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This year four players from Calgary and two from Edmonton are contesting the annual Alberta Closed, to be held at the Calgary Chess Club over the weekend from April 19-21, 2019.
The favourite by rating, albeit narrowly, is Calgary's Gary Ng, followed by Edmonton's Rafael Arruebarrena. Neither will likely have an easy time however, since the field also includes 14-yr-old Ian Zhao who has marked his arrival as an elite player by climbing the provincial rating ladder at record speed in the last year.
Defending champion Bitan Banerjee is away in India and unable to defend his title. None of the remaining contestants are without chances, since the top and bottom seeds are separated by only 200 Elo. The club is open to visitors for the duration of the event, so please stop by and take in some of the best chess likely to be played in the province this year. More tournament details, including start times for each round, can be viewed at Events.
Omid Malek persevered with an impressive 4/5 total to convincingly win the 2019 Alberta Closed! Along the way, Omid defeated top seeds Gary Ng and Rafael Arruebarrena as well as recent World Seniors Championship participant Dale Haessel. Alberta Junior and Alberta Open Champion Ian Zhao, who is just 14 years of age, came in second with 3.5/5 followed by Edmonton's Rafael Arruebarrena at 2.5/5 in third.
The event marks an astonishing improvement from last year for Omid, who collected a mere 1/5 in the 2018 edition of the provincial championship. The result was especially satisfying when a win by Ian Zhao over Dale Haessel in the final round forced Omid to prevail with Black over top seed Gary Ng in order to prevent a play-off with the junior talent.
The event marks an astonishing improvement from last year for Omid, who collected a mere 1/5 in the 2018 edition of the provincial championship.
With a number of the province's top players formally retired in recent years, the torch now looks like it has passed to the next generation with players like Omid Malek and Ian Zhao leading the charge. Mind you, the list of top players does not end here, with Gary Ng, Rafael Arruebarrena, Ian Findlay, Belsar Valencia, Dale Haessel, Agnieszka Matras Clement and others, plus junior talents Maxim Vasic and Anand Rishi Chandra certain to be in the mix in the coming years...