Aeroflot Open starts

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/28/2015 – After hosting a rapid in 2013, and skipping 2014, many had given up on the tournament - a gem that had been cancelled, a memory of an incomparably strong open. But the Aeroflot Open is back! The tournament is not as top-heavy as Gibraltar, but it packs an amazing Group A where the minimum rating requirement is a whopping 2550! The first round has been played, with some brilliant games.

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After a couple of years hiatus the Aeroflot Open is back!

The classic event has been more than just a massive super-strong series of opens, it has been the proving grounds for the players on the rise, a rich source of norms, and competition for all levels divided into three opens. It also has a richly doted blitz tournament at the end, free of entry for those registered in tournaments A and B.

Winning the A tournament is a notable point of prestige for a player, and has heralded many a new star on the come. What is so special about it that even the grandmasters come with the intention of just playing hard, fighting hard? To start with, there is the cutoff point: you need to be rated 2550 just to play. Granted the organizers do make a few exceptions, notably for young players expected to do better than their rating suggests, but no other Open in the world has such a stiff requirement. On top of that the winner of the Aeroflot Open A section will directly qualify for the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting later this year.

This year's top 30 participants:

No.   Name   FED Rtg  
1   Mamedyarov Shakhriyar   AZE 2756  
2   Nepomniachtchi Ian   RUS 2714  
3   Rapport Richard   HUN 2709  
4   Vallejo Pons Francisco   ESP 2708  
5   Inarkiev Ernesto   RUS 2706  
6   Korobov Anton   UKR 2694  
7   Matlakov Maxim   RUS 2693  
8   Sasikiran Krishnan   IND 2682  
9   Fedoseev Vladimir   RUS 2674  
10   Grachev Boris   RUS 2673  
11   Petrosian Tigran L.   ARM 2671  
12   Sjugirov Sanan   RUS 2669  
13   Kovalenko Igor   LAT 2661  
14   Mamedov Rauf   AZE 2658  
15   Zvjaginsev Vadim   RUS 2658  
16   Motylev Alexander   RUS 2653  
17   Khismatullin Denis   RUS 2650  
18   Adhiban B.   IND 2646  
19   Kobalia Mikhail   RUS 2632  
20   Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo   VEN 2630  
21   Khairullin Ildar   RUS 2630  
22   Dubov Daniil   RUS 2627  
23   Salgado Lopez Ivan   ESP 2627  
24   Vidit Santosh Gujrathi   IND 2625  
25   Sethuraman S.P.   IND 2623  
26   Bukavshin Ivan   RUS 2618  
27   Tregubov Pavel V.   RUS 2617  
28   Anton Guijarro David   ESP 2614  
29   Khalifman Alexander   RUS 2613  
30   Ponkratov Pavel   RUS 2613

The Aeroflot Open will not top the Gibraltar Open in terms of raw strength at the top, but it more than makes up for it in sheer number of grandmaster players. The tournament only has 72 players, and the organizers only granted a few exceptions for players under 2550 to be able to participate. The lowest rated player is the Kazakh sensation Zhansaya Abdumalik, who comes from a fantastic performance in Reykjavik.

Organizer Alexander Bach addressing the crowd

Ashot Vardapetyan and Elina Danielian

Top seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

At 2653 Alexander Motylev would easily be the top seed in most opens, but not in Aeroflot

Anton Korobov from Ukraine

A little champagne to kick off the festivities

Round One - Top Boards

Bo. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg
1 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2756 0 1 - 0 0 Savchenko Boris 2581
2 Bogdanovich Stanislav 2581 0 ½ - ½ 0 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2714
3 Rapport Richard 2709 0 1 - 0 0 Bluebaum Matthias 2576
4 Grigoriants Sergey 2573 0 ½ - ½ 0 Vallejo Pons Francisco 2708
5 Inarkiev Ernesto 2706 0 1 - 0 0 Jumabayev Rinat 2572
6 Esen Baris 2571 0 0 - 1 0 Korobov Anton 2694
7 Matlakov Maxim 2693 0 0 - 1 0 Lu Shanglei 2570
8 Yilmaz Mustafa 2570 0 0 - 1 0 Sasikiran Krishnan 2682
9 Fedoseev Vladimir 2674 0 1 - 0 0 Sandipan Chanda 2569
10 Stupak Kirill 2567 0 ½ - ½ 0 Grachev Boris 2673
11 Petrosian Tigran L. 2671 0 1 - 0 0 Kotronias Vasilios 2565
12 Oparin Grigoriy 2562 0 ½ - ½ 0 Sjugirov Sanan 2669
13 Kovalenko Igor 2661 0 1 - 0 0 Can Emre 2555
14 Mozharov Mikhail 2555 0 ½ - ½ 0 Mamedov Rauf 2658
15 Zvjaginsev Vadim 2658 0 1 - 0 0 Gabuzyan Hovhannes 2553
16 Wagner Dennis 2549 0 ½ - ½ 0 Motylev Alexander 2653
17 Khismatullin Denis 2650 0 ½ - ½ 0 Ernst Sipke 2530
18 Predke Alexandr 2530 0 0 - 1 0 Adhiban B. 2646
19 Kobalia Mikhail 2632 0 1 - 0 0 Antipov Mikhail Al. 2529
20 Al-Sayed Mohammed 2511 0 ½ - ½ 0 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2630

Already from the first round results it is obvious that this is not a normal Swiss. True, the top rated players are still playing against underdogs, but instead of the usual 300 or 400 point gap, there is but a 150-170 difference at the most. Many draws were seen and a couple of surprises, the most notable probably being the victory of Lu Shanglei over Matlakov. The Chinese player had already made headlines when he beat Carlsen last year in the World Blitz Championship.

Mamedyarov was playing the strong player Savchenko, but to say he had no problems would be a euphemism:

[Event "12th Aeroflot Open 2015"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "2015.03.27"] [Round "1"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Savchenko, Boris"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2756"] [BlackElo "2581"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Qc2 c5 8. Rd1 cxd4 9. Rxd4 Bb4 $6 {Perhaps Savchenko was already unfamiliar with the position, as he took a decent amount of time to reach here. Instead of this move several top grandmaster games have seen the move} (9... Qa5 10. Bg3 Nb6 $5 11. Nd2 {Aronian-Radjabov, 2011, just to name one game.}) 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Bd3 h6 12. O-O {It's clear that Black has fallen considerably behind in development. Savchenko tries to offset that by gaining a structural advantage, but it is insufficient.} Bxc3 13. bxc3 Nxf4 14. exf4 $16 {White's bind on the center with the open d-file and better placed pieces make Black's life very difficult.} Qc7 15. Rd1 Nc5 $2 {Already a decisive mistake!} (15... b6 {was preferable, allowing the bishop to exit via b7 at some point after the knight from d7 moves.}) 16. Bh7+ Kh8 17. Ne5 {Suddenly Black is facing a strong threat:} g5 {desperation.} (17... b6 18. Rd8 $1 Rxd8 (18... Bb7 19. R8d7 $1 { Perhaps Savchenko originally missed this move.} Nxd7 20. Rxd7 Qc8 21. Rxf7 { And White's attack is easily decisive.}) 19. Rxd8+ Qxd8 20. Nxf7# {is mate!}) 18. Bg6 $1 {Very precise, the bishop is taboo and the pressure keeps mounting.} gxf4 (18... fxg6 19. Nxg6+ Kg7 20. Nxf8 Kxf8 21. Qg6 $18) 19. Qe2 $1 {Black has no resources on the kingside to beat back the attack. Sacvhenko was simply forced to resign.} 1-0

Vladimir Potkin also dispatched his opponent in a brilliant manner:

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2015"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2015.03.27"] [Round "1.31"] [White "Potkin, Vladimir"] [Black "Tabatabaei, M.amin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "2605"] [BlackElo "2448"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2015.03.27"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O a6 7. e3 O-O 8. b3 Ba7 9. Qc2 Re8 10. Bb2 h6 11. Nh4 Bd7 12. a3 Qc8 13. f4 Nd4 14. Qd3 Nxb3 15. fxe5 Ng4 (15... dxe5 16. Rxf6 $1 Nxa1 17. Bd5 $1 {Is nothing that Black wanted to toil with. Instead he moves the knight, keeping the threat on a1.}) 16. Nd5 $1 (16. Rae1 {the mere mortal move, is ok, but not as good as the game.} Nxe5 17. Qc2 Nc5 18. d4 Ncd3 19. dxe5 Nxe1 20. Rxe1 dxe5 $13) 16... Nc5 (16... Nxa1 17. Rxf7 $1 (17. exd6 {is also very strong, with the follow up of Rxf7 in the air.}) 17... Kxf7 18. Qg6+ Kf8 19. e6 $1 {And White crashes through decisively. }) 17. Qc2 dxe5 (17... Be6 18. exd6 cxd6 19. Nf5 $18) 18. Rxf7 $1 {What a shot! } Kxf7 19. Qh7 {Not even a check, but decisive. Black has no good way of meeting the threat of Rf1+.} Ke6 20. Nf5 $1 {Putting in more pressure! Black is up a full rook but with his king on e6 it is clear he will not survive.} Na4 21. Nxc7+ {With a beautiful checkmate after} (21. Nxc7+ Qxc7 22. Qg6+ Nf6 23. Bd5#) 1-0

Round Two Pairings

Bo.   Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg
1 GM Khairullin Ildar 2630 1   1 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2756
2 GM Dubov Daniil 2627 1   1 GM Rapport Richard 2709
3 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2627 1   1 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2706
4 GM Korobov Anton 2694 1   1 GM Khalifman Alexander 2613
5 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2682 1   1 GM Potkin Vladimir 2605
6 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2625 1   1 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2674
7 GM Ponkratov Pavel 2613 1   1 GM Petrosian Tigran L. 2671
8 GM Bok Benjamin 2587 1   1 GM Kovalenko Igor 2661
9 GM Lu Shanglei 2570 1   1 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim 2658
10 GM Adhiban B. 2646 1   1 GM Svetushkin Dmitry 2592
11 IM Van Foreest Jorden 2493 1   1 GM Kobalia Mikhail 2632
12 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2714 ½   ½ GM Grigoriants Sergey 2573
13 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2708 ½   ½ IM Bogdanovich Stanislav 2581
14 GM Grachev Boris 2673 ½   ½ GM Oparin Grigoriy 2562
15 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2669 ½   ½ GM Stupak Kirill 2567
16 GM Mamedov Rauf 2658 ½   ½ IM Wagner Dennis 2549
17 GM Motylev Alexander 2653 ½   ½ GM Mozharov Mikhail 2555
18 GM Ankit R. Rajpara 2477 ½   ½ GM Khismatullin Denis 2650
19 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2630 ½   ½ IM Sanal Vahap 2487
20 GM Bukavshin Ivan 2618 ½   ½ GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2511

Only 22 people remain unscathed from the first round, and the top matches already promise interesting chess. The top game will be between Khairullin-Mamedyarov, not an easy task for the top seed to continue on a perfect score.

Photos Boris Dolmatovski

Replay Round One Games

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Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Topics Aeroflot, Russia

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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hobbsey hobbsey 3/29/2015 10:40
Well your use of quotes does prove my point :) But you are right, it's not a big deal in comparison to climate change, plane crashes etc.
KevinC KevinC 3/28/2015 12:23
@hobbsey, a lot of "opens" have sections, and this one is no different. So what? Big deal.
hobbsey hobbsey 3/28/2015 09:49
If there is a minimum rating requirement to play then it should not be called an Open and shouldn't be compared directly with genuine Opens. I appreciate though that the tournament has a very different character to an all-play-all GM tournament. Maybe it should be called a GM Swiss or Elite Swiss?
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