By Chinthana Wasala / The Peninsula
Qatar’s Mohammed Al Sayed and Husein Aziz Nezad beat Iran before going down to China in the men’s rapid chess team event and settled for a bronze medal along with hosts Turkmenistan on the Penultimate day of the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games yesterday.
In yesterday’s semi-final, Nezad seemed to have Chinese player LI Chao on the ropes with Nf5, but he played imprecisely, losing a pawn and the resulting endgame as China moved into the final.
China lost to Vietnam in the final, but secured two out of four gold medals which were on offer at the Chess Arena in Ashgabat yesterday.
However, despite China’s team success, the grand champion of the Ashgabat 2017 Chess competition remains Quang Liem Le of Vietnam who won the men’s standard individual event convincingly.
Today, the Al Annabi duo will compete in the men’s blitz team event and will face off against Afghanistan in the first round.
Meanwhile, Qatar shocked hot favourites South Korea 827-802 in the men’s Team of Four semi-final yesterday and moved to into the final in which they meet Chinese Taipei.
The nail-biting contest saw both teams struggle to carry on the first ball, with Qatar leading from early in the game and fending off a last-minute surge from Republic of Korea, including ten strikes in a row in the eighth frame from Young Seon Cho.
Qatar had only squeaked into the semi-final by finishing fourth in Block 2 competition on Monday, just 48 pins ahead of Thailand.
“Right now I can’t believe it,” said Jassim Mohamed Al Muraikhi, the youngest member of the Qatari team. “Thank God we did our job.”
“To beat the world champions is tough. We just tried to control our emotions and bowl our best.”
Republic of Korea had beaten Qatar by 332 points in the preliminary phase, but could not reproduce the performance when it really mattered.
In the other semi-final, Chinese Taipei beat Indonesia 784-730 to also advance to the final.
The results mean Republic of Korea and Indonesia both take bronze medals in the event.
Having reached the final, Qatar are assured of a medal today and it could be Al Annabi’s 11th medal at the Ashgabat 2017 Games which concludes today.
Al Annabi athletes have already impressed at the Turkmenistani capital and are currently placed 16th among 67 Asian nations.
Qatar’s medal tally of 10 is made of four gold medals, three silver and three bronze medals.