Oman’s Said Ahmad narrowly misses out on medal at World Amateur Chess Championship in Greece

Sports Wednesday 27/April/2016 22:25 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman’s Said Ahmad narrowly misses out on medal at World Amateur Chess Championship in Greece

Muscat: It was a case of so near and yet so far for Oman chess player Said Ahmad Ali Jidal Fadhil. The Salalah-based player came up with a brilliant show but narrowly missed out on a medal at the World Amateur Chess Championship for players with under 2000 ratings in Greece on Wednesday.
Going into the ninth and final round of the championship, the Omani talent had the glory within the reach but the tournament regulations saw him settling for the fifth place.
Said Ahmad, in fact, had the opportunity to go for the gold as going into the final round he was in a two-way lead along with Mongolian girl Khulan Enkhsaikhan.
Both Said Ahmad and Khulan, who faced off in the penultimate round sharing the spoils after a long drawn out game, went into the final round with 6.5 points each.
But the Omani came up against a strong Indian player in M.P. Ajith and suffered his only loss in the championship and the Mongolian defeated local player Koutsogiannopoulou Theodora to take the top honours with 7.5 points.
While Ajith grabbed the silver with 7 points, Said Ahmad, despite the final round loss, was still in with a chance to bag the bronze medal.
The Omani had 6.5 points, same as India’s Gochhikar Aparajita, Georgian Tqavadze Giorgi and Lithuania’s Jonkus Lukar.
But with the tie breaks coming into play, including Buchholz Tie-Break method, Aparajita took third place and Tqavadze finished fourth with Said Ahmad settling for fifth ahead of Jonkus.
Speaking to Times Sport from Greece right after the final round matches, Said Ahmad sounded disappointed but not disheartened.
“I am at a loss of words to describe how I am feeling right. It is very disappointing,” he said.
“But I am not disheartened. I gave my best and though I couldn’t win a medal I am really proud of my performance,” he said while adding: “It definitely would have been great if I have won a medal for the country.”
Speaking about the overall competition, he explained ‘we all came here to give out best and enjoy the atmosphere’, referring to the three other Omanis who took part in the championships.
“To be honest we came here (to Greece) to enjoy the game and the atmosphere. And we wanted to take one game at a time. But once we started playing we got into the groove and gained in confidence. And from there we went on to focus more,” he added.
“Personally I had started off well with good wins and kept my focus,” he said.
For the record, Said Ahmad, who entered the field with 1936 rating points, was unconquered till he met his match in Ajith in the final round.
The Omani started off with two successive victories against Germany’s Roser Ludwig and Colombia’s Lina Panesso. Then after a draw with Bulgaria’s Alexander Karaivanov, he went on to beat Vietnam’s Hai Luu Duc and Georgia’s Tqavadze Giorgi. Another draw with Argentine Carcamo Matias followed a victory over Brazilian Renato Zimmermann Kleber.
Said Ahmad, however, opines his penultimate match against Khulan was the turning point.
“The match against the Mongolian girl was very tough. I think it was the turning point. But I should say the competition was very tough till the final round,” he said.
Hope for others
Said Ahmad, who represents Salalah club, said the he and his fellow Omani players have given hope for other chess players from the Sultanate.
“We are very proud of our results in this world championship. With our performance we have given the hope and we have proved that we can believe in ourselves and in our abilities, and dream of achieving great results at the world stage,” added Said Ahmad, who along with Musallam Salim Al Aamri, Amin Al Ansi and Fadhil Salim Ahmed can be termed as pioneers in the sense they were the first to represent Oman at the international chess championships.
Said Ahmad and Amin Al Ansi were part of Oman squad that made their debut at the Chess Olympiad in 2014 in Norway and also took part in the Asian Cup in the same year in the neighbouring Iran.
The Salalah based player also took the opportunity to thank all those involved with Oman chess for their support, making special mention of International Chess Academy of Oman and it’s head coach Ismael Karim.
“I had to thank all for their support, not just for me but for all the Omani chess players, over the past few years. Especially the International Chess Academy of Oman and Ismael (Karim),” he said.
All praise
Ismael Karim, who was Oman national team coach when they took part in the Olympiad and Asian Cup, was all praise for Said Ahmad.
“In chess the key is preparation and Said (Ahmad) has come this far purely because of dedication to preparation,” he said.
Ismael Karim, himself an International Master, said: “His (Said Ahmad's) best quality both as a player and as a person is planning and add to that dedication. And more importantly when in front of the chess board he puts lot of emphasis on the strategy. These are the factors that contributed to his development as a player”.
Ismael Karim, who worked with Said Ahmad before he left for Greece, informed that the Omani player though missed out on a top three place will get other benefits in the form of points.
“Said Ahmad who went into the tournament with a 1936 ratings has completed his rounds with a rating performance of 2083 and that means he is likely to gain a minimum of 20 rating points,” he said.
Meanwhile, Musallam Salim Al Aamri, who also took part in the championship for players under 2000 ratings, finished in the 53rd place in a 67 player field with three points.
Amin Al Ansi and Fadhil Salim Ahmed competed in the world championship for players under 2300 ratings, the former finishing in the 34th place and the latter in the 41st.
Fadhil, who went into the championship as an unrated player, is likely to get the rating points of 1781 when the next list of ratings will be released by the world chess body.