The prestigious Aeroflot Open 2017 begins!

by Sagar Shah
2/24/2017 – After the Gibraltar Masters, we have another super strong open tournament on our menu - the Aeroflot Open 2017. With an average rating of 2582 and players like Yu Yangyi, Vitiugov, Inarkiev, Jobava, taking part, it is a tournament that is packed with action. We bring you an illustrated report from first three rounds of the event.

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili (EK), Vasily Papin (VP), Moscow Chess (MC)

The Aeroflot Open 2017 is back and with a rating average of 2582 it is one of the strongest tournaments in the world. The A group has a rating cut off of 2550+. This year witnesses the participation of 98 players with five players above 2700 and 35 players between 2600 to 2700. The top seed is Yu Yangyi followed by Nikita Vitiugov and Ernesto Inarkiev. The total prize fund for the tournament is €1,20,000 and the first place winner get €18,000. The tournament champion also gets a spot in the prestigious Dortmund super tournament. Hotel Cosmos, one of biggest hotels in Russia, is where the tournament takes place. There are also B (2300-2550) and C (below 2300) events taking place at the same venue.

Another feature that makes the tournament completely unique is the time control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from the first. This helps to maintain quite a high quality of play, and that is also the reason why after three rounds we have no player on a perfect 3.0/3 score! Six players share the lead with 2.5/3. They include Ilia Smirin, Emilio Cordova, Maxim Matlakov, Evgeniy Najer, Eduardo Itturizaga and Matthias Bluebaum.

The Cosmos hotel complex was built to serve the XXII Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow in 1980. With 1,777 rooms it is the largest in Russia. The hotel included 1,718 standard rooms, 53 double room suites and 6 four-room suites. (VP)

The hotel does look enchanting at night! (photo: Vidit Gujrathi)

The playing hall at the opening ceremony...

...and when the games begin! (MC)

From left to right: The man who makes the event possible Alexander Bakh, the chief arbiter of the event Andzrej Fillipowicz and the former editor-in-chief of 64 magazine Mark Glukhovsky (EK)

The drawing of lots to determine the colour for the top seed (EK)

The game between the excellent blitz player Rauf Mamedov and the blindfold king Timur Gareev attracted a lot of eyeballs at the opening ceremony (EK)

There are very few people who do not like the affable Baadur Jobava! Rauf Mamedov is happy to meet his Georgian friend! (EK)

16 players from India are playing in just the A category. This is the second largest contingent at the event, the first being Russia with 30 players. Above you can see Anish Giri's second GM Vidit Gujrathi analyzing with Jorden van Foreest as Swapnil Dhopade and Narayan Srinath look on. (EK)

The lady in blue is the mother of one of the biggest chess prodigies in the world. Can you guess who? (EK)

Two Poles and an American: Andrzej Fillipowicz and Dariusz Swiercz with ChessBase editor Alejandro Ramirez (EK)

With his ability to show strong performances at open events, the top seeded Yu Yangyi is definitely a favourite to win the event. He hasn't had the smoothest of starts. One win and two draws, and the win in itself was pretty lucky! (MC)

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2017"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2017.02.22"] [Round "2.13"] [White "Blomqvist, Erik"] [Black "Yu, Yangyi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C07"] [WhiteElo "2573"] [BlackElo "2738"] [Annotator "Sagar,Shah"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2017.02.21"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. Ngf3 Qxc5 7. Bd3 Be7 8. Qe2 Nbd7 9. O-O O-O 10. a4 Qc7 11. a5 Nd5 12. Ne4 Nf4 13. Bxf4 Qxf4 14. Rfd1 Ne5 15. Nxe5 Qxe5 16. Nc3 Bf6 17. Ne4 Be7 18. Nc3 Qxe2 19. Bxe2 Rb8 20. Bf3 g6 21. g3 Kg7 22. Nb5 a6 23. Nd6 b5 24. axb6 Rxb6 25. Nc4 Rb5 26. b3 h5 27. h4 g5 28. hxg5 Rxg5 29. Ra5 Rxa5 30. Nxa5 h4 31. gxh4 Bxh4 32. Kf1 e5 33. Nc4 Bf5 34. Ne3 Bg6 35. Ra1 e4 36. Be2 f5 37. Rxa6 f4 38. Ng4 Bf5 39. Ra7+ Kg6 40. Ne5+ Kf6 41. Nd7+ Bxd7 42. Rxd7 f3 43. Bb5 Ra8 44. Rd1 Ra2 45. Re1 Rxc2 46. Rxe4 Rxf2+ 47. Kg1 Kg5 48. Bf1 Rb2 49. b4 Bg3 {[#] The position is very close to a draw. All that White has to do here is get his bishop out from f1. However, Erik Blomqvist misses Black's idea completely.} 50. b5 $2 (50. Bh3 Rb1+ 51. Bf1 $11) 50... Bh2+ $1 51. Kh1 Bc7 $1 {The threat now is Rh2+ followed by f2+. At the same time the bishop is now going to be perfectly posted on b6 in order to meet Kg1.} 52. Kg1 Bb6+ 53. Kh1 Rb1 {And just like that the bishop is lost and so is the game!} 54. Re5+ Kf4 0-1

Nikita Vitiugov is currently on 2.0/3 and just like Yu Yangyi has two draws and a win (MC)

Ernesto Inarkiev is on 2.0/3 (MC)

Fresh from his success at the Tata Steel Masters, B. Adhiban isn't having the best of events. He is currently on 1.0/3, as he lost the third round to Alexander Predke. (MC)

Former World Championship challenger Gata Kamsky is also fighting at the event

Like in the World Rapid and Blitz, Baadur Jobava continues his strategy of wearing the dark glasses! (VP)

Three great players captured in one frame: (left to right) Defending champion Evgeniy Najer, Alexander Motylev and one of the leaders Ilia Smirin


The young kid is the centre is Nodirbek Abdusattorov. 12 years old, he has already made waves in the chess circles by beating many a strong grandmasters. At the Aeroflot Open he beat a 2584 grandmaster in just 19 moves. (VP)

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2017"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2017.02.21"] [Round "1.47"] [White "Lalith, Babu M R"] [Black "Abdusattorov, Nodirbek"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E35"] [WhiteElo "2584"] [BlackElo "2429"] [Annotator "Sagar,Shah"] [PlyCount "38"] [EventDate "2017.02.21"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 O-O 8. e3 Be6 9. a3 Be7 10. Bd3 c5 $1 {Black is ahead in development and logically opens the position.} 11. dxc5 (11. Nf3 {was safer.}) 11... d4 $1 12. exd4 Nc6 { Black keeps developing as quickly as he can. No time to waste.} 13. Nge2 Nxd4 14. Nxd4 Qxd4 15. Ne4 $2 (15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. O-O Qxc5 17. Ne4 Qe7 18. Nxf6+ Qxf6 $11 {This is equal. Lalith Babu, being the higher rated, wanted more.}) 15... Nxe4 $1 16. Bxe7 Bb3 $3 {Such a move is easy to miss!} 17. Qe2 Nxf2 $1 (17... Rfe8 {is also pretty strong as after} 18. Qxe4 Qxe4+ 19. Bxe4 Rxe7 20. f3 f5 $19 {Black wins a piece.}) 18. Qxf2 Qxd3 {The white king is stranded with nowhere to go.} 19. Qh4 Bc4 {What a picture of discord is White's position!} 0-1

Maxim Matlakov on his way towards victory against S.P. Sethuraman using the Sicilian Sveshnikov!

On 50% are Sanan Sjugirov (let) from Russia and Rinat Jumabayev from Kazakhstan (VP)

Time pressure always attracts spectators! (VG)

The analysis room outside the playing hall (VP)

Tournament director Alexander Bakh ensures that things are moving smoothly at the event (VP)

Two legends in different fields - IM and chief arbiter Andzrej Fillipowicz and world class photographer Boris Dolmatovsky

No mobile phones! (VP)

For all those not staying at Hotel Cosmos, there is a metro station at walking distance from the venue... (VP)

...but walking in nearly zero degree temperature is not to everyone's taste! (Vidit Gujrathi)


Rank after Round 3

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Smirin Ilia 2,5 2
2 Cordova Emilio 2,5 2
3 Matlakov Maxim 2,5 1
4 Najer Evgeniy 2,5 1
5 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2,5 1
6 Bluebaum Matthias 2,5 1
7 Vavulin Maksim 2,0 2
  Bok Benjamin 2,0 2
9 Gordievsky Dmitry 2,0 2
10 Narayanan Srinath 2,0 2

Complete list

Round 4 on 2017/02/24 at 15:00

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Cordova Emilio   Matlakov Maxim
Smirin Ilia   Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo
Bluebaum Matthias   Najer Evgeniy
Yu Yangyi 2   2 Khismatullin Denis
Vitiugov Nikita 2   2 Kobalia Mikhail
Sethuraman S.P. 2   2 Inarkiev Ernesto
Jobava Baadur 2   2 Bosiocic Marin
Vavulin Maksim 2   2 Mamedov Rauf
Kovalev Vladislav 2   2 Movsesian Sergei
Sasikiran Krishnan 2   2 Tari Aryan

Complete pairings

Download games

Official website

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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flachspieler flachspieler 2/24/2017 08:31
Thanks for the nice report and the fine photos. In particular I like to see the Gagarin monument in the first and the very last photo!
Aighearach Aighearach 2/24/2017 09:45
So nice to see Kamsky with some hair. Well done!
hellzorganist hellzorganist 2/25/2017 02:19
After headscarves in Teheran, chess players appear to have acquired some sort of a social conscience. Let's follow it through by boycotting Aeroflot, since the Duma just voted by 308 votes to 3 to decriminalise wife-beating.