Young Anas al Darwashi made Oman proud when the 16 year old qualified for the final round of the first ever ISF World Schools Championship Online Chess 2020 on Sunday. He scored creditable seven points from the maximum nine to be ranked 22nd.
Anas is among the 40 boys who reached the final round of the event that featured 113 players from 35 countries. He, along with Ahmed Khankar of Saudi Arabia, are the only two Arab players to have made it to the finals, which will be held on October 25.
Ahmed also qualified with seven points. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the International School Sports Federation (ISF) was forced to organise the competition on the virtual competition platform Premium Chess in partnership with FIDE, the world governing body.
The online championship had three Omani players compete in the U17 category, with Hamood al Busaidi (45th place, six points) and Suhaib al Rubaee (65th rank, five points) being the other two.
For Hamood, it was a narrow miss as he did manage to earn six points but missed by five places as only the top-40 advanced.
Iran players dominated as the top three places were won by them. Arash Mamaghani Daghli topped the qualification with 9.5 points while Mohammed Amir Azadi was second with same number of points and Souren Bozorgi was third with 8.5 points.
There were ten players with seven points. A happy Anas is now looking forward to a better display in the final round.
In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily on Tuesday, Anas, who is a Grade XI student of Harith bin Khalid School in Al Amerat, said, “I am very happy to have scored seven points. I am excited to have qualified for the finals and hope to put up a better display.
“This is my second appearance in the same championship, though in the last edition we had travelled to take part in Turkey. This time it is online. The competition is very tough this time. Last year, I could score just half a point, but this time, I garnered seven out of the maximum nine at stake.”
Anas thanked Oman national team coach Basheer al Qudaimi of Yemen for his valuable lessons and said that he has been
'training under coach Basheer since he took up the game in sixth class'.
He added, “I have been going to Al Amal Club since then and it is a great feeling to come back so strongly in the championship where, last year, I could collect only half a point. Now, having claimed the 22nd rank among more than 110 players gives me a feeling of accomplishment.”
Anas has previously participated in Arab and international events in Jordan, Muscat and UAE but is now focused on bettering his score in the qualification round in the final later this month.
Anas has an ELO rating of 1471 in standard category (rapid 1314, blitz 1537).
Ahmed al Balushi, the chairman of Oman Chess Committee (OCC), congratulated Anas on making it to the final round of the world championship and said that the performances of young Omani players
underscores the right steps taken by the committee in developing and promoting the game in the sultanate.
The championship for U14 and U17 was both for boys and girls and Oman fielded teams in all categories. In the U17 girls’ category that attracted 58 participants, Rawan al Bulushi scored four points to finish 45th while Manar al Dhuhli came 50th with four points.
Ahmed al Rahbi, Mohammed al Rashdi and Abdulrahman al Zadjali took part in the U14 boys event where 90 players featured. Ahmed bagged 4.5 points (63rd rank) , Mohammed had four (76th) and Abdulrahman (90th) could manage only one.
In the U14 girls’ competition, Oman's Ghaida al Saidi (45th) and Zinah al Hinai (46th) took part and managed four and three points respectively among a field of 51 participants.