How Salem Saleh became one of the best chess players in the UAE – News

He obtained the title of Grand Master in 2009

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

Published: Thu 25 August 2022, 22:51

Salem Abdulrahman Mohamed Saleh, arguably one of the most exciting chess players to emerge from the UAE in recent years, realized his passion for the game at an early age while growing up in Sharjah.

By the time he entered his teens, he already felt a combination of enthusiasm and determination for his future as a chess player. He was focused and started investing a lot of time in thinking about the type of player he wanted to be.

Saleh was blessed with self-confidence and never doubted that he was ready to move on to the next chapter of his life, ahead of the checkered flag. In short, he was ready to play chess as an adult, when most kids his age were still unsure of what they wanted to be.

At the age of 14, Saleh won his first Asian Youth title, which he would also win at the ages of 16 and 18. During this phase, he would go on to dominate the Arab chess scene and win the Arab Chess Championship three times. , winning his first in 2008 at the age of 15. In the same year, he won his first UAE Chess Championship and followed that up by winning the Grandmaster title in 2009.

Since 2016, Saleh has been part of the elite list of the 100 best players in the world, reaching a ranking as high as number 44 with a maximum rating of 2690 which he reached last year. He would retain this position until March this year, as certified in the monthly Fide ratings list.

Saleh’s defining moment came when he began working with renowned Bosnian-Dutch chess coach Ivan Sokolov, who helped him break into the world’s top flight. Sokolov recently paved the way for a young Uzbekistan to win the 44th World Chess Olympiad in India.

Salem and Sokolov entered into their partnership in early 2013, at a time when Salem, already an established grandmaster, was determined to break into the Fide Top 100. With a total in the 2500s, Salem needed to take his game to the next level and achieve a score of 2600, which he did and even won the Asian chess title in Al Ain.

In November 2016, Salem finally broke into the Top 100 with a rating of 2656, a position that has remained current.

“At the beginning of our cooperation, my grade was 2500 and at the end it became 2620 and I won the Asian gold medal,” Saleh said of his alliance with Sokolov on the coaches website.

“But more importantly, I played much better and more entertaining chess!”

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