MUSCAT: The Zubair Corporation (Z-Corp), in association with the Omani Chess Committee, recently organised the second edition of the National Clubs Chess Championship for all age groups. The tournament was held online on the Zoom platform due to the COVID-19 situation. While the qualifying rounds were held between October 8 and 9, the finals were held between October 12 and 15.
This championship, conducted online for the first time in the Sultanate, was held as per technical and administrative parameters approved by world chess governing body International Chess Federation FIDE. Before the start of the tournament, the committee conducted some practical trials to find out if there were any administrative and technical glitches and found appropriate solutions for them. The tournament was supervised by a group of international and national referees and was held under the supervision of international referees Musallam Al Wadahi and his assistant, international referee Hamdan Al-Hinai.
This championship comes under the framework of the agreement between The Zubair Corporation LLC (Z-Corp) and Oman Chess Committee (OCC) as per which Z-Corp supports all the activities of OCC. As a private sector player, Z-Corp is keen on realising a long-term strategy aimed at providing support for the youth to invest their energies positively in the world of sports. The group has been constantly supporting and engaging with clubs and associations which focus on young talent, while developing and strengthening local communities at the same time.
Through the establishment of the tournament, the committee aims to raise the technical levels of local players, especially the general category which witnesses strong competition between the Sultanate’s clubs in annual chess championships. Such tournaments also help participants gain confidence, assists youngsters participate, qualify and represent the Sultanate in international sports platforms.
A total of 28 teams from 22 clubs across Oman participated in the senior category. The 28 teams, comprising five players each, were divided into five groups. The championship also featured the U16 category which featured 16 teams with 80 players from 14 clubs and each of the teams was divided into three groups.
Each team needed to have a girl and a U16 player in the squad.
The first group included Ibri, Al Bashaer Azraq, Salalah B, Al Shabab and Saham clubs and the second group included Al-Bashayer Abyad, Al-Rustaq, Al-Suwaiq, Al-Salam, Madha and Nizwa clubs. While the third and final group included Salalah A, Sohar, Oman Club, Al Khaboura, and Al Ahli Sadab.
The tournament was conducted on a Swiss-System format based on the latest FIDE rules and regulations. The organising committee has announced financial prize for the first-place winners, in addition to coloured medals.
Faisal Al Mandhari, director of corporate communication at Z-Corp said, “We are happy to have organised the tournament despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. The chess tournament through online mode was appreciated by participants and clubs.”
He added, “Through collaborations with many organisations from public, private and civil society sectors, Z-Corp has endeavoured to implement many sports, cultural and community programmes and activities in various governorates. These activities come within the framework of institution’s strategy that is aimed at strengthening and developing community talents and equipping them with various skills and practices. We have been successful in popularising the game of chess in various governorates and wilayats of the Sultanate in addition to getting them to participate in local and foreign competitions. We seek to preserve the results of this strong partnership by holding competitions, tournaments, training camps and by establishing Zubair centres across the country. We are gratified by the successes we have achieved so far.”
Ahmed bin Darwish Al Balushi, Chairman of the Oman Chess Committee said, expressed his appreciation and thanks to the clubs for their response and initiative to participate in the championships. “We are delighted to have taken the electronic online route to conduct this tournament. The concept was very well received, and participants were comfortable. We are happy with the participations of the girls as well as participation of all chess enthusiasts. Z-Corp’s support for such tournaments has helped us find a new generation of players who are ready to represent the Sultanate in international platforms. We would also like to appreciate the efforts exerted by the referees and trainers in these centres,” he said.