Aeroflot Open: Le Quang Liem takes full point lead in 'last' open?

2/15/2011 – Despite the wonderful conditions, such as a generous prizefund with $20,000 for first place, reduced airfares, and even airport taxes covered by the organizers, the tournament director has admitted that next year's event is not guaranteed. Though attendance is on a low, possibly due to the world crisis, the field has been no less impressive. A beautiful illustrated report by Anna Burtasova.

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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.

"Aeroflot Open" on 10th run

Report and pictures by Anna Burtasova

The 2011 "Aeroflot Open" is celebrating an anniversary – Moscow’s strongest Open is on its 10th run. The sponsor of this big event is "Aeroflot" airlines, and that is how chess players wishing to take part in the tournament can fly so cheaply to the Russian capital. This year, for those purchasing an airplane ticket for the event, the organizers are even covering airport and fuel taxes of its players.


The tournament is being held at the "Izmailovo" hotel complex.
Previously, it was held in the "Russia" hotel, overlooking the Red
Square, but the closed its doors and the tournament needed a new venue.


It has been snowing for three days in Moscow and the prevailing temperatures have
been freezing. At the start of the tournament it was unusually warm for a Russian winter.


This is how it looks outside the hotel


But we enter and go to the third floor


The entrance to the playing hall: At 9:30 AM the participants of the C-tournament
play, and then at 3 PM the clocks start for the A and B tournaments.


Souvenirs with the tournament logos

However, there are rumors that this could be the last Aeroflot Open. In an interview at the Russian website www.chess news.ru, tournament director Aleksander Bakh said, "When deciding upon this year's tournament, we also discussed a possible open next year. I cannot guarantee that it will take place, but I have not given up hope. About a month after the end of this tournament I will meet with the leaders of "Aeroflot" and try to convince them to continue this tournament’s tradition. However, "Aeroflot" now has new decision makers and they must be convinced of this tournament importance to them."


Everything is ready for the round. This is how the playing hall looks a half hour before
the start of the round. You do not have to be absolutely on time for the game, but if
you arrive more than thirty minutes late, you lose the game without a fight.


Monitors with live coverage at the playing hall’s entrance. In order to prevent possible
fraud, the games are transmitted with a 15-minute delay.


As you can see, some players quit their games early. In this tournament there are no
special rules governing draws.


In the vicinity of the monitors, one can analyze the games


The referees wear leprechaun uniforms that help them stand out from the crowd


The beginning of the round: Chief Arbiter Gert Gijssen routinely reminds everyone to
turn off their mobile phones.

The reaction from the chairman of Russian Chess Federation was prompt. In his Twitter account, Arkady Dvorkovich wrote that he had "no doubt that the Aeroflot tournaments would continue to take place.

The rumors about problems with the tournament organization, in which the first prize in the ‘A’ tournament is USD $20,000, could be further fueled by the changes that have occurred this year, such as the elimination of the A2 tournament. Instead, players with an Elo rating over 2549 can participate in the in the ‘A’tournament, while players whose Elo rating is between 2300 and 2549 must play in the ‘B’ tournament, and players with an Elo rating below 2300 can only play in the ‘C’ tournament.

Here are some figures on participation in the tournament:

2001 - 363
2002 - 370
2003 - 476
2004 - 644;
2005 - 673
2006 - 630
2007 - 450
2008 - 432
2009 - 406
2010 - 264
2011 - 300

But does fewer players (considering the number of participants in 2011 compared with the figures for 2004-2006) mean lower quality? Not so with the "Aeroflot Open"! Of the 86 players in the A-tournament at the start, only fifteen are not grandmasters. Not to mention the number one seed Gata Kamsky, followed by Sergey Movsesian, Dmitry Jakovenko and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.


Tomashevski and Le at the start of their game in the fifth round. The result
was ultimately a draw and the Vietnamese player ceded his first half-point!


With 5.0/7, Tomashevsky is tied for second


Tigran Petrosian and Sergey Movsesian are in good spirits before the round


Gata Kamsky has not been in form and lost to both Le Quang
and Ding. He is now at 4.0/7.


This doesn't prevent him from being the center of attention


The start of the fifth round. Bologan does his Yoga exercises


Ivan Cheparinov is on 5.0/7 and tied for second, while Ding Liren has 4.5/7, though
both with 2700+ performances.


American GM Robert Hess and Artem Timofeev


Alexander Khalifman finally won a game in the seventh round,
after drawing his first six!


Chanda Sandipan lost to Kamsky in the third round, but then recovered with two wins
and is now on 4.5/7 and a 2720 performance.


Dimitry Jakovenko started strong with 2.5/3, but since has drawn
all his games.


Vadim Zviaginsev is on 4.5/7

This extremely strong field leads to interesting encounters right from the beginning. To end up in front in such tournaments, you don’t need to win every game, but it is important not to lose. The leader after round seven, Le Quang Liem, has his own tournament strategy, and won the first four rounds, including a victory over Kamsky in the fourth round, and after two draws, beat his nearest rival Kobalia in round seven.

Kobalia,M (2666) - Le Quang Liem (2664) [A25]
Aeroflot Open A Moscow RUS (7), 14.02.2011

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bb4 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.d3 Bxc3 8.bxc3 h6 9.Ne1 A very unusual continuation. 9...e4 10.Nc2 Re8 11.Rb1 b6 12.Bf4 This move, which may develop a piece, doesn't seem to belong to any cohesive plan. 12...Bb7 13.Nd4 Qd7 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.Qd2 Re7 16.d4?








16...Bb7. Liem misses a chance to apply maximum pressure with 16...e3! 17.Bxe3 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Qc6+ 19.Kg1 Rae8! And Black will not only recover his pawn, but will gain another for his efforts. Ng4 cannot be stopped and if 20.Rfe1 (20.h3? loses to 20...Ne4 21.Qd3 Nxg3 Qh1 mate is threatened, and the exchange is lost since taking the knight with 22.fxg3 Rxe3 is fatal.) 20...Qxc4 17.c5 Ba6 18.Rfd1 Nd5 19.Be3 Bc4 20.Qc2? Kobalia is just not himself in this game. Could the nerves of fighting for first place have given him the jitters? 20...Qg4 21.cxd6 cxd6 22.Re1 Nxe3 23.fxe3 d5








White's forces are split, unable to connect, the bishop is a prisoner, and the king is a target waiting to be attacked. It doesn't get much bleaker than this without being down material or facing mate. 24.Rb2 Rc8 25.Rf1 Rc6 26.Qa4 Rec7 27.Rc2 g5. Preventing Rf4 and preparing the final assault. 28.Kf2 h5 0-1. [Click to replay]

With this win Le leaps into a full one-point lead over the field with 6.0/7 and a 2948 performance. Behind him are no fewer than seven players with 5.0/7: Khismatullin, 17-year-old Chinese junior Yu Yangyi, Vitiugov, Tomashevsky, Kasimdzhanov, Mamedov, and Cheparinov who won a short but destructive game.


Robert Hess started with a commendable 3.0/5, but lost his last two games and is
now on 3.0/7. It says a lot about the strength of the event that his performance is still
over 2600.


Avetik Grigorian enjoys his sunglasses


Alexandra Kosteniuk and Natalia Pogonina were neighbors for several rounds


Boris Grachev, the winner of the round-robin GM tournament in the Moscow Open,
acknowledged in an interview that it was tough playing two tournaments in a row, and
that one rest day was not enough to recover. That said he is still on 4.5/7!


GM Ni Hua has played a solid, if unexciting tournament, with one
win and six draws so far..


Daniele Vocaturo wearing his trademark cap


Zhao Xue was on 4.0/5 in the B tournament but lost her last two games


Tigran Kotanjian is the tiebreak leader in the B tournament with 5.5/7, ahead of five
others with the same score, including the Moscow Open winner, untitled Vladimir Belous.


Two more rounds to go!


Standings after seven rounds

Rk
Name
Pts
Fed.
Rtg
Perf
1
GM Le, Quang Liem
6.0
VIE
2664
2946
2
GM Khismatullin, Denis
5.0
RUS
2649
2813
3
GM Yu, Yangyi
5.0
CHN
2607
2785
4
GM Vitiugov, Nikita
5.0
RUS
2709
2783
5
GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny
5.0
RUS
2695
2779
6
GM Kasimdzhanov, Rustam
5.0
UZB
2681
2752
7
GM Mamedov, Rauf
5.0
AZE
2660
2742
8
GM Cheparinov, Ivan
5.0
BUL
2665
2722
9
GM Jakovenko, Dmitry
4.5
RUS
2718
2741
10
GM Sandipan, Chanda
4.5
IND
2641
2720
11
GM Rodshtein, Maxim
4.5
ISR
2625
2698
12
GM Grachev, Boris
4.5
RUS
2660
2674
13
GM Zvjaginsev, Vadim
4.5
RUS
2660
2684
14
GM Petrosian, Tigran L.
4.5
ARM
2604
2775
15
GM Kobalia, Mikhail
4.5
RUS
2666
2740
16
GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
4.5
FRA
2715
2718
17
GM Zhou, Jianchao
4.5
CHN
2655
2712
18
GM Sjugirov, Sanan
4.5
RUS
2626
2698
19
GM Ding, Liren
4.5
CHN
2628
2706
20
GM Vuckovic, Bojan
4.5
SRB
2623
2681
21
GM Salgado Lopez, Ivan
4.0
ESP
2626
2707
22
FM Bukavshin, Ivan
4.0
RUS
2458
2709
23
GM Kamsky, Gata
4.0
USA
2730
2685

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