According to the results of the zonal tournament of the World Chess Cup, which was held in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) from May 26 to June 3, three chess players immediately shared places on the podium with an equal number of points. Turkmenistan's Saparmurat Atabaev, Uzbek grandmaster Nodirbek Yakubboev and Kazakh international master Alisher Suleimenov scored 6.5 points in 9 rounds in the open (men's) category.
As a result, the champion of Zone 3.4 had to be determined according to additional criteria, which turned out to be better for Nodirbek Yakubboev, the champion of the World Chess Olympiad in 2022 as part of the Uzbekistan team. Suleimenov took second place, and Saparmurat was on the third line of the standings.
The intrigue in the men's category persisted to the very last. Saparmurat started the tournament not very well, while Yakubboev, who had the highest rating among the participants (2630) and was considered the favorite of the tournament, took the lead from the first rounds and showed a game befitting an Olympic champion. After the 7th round, Nodirbek was the sole leader of the tournament with 5.5 points, and four participants were half a point behind him at once - Rinat Dzhumabaev (2590), Murtas Kazhgaleev (2506), Alisher Suleimenov (2471, all from Kazakhstan) and Saparmurat Atabaev (2433). In the 8th round, Nodirbek met with Saparmurat, who defeated him in the last year's Asian Continental Championship in India. Obviously, Nodirbek was eager to take revenge on his offender from Turkmenistan. But Saparmurat, once again showing grandmaster technique, was able to beat Nodirbek and prove that he was not inferior to his opponent in the class.
Thus, before the last round, dual power was established in the tournament - Alisher Suleimenov and Saparmurat Atabaev were in the lead, who were supposed to meet each other in the 9th round. Victory guaranteed a gold medal for any of the opponents and access to the FIDE World Cup 2023. Playing black, Saparmurat showed colossal technique and had an advantage for the entire period of the game until the very endgame, but in the endgame he made a small blot, and this was enough for his opponent to bring the game to a draw.
It should be noted that after Saparmurat's mistake, all Alisher's moves coincided with the strongest continuation offered by chess computers. Nodirbek Yakubboev won his last game and “jumped into the last car of the departing train”, becoming the champion of the zone. Suleimenov was also pleased, having received the second of the available "tickets" to the World Cup.
In addition to Saparmurat, our country was represented in the men's category by his brothers, grandmasters Maksat and Yusup Atabaev, as well as FIDE master Azat Nurmammedov. They all finished the tournament with 4.5 points out of 9.
Three athletes from Turkmenistan participated in the women's category of the tournament - candidate for master of sports Ogulsurai Bayrambayeva (rating - 1902), FIDE master Lala Shohradova (2033) and first-class athlete Meryem Agadzhanova (1897). But in all its glory among women, the girls from Kazakhstan had a chance to appear, who in the final position of the tournament took the first 6 lines. Ogulsurai Bayrambayeva showed the best result among our teams, taking 9th place with 5 points out of 9 possible.
It remains to add that Zone 3.4 is one of the eight zones included in the Asian Chess Federation, and includes five Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.
Photo: Chess Federation of Turkmenistan