A million Elo points at the Aeroflot Open

2/9/2006 – It is one of the world's most prestigious Opens, with top players from all over the world congregating to Moscow, in spite of freezing temperatures, to play for the US $175,000 prize fund. In spite of initial glitches with the Internet connection we bring you impressions from Aeroflot 2006.

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The traditional Aeroflot Open is being staged in Moscow from February 7 (arrival) to 17 (departure), 2006 at the Hotel Gamma (part of the Tourist Complex "Ismailovo"). The Festival consists of four nine-round Swiss tournaments, with a total prize fund of US $175,000. The winner of A1 tournament will be invited to play in the Dortmund Sparkassen Meeting, which takes place from July 23 to August 5, 2006.

Impressions from the Aeroflot Tournament

Report from Moscow by Misha Savinov

“In these hard times when Russia is being demolished… I mean, the Hotel 'Russia'” – this is how Alexander Roshal, head of the press center and guru of chess journalism in general started his welcome speech to the crowd. A keen sense of humor helps to survive in transition times.


Tournament arbiter Geurt Gijssen with Alexander Roshal

The transition from the hotel “Rossija” near the Kremlin to the 3-star “Izmailovo” on the outskirts of the Russian capital could certainly be more painful. Still, a number of problems arose. Some players looked unhappy with the fact that breakfast is no longer included in the tournament package. A number of nicotine addicts got their rooms on non-smoking floors.


Reception area of the three star Izmailovo Hotel

Fortunately for them (although not for the rest of us), it is allowed to smoke just outside the tournament area, not to mention numerous cafes and restaurants. I personally appreciated that one of the cafes broadcasts football matches on a large screen. Also, I would like to complain about problems with the Internet, but they have probably already been fixed if you can read these lines.


GM Ruslan Scherbakov signing in for the 2006 Aeroflot Open


Let me check if you have paid the entrance fee…


Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran registers

In the hotel “Rossija” players were allowed to use internet for free (at least some evenings they could surf the web and play chess for ducats). This time the organizers decided not to present the players with such perks. In “Izmailovo” there is a small Internet café, and although they are charging at least twice the regular prize, all the computers are constantly occupied by thirsty chess players.


Working the computers and the Internet in Moscow


The world's strongest women's chess force arrives in Moscow


On the left Zhu Chen with her husband GM Mohamad Al-Modiahki


Women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova arrives


Chatting with American GM Alexander Shabalov


Special guest: ex world champion Anatoly Karpov


In great sprits, here with French GM Bachar Kouatly


FIDE Deputy President Georges Makropoulos and organiser Alexander Bach

The playing hall is okay, warm, but not overheated. This Winter in Russia is unusually cold, it is around –20 to –25 C in Moscow, but you can’t tell it being inside. Such weather condition certainly makes the players concentrate on chess. It is rumored (on weather.yahoo.com and Russian service gismeteo.ru) that we’ll enjoy a balmy –5 to –10 C by the end of the event, which is good for chess tourists. I would recommend visiting the CSKA Basket Hall for any of the Euroleague matches, where one can always find a good mixture of basketball and wild cheerleaders’ dances.


Playing blitz in the café on a magnetic chess board

The first round has started, however, there is no sign of a stable Internet connection, which means that (1) I can’t send the report and (2) you can’t see the games online. Too bad; the good news is that the technicians are aware of it; in fact, they are fixing it while I am typing. So, let us hope for the best.


More than a million Elo points collected in one hall


GM Pavel Tregubov speaks for the ACP

Links

  • Official web site – very professional and ambitiously presented in Russian and English
  • Games – live coverage and games to replay on a Flash board or for download as PGN.
  • Photos – There are lots of photos, presented in a very slick Macromedia Flash client, which does not work properly in Firefox but is fine in Internet Explorer. Once more there are no captions, so you either know the faces or simply enjoy the general atmosphere.
  • Information and regulations


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