Grand Master Ziaur Rahman is hoping to go beyond his previous success in the FIDE World Cup chess after emerging as unbeaten champion in Asian Zonal Chess Championship to book a ticket for the upcoming World Cup to be held in Sochi, Russia from July 10 to August 3.
"I will say the Asian Zonal Chess Championship has comparatively been easy in terms of the number of Grand Masters' participations because five Grandmasters usually participated in Bangladesh national chess championship but two Grand Masters participated in Asian Zonal championship. However, Sri Lankan players played really well throughout the tournament. Sri Lanka have quality players despite having no Grand Masters. And, it was a bit of a challenge for all," said Zia during a prize-giving ceremony at the Police Headquarter today.
Inspector General of Police and Bangladesh Chess Federation (BCF) president Benazir Ahmed, BCF general secretary Syed Shahabuddin Ahmed Shamim were among others present while the foreign participants and officials of zonal chess federation and Asian Chess Federation also joined the ceremony through an online platform.
Zia had participated in Chess World Cup four times -- in 2007, 2001, 2013 and 2015 -- and in his last appearance he drew against the then Russian champion Evgeny Tomashevsky twice before going down in tie-breaking rapid chess. It had been Zia's best performance in World Cup chess.
"This time, the World Cup will be held in a different format, so I am hoping to do better than the previous best because I am supposed to get relatively weaker opponents compared to the previous editions where top players played the bottom players. This time top 15 players will get bye to play from the second round," informed Zia.
For the first time, some 206 players are going to participate in Russian World Cup chess whereas the previous editions saw some 128 players participate in the knock-out round of the World Cup.
"After being confined at home for more than one year due to the pandemic, I am really excited to have qualified for the World Cup. I am now getting a chance to play classic chess again," said Zia. "Though I sat idle for one year, I have taken the preparation well and I believe I will be enjoying playing the World Cup."
The junior players from Bangladesh like IM Fahad Rahman, CM Manon Reza and Tashin Taswar Zia also performed well in the tournament with Manon also drawing with Zia.
"The junior players, who have been playing well, can now catch the big players. I think they need to be nursed more and given opportunities to play on big platforms. Then they will also perform better in future," concluded Zia.