Aeroflot Open: Le Quang Liem supreme; Mamedyarov wins blitz

2/18/2011 – It had seemed like a no-brainer to predict a second straight win for Le after his incredible start, but a loss to Cheparinov almost changed the whole story. Then it was the Bulgarian who had a shocking loss to Vitiugov, allowing his opponent to reap the benefits of his victory from the previous day. Mamedyarov won the World Blitz Qualifier and with the report we have a pictorial by Yana Melnikova.

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The 10th edition of the International Chess Festival "Aeroflot Open 2011" is underway in Moscow, and runs 7 February to 18 February 2011. The event is comprised of three nine-round opens, which encompass all ratings together, and have a total prizefund of 125 thousand Euros. The A event is reserved for players rated 2550 and above, and boasts 20 thousand Euros for first prize, Furthermore the winner of the A tournament will be entitled to participate in the round-robin Super Tournament in Dortmund in the second half of July 2011. The B event is reserved for players rated between 2300 and 2549, and has a first prize of ten thousand Euros. The C event is for players rated under 2300, or unrated players, and has a first prize of 3500 Euros. Finally there will also be a qualifier for the World Blitz Championship.

Final rounds

Pictures by Yana Melnikova

For seven rounds, Quang Liem had been untouchable, and seemed on the verge of outdoing Ivanchuk's unbelievable 2900+ result from Gibraltar a few weeks earlier. He was a full point ahead of the field, and was paired to play Cheparinov, Topalov's second and extremely well-prepared player. They played a topical mainline King's Indian with 11.g4 when lightning struck.

Le,Quang Liem (2664) - Cheparinov,Ivan (2665) [E99]
Aeroflot Open A Moscow RUS (8), 15.02.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.g4 Both players have played this line before, so it came down to whose preparation was more up to snuff. 11...Nf6. 11...Kh8 12.Nd3 f4 13.Rf2 Bf6 14.Rg2 Bh4 15.b4 h5 16.g5 Ng8 17.Kh1 Rf7 18.c5 Nf8 19.Nb5 Bh3 20.Rg1 a6 21.Na3 Bxg5 22.Nc4 1-0 (53) Eljanov,P (2716)-Cheparinov,I (2678)/Jermuk 2009/CBM 132 (53) 12.Nd3 c6 13.Be3 Kh8 14.Kh1 b5. 14...b6 15.Rg1 Bb7 16.g5 Nh5 17.Qd2 Qd7 18.a4 cxd5 19.cxd5 f4 20.Bf2 h6 21.Nb5 a6 22.Na3 hxg5 23.Nc4 Rab8 24.Qb4 Nc8 25.Rxg5 Kh7 26.Rag1 Rg8 27.Rxg6 Ng3+ 28.Bxg3 Kxg6 29.Bxf4+ Kh7 30.Bg5 1-0 (63) Le Quang,L (2689)-Ding,L (2565)/Olongapo City 2010/CBM 136 Extra (63) 15.g5 Nh5 16.Nb4 c5 17.Nc6 Qd7 18.cxb5 fxe4








19.Nxe4 Forced. 19.fxe4?! loses the exchange atfer the finesse 19...Ng3+! 20.Kg1 (20.hxg3?? Qh3+ 21.Kg1 Qxg3+ 22.Kh1 Qh3+ 23.Kg1 Qxe3+ 24.Kh2 Qh3+ 25.Kg1 Qg3+ 26.Kh1 Qh4+ 27.Kg1 Bh3) 20...Nxf1 21.Bxf1 19...Nf5 20.Qd2 Nd4. 20...Nfg3+ Cheparinov could go for the repetition but has greater ambitions. 21.b4 Qh3 22.Kg1 Nxf3+?! This is a mistake, but the failure to see the best reply is entirely forgivable as it is anything but obvious. 23.Bxf3 Rxf3 24.Rae1?! After 24.Rxf3 Qxf3 25.Nxd6 Le understandably feared 25...Bh3 26.Qf2 Qg4+ 27.Kh1 Rf8 and here, eight plies into the line, White has the computer defense:








28.Nxe5!! but even if the GM had been told: "White to play and win" here, it is nothing obvious with everything hanging by a thread. The worst is that if you don't see this move, the position really does start to collapse. 28...Rxf2 (28...Qxb4 29.Nef7+ Kg8 30.Bxc5 Qf4) 29.Nxg4 Rf3 30.Rg1 Bxg4 31.Rxg4 Rxe3 32.bxc5 24...Bg4 25.bxc5 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Bf3 27.Rxf3 Qxf3 28.Nf2 Qf5 29.cxd6 Nf4 30.Bxf4? A blunder. 30.h4 was needed. If 30...Nh3+ 31.Kh2 (31.Nxh3 Qxh3 would allow Black to draw.) 30...exf4 31.Qd3 Qxg5+ 32.Kf1 f3! 33.Qxf3 Rf8 34.Qd3 Qf4 35.Qg3 Qc4+ 36.Kg1 Qxd5 37.a4 Bd4 38.Nxd4 Qxd4 39.a5 Rf6 40.b6 axb6 41.a6 Kg7 42.a7 Qa1+ 43.Kg2 Qxa7 44.Qe5 Qd7 45.Ne4 Qg4+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Since he had had an entire point as a cushion, Le continued in the lead, though only via tiebreak, tied in points now with the Bulgarian. Right behind was a looming platoon of GMs ready to pounce on an unexpected windfall that might allow them to snatch a victory should the opportunity be dangled in front of them. The last round would be absolutely crucial and though a number of players had mathematical chances, it was still very much in the hands of Quang Liem Le, seeking an unprecedented second victory in one of the strongest Opens in the world, and Ivan Cheparinov who had done the lion's share by scalping the leader himself.

In the last round, Quang Liem had a balanced but unpleasant game against Rauf Mamedov for a long time, though never in actual danger of losing, and eventually drew. Though there were a number of players who might catch him in points, there still remained the question of the one player who could actually take a sole first if the stars aligned in his favor.

Cheparinov,Ivan (2665) - Vitiugov,Nikita (2709) [E11]
Aeroflot Open A Moscow RUS (9), 16.02.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 0-0 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5 7.e5 Nfd7 8.b4 a5 9.b5 c5 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Bd3 cxd4 12.Nb3 a4 13.Nbxd4 Nc5 14.Bc2 Nbd7 15.0-0 Nb6 16.Re1 Re8 17.h3 Bd7 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.Bxf5 Nc4








20.Nd4? This move looks quite natural, placing the knight on an ideal blockading square, however in this complex position, precise calculation is more important, and that is where it falls short. 20...g6 21.Bg4 Ne4 22.e6 Bf6 23.Ra2??








Panic or plain blindness after which it is over. Ivan tries his best to "put up a fight", but Vitiugov will have none of it. 23...Nc3! 24.Qf3. 24.Qc2 Nxa2 25.Qxa2 (25.Rd1 Nxc1) 25...Bxd4 24...Nxa2 25.exf7+ Kxf7 26.Ne6 Rxe6 27.Bxe6+ Kg7 28.Bxd5 Ne5 29.Rxe5 Nxc1 30.Re3 Rc8 31.Bxb7 Rc5 32.Bc6 Rf5 33.Qg4 Qd2 34.Bf3 Re5 35.Be4 Rg5 36.Qf3 Rxb5 37.g3 Re5 38.Kg2 Re7 39.Bc6 Rxe3 40.Qxe3 Qxe3 41.fxe3 Be7 42.Bxa4 Bxa3 43.Bc2 Ne2 44.Kf3 Nc3 45.h4 Bd6 46.Bb3 Kf6 47.Bg8 h6 48.Bb3 Nb5 49.Bc4 Nc7 50.Bb3 Ne6 51.Bc4 Ng7 52.g4 Ke5 0-1. [Click to replay]

With this unexpected result, Cheparinov found himself relegated to 10th place, while it was his victor, Nikita Vitiugov who propelled himself to second, losing only to Le on tiebreak. With first place assured, Quang Liem not only took first place, but has qualified a second time for the Dortmund Super GM event later this year. In third place, with the same 6.5/9 as Quang Liem Le and Vitiugov, was Evgeny Tomashevsky, who also won his final round game.


Quang Liem Le, winner of Aeroflot, and going to Dortmund for the second straight time

Several notable results worth mentioning are Gata Kamsky who had started strong, then after losing to Le in the fourth round, had lost a second game in round six and seemed headed to the crosstable's basement, with 3.0/6. Yet the American GM regrouped and won his final three games to finish on 6.0/9 and a 2756 performance, garnering a few Elo in the process.

Another player who had suffered from irregular form was French prodigy Vachier-Lagrave, and though he was not able to protect his rating from a small hit, he did play an inspired positional queen sacrifice in the last round aganst the Spaniard Salgado.

Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2715) - Salgado Lopez,Ivan (2626) [A30]
Aeroflot Open A Moscow RUS (9), 16.02.2011

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.g3 e6 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 Be7 7.b3 0-0 8.Bb2 d6 9.e3 a6 10.Qe2 Nbd7 11.Rfd1 Ra7 12.d4 Re8 13.e4 cxd4 14.Nxd4 Qb8 15.Re1 Ba8 16.Rad1 g6 17.g4 e5 18.Nc2 Nc5 19.Nd5 Bd8 20.f4 Ne6 21.fxe5 dxe5 22.Rf1 Nd7 23.Qf2 f6 24.Kh1 b5 25.Ba3 Bxd5 26.exd5 Bb6








27.dxe6!? Maxime had been having an irregular event, and it is a testament to his resilience and core self-belief that he embarks on this queen sacrifice. 27...Bxf2 28.exd7 Rd8 29.Bd5+ Kg7 30.Rxf2 Raxd7 31.Ne3 bxc4 32.bxc4 Qb6 33.Bc1 Rb8 34.h4 Qb1 35.Rdf1








35...Rxd5?! Giving the exchange was hardly forced but Black clearly feels he is being pushed off the board, slowly but surely. And he is right. 36.cxd5 Qe4+ 37.Kh2 f5 38.gxf5 Qxh4+ 39.Kg1 Rc8 40.Bd2 Rd8 41.Rh2 Qd4 42.f6+ Kg8 43.f7+ Kg7 44.Rhf2 h5 45.Nc2 Qxd5 46.Bb4 Qxa2 47.f8Q+ Rxf8 48.Bxf8+ Kg8 49.Bh6 Qb3 50.Ne3 g5 51.Bxg5 a5 52.Rg2 Kh7 53.Rf6 a4 54.Bh6 Qb4 55.Rf7+ [55.Rf7+ Kxh6 (55...Kh8 56.Rf8+ Kh7 57.Rg7+ Kxh6 58.Nf5#) 56.Nf5#] 1-0. [Click to replay]

Aside from the stories of tragedies, with players severely underperforming, or redemption such as Kamsky, there were also some notable results by juniors, several of whom acquired much desired GM norms, in the main open itself. The top junior result was actually by the top Chinese 16-year-old. No, we don't mean the recently crowned Hou Yifan, who turns 17 before the month is over, but her slightly younger compatriot, Yu Yangyi. Yu is currently rated 2607, and therefore about a dozen Elo ahead, which might seem negligible, but due to his remarkable results at the Moscow Open and now at the Aeroflot, where he scored 6.0/9 and a 2762 performance, his next rating will be in excess of 2650.

Also commendable, are 15-year-olds IM Fedoseev (2505) and FM Bukavshin (2458) both of whom scored GM norms, but the real eye-opener was by 14-year-old IM Daniil Dubov (2459) who not only acheived a GM norm against nine grandmasters, not one rated under 2621, and two above 2680, but had an incredible 2700 performance to boot! The boy is not unknown in the junior circuit, having been the Russian sub-16 champion at age 13, but this was his first GM norm. He is currently being coached by GM Sergey Shipov, the editor of Crestbook, who describes his pupil's style as akin to Petrosian.

Final standings of Open A

Rk
Name
Pts
Fed.
Rtg
Perf
1
GM Le, Quang Liem
6.5
VIE
2664
2809
2
GM Vitiugov, Nikita
6.5
RUS
2709
2803
3
GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny
6.5
RUS
2695
2797
4
GM Khismatullin, Denis
6.0
RUS
2649
2779
5
GM Yu, Yangyi
6.0
CHN
2607
2762
6
GM Kamsky, Gata
6.0
USA
2730
2756
7
GM Rodshtein, Maxim
6.0
ISR
2625
2734
8
GM Kasimdzhanov, Rustam
6.0
UZB
2681
2727
9
GM Mamedov, Rauf
6.0
AZE
2660
2720
10
GM Cheparinov, Ivan
6.0
BUL
2665
2716
11
GM Sandipan, Chanda
5.5
IND
2641
2715
12
GM Bocharov, Dmitry
5.5
RUS
2605
2686
13
GM Andreikin, Dmitry
5.5
RUS
2689
2663
14
GM Grachev, Boris
5.5
RUS
2660
2662
15
GM Zvjaginsev, Vadim
5.5
RUS
2660
2669
16
GM Petrosian, Tigran L.
5.5
ARM
2604
2750
17
GM Jakovenko, Dmitry
5.5
RUS
2718
2718
18
GM Kobalia, Mikhail
5.5
RUS
2666
2715
19
GM Sjugirov, Sanan
5.5
RUS
2626
2700
20
GM Ding, Liren
5.5
CHN
2628
2703
21
GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
5.5
FRA
2715
2698
22
GM Zhou, Jianchao
5.5
CHN
2655
2693
23
GM Volokitin, Andrei
5.5
UKR
2678
2664
24
GM Sutovsky, Emil
5.5
ISR
2695
2669
25
GM Khalifman, Alexander
5.5
RUS
2638
2626
26
GM Movsesian, Sergei
5.0
ARM
2721
2668
27
GM Motylev, Alexander
5.0
RUS
2687
2603
28
IM Dubov, Daniil
5.0
RUS
2459
2699
29
IM Kovalenko, Igor
5.0
UKR
2515
2664

The B Open was won by Armenian GM Tigran Kotonjian, just edging out Filipino GM Darwin Laylo.

Final standings of Open B

Rk
Name
Pts
Fed.
Rtg
Perf
1
GM Kotanjian, Tigran
7.0
ARM
2519
2705
2
GM Laylo, Darwin
7.0
PHI
2516
2694
3
GM Kabanov, Nikolai
7.0
RUS
2482
2657
4
GM Rogozenco, Dorian
6.5
ROU
2534
2620
5
FM Nakhapetiane, Pogos
6.5
RUS
2469
2645
6
GM Wen, Yang
6.5
CHN
2509
2632
7
GM Smirnov, Pavel
6.5
RUS
2523
2610
8
IM Pridorozhni, Aleksei
6.5
RUS
2543
2601
9
GM Gavrilov, Alexei
6.0
RUS
2484
2591
10
Gundavaa, Bayarsaikhan
6.0
MGL
2493
2583
11
FM Hayrapetian, Ovik
6.0
ARM
2344
2600

The C Open was taken by Armenian junior David Shahinyan (2271) who won with an impressive 8.0/9, beating his closest rival Simonian in the penultimate round.

Final standings of Open C

Rk
Name
Pts
Fed.
Rtg
Perf
1
Shahinyan, David
8.0
ARM
2271
2558
2
Simonian, Tigran
7.5
ARM
2271
2448
3
Barsamian, Eduard
7.0
RUS
2213
2374
4
Gharagyozian, Artur
6.5
ARM
2212
2376
5
Belyakov, Bogdan
6.5
RUS
2293
2337
6
Manukyan, Sargis V.
6.5
ARM
2228
2349
7
Artamonov, Valery
6.5
RUS
2265
2338
8
FM Orlov, Nikolay I.
6.5
RUS
2252
2200
9
Khojayan, Vardan
6.0
ARM
2230
2248
10
WGM Burtasova, Anna
6.0
RUS
2294
2299

The World Blitz Qualifier

Pictures by Yana Melnikova

The next day came the qualifier for the World Blitz Championship, in which many top players came to enjoy a few hours of intense adrenaline and fun, with a chance for a nice payday at the end of the road. Aside from the competitors from the Moscow and Aeroflot opens, were elite players Karjakin, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Ponomariov, and Russian Champion Nepomniachtchi. The time control was 3 minutes plus a two-second increment per move, to be played with nine double-rounds (each player played each other twice, once with white, and once with black) and the top six would qualify for the final.

After the dust had settled, Mamedyarov was the winner with 14.5/18, followed by Ponomariov with 14, Andreikin and Tomashevsky with 13.5, and Wesley So together with Vitiugov on 13, all of whom qualified. Yana Melnikova was there that day and took a number of memorable pictures of the event.


Some of the world's best came to show they were the ones to be reckoned with. Here
are Grischuk, Karjakin, Motylev, and Mamedyarov.


Although the highlights were top players, such as Mamedyarov,
who took clear first...


or Ruslan Ponomariov who came in second...


it was also a chance for all players to take a famous scalp, and a story to brag about


Azerbaidjani Rauf Mamedov (2660)


Alexander Motylev (2687) is a regular in the very strong very long Chinese Chess League


Ian Nepomniachtchi (2733)


17-year-old Filipino Wesley So (2673)


Chinese Zhao Xue (2494)


Spaniard Francisco Vallejo-Pons is fresh from a brilliant result
at Reggio Emilia, where he came tied 1st-2nd


There were numerous groups of players who quite possibly travelled together, and
who stayed in their cliques such as the Filipino players above


However many players from all around the world, just enjoyed a chance to exchange
views and meet others, such as Indian GM Sandipab and regular Chessbase author
Rustam Kasimdzhanov.


Kovanova and Pogonina enjoying a spicy story. Don't let your imagination run too wild!


The playing hall in full action


The round-by-round results and pairings were posted just outside


20-year-old Dmitry Andreikin (2689)


French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2715) recently won the
European Blitz Championship ahead of Ivanchuk and Ponomariov
among other notables.


Passing on the result to one of the arbiters dressed in distinctive green vests. The
next time they come out of the closets will be during St. Patrick's Day.


Please don't ask how my last game went


The champion of the qualifier: Shakriyar Mamedyarov (2772)


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