with Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu with 6/9 at Pune 2005, a bronze-medal winning performance (score of 9½/12 points) on board one for his country at the 2000 Chess Olympiad and runner-up in the FIDE Chess World Cup in 2002 (losing to Viswanathan Anand in the final). He has played in the prestigious Wijk aan Zee tournament twice, but did not perform well either time: in 1999 he finished 11th of 14 with 5/13, in 2002 he finished 13th of 14 with 4½/13. In the FIDE World Chess Championship 2004 in Tripoli, Libya, Kasimdzhanov unexpectedly made his way through to the final, winning mini-matches against Alejandro Ramírez, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, Vasily Ivanchuk, Zoltan Almasi, Alexander Grischuk, and Veselin Topalov to meet Michael Adams to play for the title and the right to face world number one Garry Kasparov in a match. In the final six-game match of the Championship, both players won two games, making a tiebreak of rapid games necessary. Kasimdzhanov won the first game with black, after having been in a difficult position. By drawing the second game he became the new FIDE World Champion. Kasimdzhanov's 2004 championship victory earned him an invitation to the eight-player FIDE World Chess Championship 2005, where he tied with Michael Adams for 6th place. The 2004 championship also earned him one of sixteen places in the Candidates Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007. His first-round opponent was Boris Gelfand. In their match, all six regular games were drawn. Then Gelfand won the rapid tie-break 2½-½, eliminating Kasimdzhanov from the tournament. He made his first appearance at Linares in 2005, finishing tied last with 4/12 points. In 2006, Kasimdzhanov won the knockout Corsica Masters tournament. Kasimdzhanov won gold in the individual men's rapid event at the 2010 Asian Games. In the following year, he won the inaugural Central Asia Chess Cup in Tashkent. In 2015 he won the Highlander Cup, a rapid knockout tournament, at the Global Chess Festival, that took place in Budapest and was organized by Judit Polgar. Kasimdzhanov was a second for former World Champion Viswanathan Anand, having worked with him in preparation for and during his successful World Chess Championship title defenses in October 2008 against Vladimir Kramnik, April-May 2010 against Veselin Topalov and in May 2012 against Boris Gelfand. He coached the German National team which won the European Team Chess Championship in 2011. Kasimdzhanov was the trainer of Sergey Karjakin in the Candidates Tournament of 2014, and of Fabiano Caruana in the Candidates Tournament 2016. He was one of Caruana's seconds during the 2018 World Chess Championship match.

Bassem Amin (born September 9th, 1988) is an Egyptian Grandmaster. He was awarded the Grandmaster title by FIDE in 2006. Amin is the highest-rated player in Egypt and Africa. His biggest successes are Arab Champion U10, U12 & U14 two times, 4th place sharing second in World Youth Under 16 in Greece 2004, African Champion Under 20 Libya 2004, and Arab Men Champion (UAE) 2005. In 2005 he won the African Championship and took part in World Youth Chess Championship (U18), finishing third. He was Arab Champion Under 20 3 times in 2005, 2006 & 2007. African Champion Under 20 in 2005, Bronze Medallist in World Youth Under 18 in 2006, Arab Men Champion (UAE) 2006. In 2007, he tied for first with Ashot Anastasian in the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival, with a performance rating of 2747. Bronze Medallist In World Juniors in 2008, African Chess Champion 2009, African Chess Champion 2013, Co-Winner of Reykjavik Open 2013, Arab Men Champion 2013, Mediterranean Chess Champion 2014, African Chess Champion 2015. He scored 8½ points out of 11 on Board 1 at the 41st World Chess Olympiad, leading the Egyptian National Chess Team to achieve the best result in Egyptian Chess history and win the Gold Medal in Category B. He took part in the Chess World Cup 2009 and was knocked out by Vladimir Malakhov in the first round. Amin graduated from the faculty of Medicine of the Tanta University in 2012. He is one of three doctors who are also chess Grandmasters (along with Alex Scherzer and Yona Kosashvili).

Here are the pairings:

And here is an interview with our commentator, GM Efstratios Grivas:

GM-FST-IA-IO Efstratios Grivas is living in United Arab Emirates for the past 15 months, operating as the Director of the Sharjah International Chess Academy and General Coordinator of the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club. He will also be the Official Commentator of the World Starts tournament.

What do you think about the new reality in the chess world caused by Covid-19?
Some three months ago players were enthusiastic about the new online reality, but they soon understood that the thieves were multiple and unstoppable! There is no point to explain further what has been already seen in various publications, but nowadays we need to play online as there is no real alternative. But after the end of the pandemic, we will go back to normal life. The online chess platforms weren’t ready for it and although they ‘solved’ somehow the necessity of playing, they created more problems and drove many players to feel disgusted about the online chess - nearly everybody can tell a nasty story! If the online cheating is not ‘cured’ online chess will step back and at the best, it will go in a bit worst scale that it was before the pandemic.

How did the organizers make the decision to organize an online tournament of such a high level as the World Stars Sharjah Online International Chess Championship 2020?
The Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club is a historical chess club of nearly 40 years and the biggest in the world. It has organized various and plenty of tournaments from beginners to World Class players, as multiple FIDE Grand Prix. Earlier this year we had to cancel our annual Sharjah Masters Tournament due to the CV-19, where more than 60 GM had been registered, but we couldn’t do without ‘active’ chess life. Since March middle we have organized various online tournaments as the Ramadan Masters and the Future Stars, as well as seven matches with foreigner clubs and academies. Here I have to note that we are also running a daily 7-hour online training program (via Chess Evolution platform) with top-trainers, for our players and the Arab Chess Federation, all for free! As the Coordinator, I am proud of our motto: Because We Care!

Why do you think people should follow your commentaries during the tournament?
Well, because they will not be in the dark during the games, they will have fun and they can learn something! My CV is good proof of the above.

Who do you think is a favorite in the tournament with the format 10min+3sec?
Unpredictable. Shorter time controls usually don't favor the strongest in rating. This fact promises an interesting and fighting tournament, where everything is possible.

When do you think the Sharjah Masters will be organized? Is there hope chess will be back to normal?
Chess is related to life; life will come back soon and chess will follow - no alternative to talk about. I have some hopes that we might organize the Sharjah Masters later this year, but we still need some time to check all data and make the necessary procedures. Of course, do not take anything for granted, as this CV-19 is unpredictable as well!


dideICC commented on 2020 06 11


Online platforms for tournaments and championships alike must find a solution to
prevent any one player or players from cheating online.  There must be standards put in
place, requisites and a structure where cheating is simply impossible to do online.

It can be done.

Then the online platforms that encourage the use of engines and further client side
analytics during game-play can stay the same because this type of chess is also healthy.
Speed chess is also exciting as well.

Obviously due to the COVID-19 epidemic, physical events are out of the question however,
we all hope to get back to normal one day.

The Chess 960 is not good. It was invented by one of the best chess players in the world
in Bobby Fischer and is genius, but it takes away and disrespects the real and true game of
chess the way it should be originally played.

No two games are ever the same and players surely might get bored out of playing so many
games the same way but Chess 960 is like me changing all of the rules for baseball and instead
of 4 bases, the players will have to run around 7 bases.  It makes no sense and is a total waste of time.

Just my opinion.

Thank you for taking the time out to read.