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Chess: Oman gain from Olympiad debut


Members of the Omani delegation, from right to left, Amer Al Maashani, Mohammed Al Mashikhi, Karim Ismael, Said Fadhil, Ameer Al Raisi of Oman Chess Committee, Salem Al Amri and Amin Al Ansi. – Supplied photo

Muscat: The Sultanate's maiden appearance at the Chess Olympiad, held recently in Norwegian city of Tromso, helped the national team gain valuable experience while the individual players benefited immensely with three of them achieving ranking titles.

According to Oman national team coach Karim Ismael, the team had 'gained a lot during their first ever participation in the Chess Olympiad'.

"It was a great experience for the team as a whole to compete against some of the best players from around the world at the Olympiad," Karim Ismael said.

"The team got good international exposure and they have also scored some good points," he said.

"At the start of the Olympiad, our team were ranked 174 and by the end of the tournament they gained 33 places to finish with a ranking of 141," he added.

But, according to Karim, the biggest benefit has to be the improvement made by each individual player, which resulted in three of them gaining ranking tittles.

"One of our players was able to finish with enough ranking points and Elo rating to achieve Fide Master (FM) title and that honour went to Amer Al Maashani while two others, Mohammed Al Mashaikhi and Salem Al Amri, received Candidates Master (CM) titles," Karim informed.

The coach, meanwhile, credited the overall improvement by Omani players to the lengthy preparations in the run-up to the Olympiad, especially the international tournaments.

"Back in May we got an excellent opportunity to play against China and India at the Asian Cup in Tabriz, Iran. These encounters gave the team confidence and it was an experience the players enjoyed.

"Incidentally both the teams (China and India) clinched the first and third places respectively at the Chess Olympiad."

"Combining long trainings sessions and high level practice is the right path to improvement. We should not be afraid to lose but loosing without learning from our mistakes should be our biggest fear!" he said.

"During our 15-day training camp in Salalah (prior to Olympiad) we had time to analyse all the games that we played in Iran (Asian Cup) and solve some high level puzzles to improve their calculation skills."

Karim also thanked the sponsor Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for their 'important financial help'.

"We hope that they will continue supporting the national team and the development of chess in general.
It is great to see PDO, which is one of the biggest companies in Oman, taking care of the development of Omani players and for trying to provide them with a proper working environment."

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