Title favourite Magnus Carlsen kicks off Qatar Masters Open with an easy win

Title favourite Magnus Carlsen kicks off Qatar Masters Open with an easy win

QLNews
By QLNews

The third edition of the Qatar Masters Open chess championship got off to a strong start at the iconic Lusail Sports Arena on Wednesday.

Norway’s World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, a firm favourite to win the Doha title, kicked off his campaign on a winning note.

The five-time world champion Super Grandmaster, out to defend his title from when the competition was last held in Doha in 2015, shrugged off a late arrival in Qatar to defeat 17-year-old Indian IM LR Srihari in just 23 moves.

“I didn’t know what to play on move 1, so I just asked Qatar Chess Association (QCA) President Mohamed Al Mudahka to make his ceremonial first move. He played 1.c4 and I thought it looked like a good move. So I though I’ll play it,” Carlsen said after the opening win.

A brief opening ceremony preceded the tournament. It was attended by numerous dignitaries including Qatar’s Minister of Sports and Youth HE Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovic, QCA President Al Mudahka and his Emirati counterpart Taryam Matar Taryam.

Japanese World No.2 Hikaru Nakamura, seeded second in Doha, joined Carlsen in making a winning start to the tournament. He defeated India’s Vantika Agarwal in a close contest.

While IM Nubairshah Shaikh held India’s top seed D Gukesh to a draw, India’s IM Kushagra Mohan scored an upset win over Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev.

Around 250 men and women, representing 45 nations from around the world, are taking part in the 10-day tournament.

With 76 players, India has fielded the biggest contingent to Doha. Of the $108,250 total prize money, $25,000 is reserved for the winner. The runner-up will take home $15,000 while the third-place finisher will become richer by $10,000.

Qatar has fielded 12 men — Mohamed Firdaus, Fahd Al Mansouri, Mohamed Al Qasabi, Hamad Al Kuwari, Mohamed Al Khayyat, Turki Al Kuwari, Mohamed Al Subaie, Amer Al Hammadi, Tamim Al Ghanem, Hamad Al Fahd, Ahmed Al Khunji and Ahmed Saif — at the competition.

Qatar also has four women in the fray — Kholoud Al Khulaifi, Asma Al Hammadi, Fatima Al Hammadi and Rawda Al Qasabi.

QCA Executive Director and Director of Qatar Masters Hamad Al Tamimi said Qatar has captured the imagination of the chess world with the 2023 event, held after a long gap.

“This is the third edition of the Qatar Masters, last held in 2015. The Local Organising Committee started its preparation several months ago and we’re pleased to welcome all participants to Doha. We hope the competition’s third edition will be an all-round success. Our goal is to maintain the huge reputation the tournament enjoys all over the world,” he was quoted as saying.

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