Aeroflot Open: Kharlov leads, Ivanchuk in hot pursuit

2/23/2005 – After eight rounds, with one to go, Andrei Kharlov has kept his lead with 6.5/10. But a ferocious game between Sutovsky and Ivanchuk saw the latter triumph with black to come within striking distance (together with Sergey Volkov. We bring you games, results, an extensive report and impressions of Moscow.

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The International Chess Open Festival "Aeroflot Open 2005" in Moscow runs from Feb. 15-23. It is being held in the Hotel Rossija, directly next to the Red Square. Games start at 3 p.m. Moscow time. There are four groups: Tournament A1 for players with a FIDE rating higher than 2549; Tournament A2 for players between 2399-2550; Tournament B 2199-2400; Tournament C below 2200. The time controls are 40/2, 20/1 + 15 minutes/rest (tournament B and C: 90'+30" for the whole game).

Round eight saw the tournament leader Andrei Kharlov draw with Sergey Volkov to maintain his lead. He remains at the top of the table at 6.5 points, while Volkov is equal second at 6.0. The most exciting game (at the top) was undoubtedly the encounter between Emil Sutovsky, who was half a point behind Kharlov with ambitions of catching up, and Vassily Ivanchuk, who was trailing the leader by a full point.

Sutovsky,Emil - Ivanchuk,Vassily
Aeroflot Open 2005 (8)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Qe2 Bd6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.0-0 b5. This appears to be a new move. A previous game, Vulfson,V-Vyzmanavin,A/Moscow 1981/EXT 2002, continued 9...Ng4 10.g3 h5 11.Kg2 b5 12.h3 Nge5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Nxd3 15.cxd3 Bb7 with a win in 30 moves for Black. 10.Re1 Ng4

Here Sutovsky plays a risky sacrifice: 11.Nd5 exd5 12.exd5+ Ne7 13.Bf4 (threatening 14.Qxe7) 13...Qc5 14.Nh4 h5 15.b4 Qxb4 16.Bd2

Watch the tactics now: 16...Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Qc5 18.f4 Bg3 19.Nf5 Nf2+ 20.Kg1 Nh3+ 21.Kh1 Nf2+ 22.Kg1 Nxd3+ 23.Be3 Nxf4 24.Qf3 Qxd5 25.Qxg3 Nxf5 26.Bxf4+ Kf8 27.Qa3+ d6 28.Rad1 Qc6. Black has emerged from the jungle a knight and three pawns ahead, the game is over for White. 29.Re2 Be6 30.Bxd6+ Kg8 31.Be5 Rh6 32.Red2 Rg6 33.g3 Kh7 34.Rd8 Qb6+ 0-1. [Click here to replay]

Top standings after eight rounds (without tiebreak scores)

Kharlov, Andrei RUS 6.5
Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 6.0
Volkov, Sergey RUS 6.0
Akopian, Vladimir ARM 5.5
Bacrot, Etienne FRA 5.5
Sutovsky, Emil ISR 5.5
Motylev, Alexander RUS 5.5
Eljanov, Pavel UKR 5.5
Malakhov, Vladimir RUS 5.5
Bologan, Viktor MDA 5.5
Radjabov, Teimour AZE 5.5
Khalifman, Alexander RUS 5.5
Ni, Hua CHN 5.0
Bu, Xiangzhi CHN 5.0
Sakaev, Konstantin RUS 5.0
Kobalia, Mikhail RUS 5.0
Riazantsev, Alexander RUS 5.0
Aronian, Levon ARM 5.0
Van Wely, Loek NED 5.0
Sorokin, Maxim RUS 5.0
Sargissian, Gabriel ARM 5.0
Tregubov, Pavel V. RUS 5.0
Shabalov, Alexander USA 4.5
Zvjaginsev, Vadim RUS 4.5
Asrian, Karen ARM 4.5
Petrosian, Tigran L. ARM 4.5
Areshchenko, Alexander UKR 4.5
Naiditsch, Arkadij GER 4.5
Belov, Vladimir RUS 4.5
Filippov, Valerij RUS 4.5
Yermolinsky, Alex USA 4.5
Iordachescu, Viorel MDA 4.5
Postny, Evgeny ISR 4.5
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter ROM 4.5
Minasian, Artashes ARM 4.5
Smirnov, Pavel RUS 4.5
Kempinski, Robert POL 4.5
Ghaem Maghami, Ehsan IRI 4.5
Tseshkovsky, Vitaly RUS 4.5
Ehlvest, Jaan EST 4.5
Wang, Yue CHN 4.5
Timofeev, Artyom RUS 4.5
Lugovoi, Aleksei RUS 4.5
Beliavsky, Alexander G SLO 4.0
Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR 4.0
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 4.0
Roiz, Michael ISR 4.0
Sadvakasov, Darmen KAZ 4.0
Kaidanov, Gregory S USA 4.0
Efimenko, Zahar UKR 4.0
Berkes, Ferenc HUN 4.0
Kotsur, Pavel KAZ 4.0
Kurnosov, Igor RUS 4.0
Azarov, Sergei BLR 4.0
Atalik, Suat BIH 4.0
Gyimesi, Zoltan HUN 4.0
Yakovich, Yuri RUS 4.0
Sasikiran, Krishnan IND 4.0
Galkin, Alexander RUS 4.0
Erenburg, Sergey ISR 4.0
Epishin, Vladimir RUS 4.0
David, Alberto LUX 4.0
Tkachiev, Vladislav FRA 4.0
Izoria, Zviad GEO 4.0
Fedorov, Alexei BLR 4.0
Karjakin, Sergey UKR 4.0
Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 4.0

The Aeroflot Open – Report 1

By Anvar Tourdyev

With photographic impressions of Moscow by Michael Knyazkov

The fourth Aeroflot open took off on February, 15th in the very center of Moscow, few minutes walk from the Red Square. A hotel “Rossija” traditionally offers a vast and luxurious “Golden Hall” for tournaments A1, A2 and B, and a smaller hall for amateur competition C. However, both areas are well-overcrowded with players, family members, supporters, important guests and other people willing to get their share of the most impressive chess gathering of Russia’s capital.

Moscow on a snowy February morning

The climate control system had hard times adjusting to the crowds during the first couple of rounds, and the air was rather stuffy, leading to complaints from the top players. The journalists joked that such atmosphere would help both the slim and the Middle Eastern participants.

The famous Bolshoi Theatre, situated on Teatralnaya Square

Another peculiarity of the tournament is the absence of a skittles room. A small fraction of the “Golden Hall” offered for post-mortem analyses is divided from the main playing hall by an invisible line, easily crossed by overheated grandmasters. Most of the leading players ignore the opportunity to exchange their thoughts after the game, due to both exhaustion and what could be called “an excessive professionalism”.

The State Historical Museum

Some of the players who had decided not to stay in the hotel “Rossija” complained about their problem of finding out the pairings – it is available only in the tournament area and, of course, on the web. Well, everybody should be able to get to the Internet in Moscow, I believe!

The road between Hotel Rossija and the Kremlin

With more than 600 participants it is difficult to run a tournament flawlessly. In the first round one of the arbiters mistakenly set the result of the game Tseshkovsky-Sasikiran as “0-1”. But it was Sasikiran who had run out of time. The Indian grandmaster was aware of this, unlike his veteran Russian opponent, who was sure that he had lost! Sasi went to the chief arbiter the next day and asked him to fix the score in Tseshkovsky’s favor! [Click here to replay this game]. This is an extraordinary example of fair play in our days of universal practicality, and it should definitely be noted and appreciated.

Gold medal for fairness: Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran

An unlucky incident occurred during the third round. In the middle of the middlegame (excuse the tautology), when the nervous tension reached its peak... the men’s lavatory broke down! This unexpected and very serious situation led to heavy time trouble in some games, while players explored one of the world’s largest hotels, searching for an alternative.

There were also some problems with, yes, you’ve guessed it right, cell phones. In tournament C the phone rang in a bag laid not too far from the table. A girl playing against the phone’s owner ignored the disturbance and did not report it to the officials, but an arbiter approached the table, conducted an investigation, found the culprit and decided... to allow the game to continue! But this was not the end of story. After an hour of tense struggle the arbiter, obviously having given the matter a fair amount of thought, returned and this time forfeited the offender. Further inquiry revealed that the phone belongs not to the player, but to his brother, and the parties called for an attorney...

Tverskaya Street, main street in Moscow

As for the composition of the festival, I have two main observations. First is great number of women players: the four great “K” of women’s chess (Kosteniuk, Kovalevskaya and the Kosintseva sisters), Zhukova, Galliamova, Lahno, Zawadzka and many, many others. Apart from that, one often hears talk of the “Ukrainian Brigade”, which is connected with an indeed record-breaking number of Ukrainian representatives, including world class performers as Ivanchuk and Ponomariov, rising stars Karjakin and Lahno, experienced grandmasters Neverov, Romanishin, Lerner, Savchenko, younger generation leaders Areschenko, Eljanov, Efimenko, Kuzubov, etc.

Tverskaya Street at night

The tournament is being dominated by Andrey Kharlov, who defeated Ivanchuk in the key encounter of the round three. An innocent opening by the Kazan grandmaster provoked a justified activity from his opponent. Ivanchuk damaged his pawn structure but gained some dynamic pluses in return. In Kharlov’s post-game opinion, Vassily probably lost objectivity during the game, trying to win from an equal position. The resulting four-rook endgame with an extra pawn for Kharlov was probably also drawn, but the depressed Ivanchuk did not put a strongest resistance. [Click here to replay] Unperturbed Kharlov often plays well in major events and does not show his best play in less important ones, due to his inconsistent motivation.

Emil Sutovsky of Israel has been in a crushing mood during this tournament, sacrificing two pieces and a rook in rounds 3 and 4 to win both games against Kotsur and Filippov (the latter tied for the first in Aeroflot open 2004). These beautiful games will certainly appear in major chess magazines around the world. [Click here to replay].

The Red Square with St Basil's Cathedral

More or less disappointing is the result of Ruslan Ponomariov. The former FIDE world champion from Ukraine scored 50%, with a number of draws, although he fought hard in most of his games. Another FIDE ex-champion, Alexander Khalifman, is doing much better, with 5.5/8. Alexander’s excellent attacking game as Black against Galkin, an exceptionally solid player that loses very rarely, broke his long winless strike. “Thank you”, replied Khalifman to my congratulations, “winning a game becomes so exceptional to me that I should probably celebrate it in some special way.”

The giant mall GUM, directly adjacent to the Red Square

So far it is difficult to make any predictions about the outcome of the tournament, because the experience shows: an early lead does not mean much in the end. A one who keeps energy for finishing strike is a most likely candidate for Dortmund 2005...

Anvar Tourdyev is a violinist, a post-graduate student of Moscow State Conservatory, and an avid chess player. Obviously he is the Conservatory chess champion and leader of their chess club. Recently he took part in his first FIDE rated tournament in Moscow (a round-robin called the Students Olympiad of RGSU, organized by one of the local universities), and took the first prize with a 2407 performance. Anvar’s results in various blitz and rapid events in Moscow over the last few years show that he might be already playing at a level close to IM...


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