Aeroflot: Jakovenko, Alekseev, Tomashevsky lead

2/22/2007 – Actually the sensation is 21-year-old GM Stanislav Novikov, who has come out of nowhere – and from a very modest background – to show opening originality, excellent endgame knowledge, pragmatism, stubbornness in defense and incredible determination. Take a look at his tenacious draw against Jakovenko. Misha Savinov reports.

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The Sixth Aeroflot Festival is taking place in Moscow from February 13th to 23rd. 2007 in the "Gamma-Delta" Hotel, which belongs to the Tourist Complex "Ismailovo". The Organizers of the Festival are the "Aeroflot-Russian Airlines", the Association of Chess Federations and the Russian Chess Federation in cooperation with the Committee on Tourism of the Municipality of Moscow.

The Aeroflot chess festival has progressed through the mid-point. A bit shadowed by Linares in the chess media, it enjoys better publicity in Russian non-chess news programs – a large-scale festival is much more attractive than an eight-player round-robin that lasts for more than a month.

We have a big surprise in Moscow – 21-year-old grandmaster Stanislav Novikov managed to keep up the pace and remains on top of the table. A man from nowhere – his previous successes are limited to winning the Pardubice open, a big but not very strong tournament, and finishing second in the Aeroflot B section. Novikov comes from a poor family and chess is his main source of income. This may explain his lack of formal instruction, resulting in opening originality, excellent endgame knowledge, pragmatism, stubbornness in defense and incredible determination. His current 2535 Elo is not enough for participating in the A1 section, but the organizers accepted his application, and do not regret it.

In the Round four Novikov defeated Vladimir Belov, who went astray after succumbing to Akopian in 19 moves in the Round three. After that win, Novikov was paired with Evgeny Tomashevsky, who led with a perfect score. Tomashevsky is a very good defender, and he would probably entrench and draw against any other opponent, but against Novikov he threw himself into the attack, sacrificed a pawn, and eventually lost.

Round six brought a tough match-up for Novikov, who despite being a young and growing player has certain limitations. Dmitry Jakovenko is both very strong and very smart; he managed to use the opponent’s wish to split the point to his favor, and obtain a clear advantage. The game proceeded to a rook ending with Black being a pawn up. What happened then was almost a miracle. There aren’t many players who would hold such ending against Jakovenko: objectively drawn, it required utmost precision from White, who risked losing it all with a single inaccurate move.

Spectators gathered around, they walked in and out, reporters made their shots, and Jakovenko acted as if winning was just a matter of time. Outside the playing hall, where at least 20 GMs observed the key game of the day, Mark Dvoretsky and Evgeny Tomashevsky discovered that the games transposes to the Keres position of mutual zugzwang, in which White is saved by a stalemate. Novikov’s endgame technique proved flawless, as he did everything required to save half a point.


Novikov defending against Jakovenko, move 74

Novikov,St (2535) - Jakovenko,D (2691) [E15]
Aeroflot Open Moscow RUS (6), 19.02.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Ba6 10.b3 Nbd7 11.a4 c5 12.Na3 Bb7 13.Qb2 Ne4 14.Bf4 Bf6 15.cxd5 Bxd5 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.Nc4 cxd4 18.Nxd4 Nxf2 19.Kxf2 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 e5 21.Bxe5 Bxe5 22.Rac1 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Qf6 24.Rcd1 Ne5 25.Rf4 Nxc4 26.Rxc4 Rce8 27.e4 Re7 28.Qf2 Qe5 29.Rcd4 g6 30.Qf4 Qe6 31.Rc4 Rc8 32.Rdd4 Rxc4 33.Rxc4 Kg7 34.Qe3 Qe5 35.Qd4 Qxd4 36.Rxd4 Rc7 37.e5 Kf8 38.b4 Rc2+ 39.Kf3 Rxh2 40.Rd7 a6 41.e6 fxe6 42.Rb7 b5 43.axb5 axb5 44.Rxb5 Ke7 45.Rb8 Kf6 46.Kf4 Rf2+ 47.Ke3 Rg2 48.Kf3 Rc2 49.b5 Rb2 50.Kg4 h5+ 51.Kf3 Rb3+ 52.Kf2 Rb2+ 53.Kf3 g5 54.b6 Ke5 55.b7 g4+ 56.Ke3 Rb3+ 57.Kf2 Ke4 58.Kg2 Rb2+ 59.Kf1 e5 60.Kg1 Ke3 61.Kh1 e4 62.Kg1 Ke2 63.Kg2 e3 64.Kg1 Rb6 65.Kh2 Rb5 66.Kg2 Rb3 67.Kg1 Rb2 68.Kh1 Ke1 69.Re8 Rxb7 70.Rxe3+ Kf2 71.Ra3 Rb2 72.Kh2 Re2 73.Rb3 Re3 74.Rb4 h4 75.Rf4+ Rf3 76.Rxg4 hxg3+ 77.Kh3 Re3 78.Rg8 Rd3 79.Rg7 Rf3 80.Rg4 Rf8 81.Rf4+ Rxf4 ½-½

White to move. Capturing on g4 loses to ...hxg3+ and Rf3: zugzwang! White has to include an intermediate check on f4. Then he keeps the rook on the g-file, reserving the g4-square for the Black’s rook being on f3. As soon as Black moves his rook along the f-file, there is a saving Rf4+, stalemating. So, Novikov was literally on the ropes!

Still, even after passing the Jakovenko-test, Novikov’s position on top of the table is strongly challenged. Everybody considers him a fish; maybe not as innocent as before, but still quite eatable. Such lack of respect may play into his hands, but fighting in every single game is surely tiring. Strong players like Akopian, Jakovenko, Alekseev, Almasi, Sutovsky and Sadvakasov are nearby at +3 or +2. Each of them can come out of the ambush. Aeroflot Opens are won by a winning streak at the finish.


The Ostankino TV Tower, 540 m high, dominates the skyline of the city


Missing an easy win against Ehlvest made it a disappointing tournament for Arkady Naiditsch


Even very strong GMs can get stuck on lower boards – like Alexander Moiseenko


A tough event for 15-year-old Indian GM Parimarjan Negi


Three times German champion Thomas Luther


A young kibitzer rooting for the not much older Ian Nepomniachtchi


The world's greatest trainers: Mark Dvoretsky, Artur Jussupow and Lev Psakhis


The Pepsi generation: Valya Gunina (18) and Liza Chetina (9), who are playing in the B and C tournaments


The Aeroflot B tournament is the best training ground for young ones


The Indian corner of the skittles room


Negotiations between Emil Sutovsky and Alexander Khalifman


The top rated pair of Round seven, Vladimir Akopian and Dmitry Jakovenko

Quick update Round 7:

Evgeny Alekseev just won his game against Stanislav Novikov. The game was not relayed due to technical problem with the board. Novikov played an obscure line, which was not unfamiliar for Alekseev, who had prepared it seven years ago for a game against IM Yeliseev. The Russian champion developed a winning attack and defeated the opponent in less than three hours. Here is the full notation:

Evgeny Alekseev-Stanislav Novikov
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. h3 d5 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. e5 Ne4 7. Nxe4 dxe4 8. Ng5 c5 9. Bc4 0-0 10. c3 cxd4 11. cxd4 Nc6 12. Be3 b5 13. Bb3 Bb7 14. h4 Qa5+ 15. Kf1 h5 16. g4 Rad8 17. gxh5 Nxe5 18. hxg6 Nf3 19. Nxf7 Rxf7 20. Bxf7+ Kf8 21. h5 b4 22. h6 Ba6+ 23. Kg2 Bf6 24. h7 Kg7 25. d5 Qc7 26. h8=Q+ Rxh8 27. Rxh8 Kxh8 28. Qh1+ Nh4+ 29. Qxh4+ Bxh4 30. Bd4+ Bf6 31. Bxf6+ exf6 32. Rh1+ Kg7 33. Rh7+ Kf8 34. g7+ Black resigns.

P.S. I asked several players their opinion on the Topalov controversy. It is hardly surprising that the answers were extremely varied. The videotape along with the Suddeutsche Zeitung article have caused suspicion to grow in about 35% of the players, while the others were left unimpressed. Notably, younger players tend to suspect unfair play more frequently. Almost none of the experienced grandmasters supported the conspiracy theory. Or maybe they are simply more cautious?

My own opinion is that generally rumors are supported by reputation. It is not enough to sweep supertournaments – you also have to have poor reputation. Silvio Danailov knows perfectly well that he is Mr. Evil in the eyes of many chess fans, and behaves accordingly. This produces more attention for his protégé, but also more suspicion, and this is the price that has to be paid.

Top ranking after round eight

No. Player Elo Fed Pts TPR
1 GM Jakovenko, Dmitry 2691 RUS 6.0 2792
2 GM Alekseev, Evgeny 2661 RUS 6.0 2795
3 GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2624 RUS 6.0 2777
4 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2658 ARM 5.5 2721
5 GM Jobava, Baadur 2650 GEO 5.5 2730
6 GM Wang, Yue 2644 CHN 5.5 2722
7 GM Ni, Hua 2632 CHN 5.5 2700
8 GM Sutovsky, Emil 2629 ISR 5.5 2703
9 GM Minasian, Artashes 2595 ARM 5.5 2755
10 GM Novikov, Stanislav 2535 RUS 5.5 2772
11 GM Akopian, Vladimir 2700 ARM 5.0 2692
12 GM Almasi, Zoltan 2669 HUN 5.0 2692
13 GM Areshchenko, Alexander 2644 UKR 5.0 2682
14 GM Volkov, Sergey 2636 RUS 5.0 2631
15 GM Asrian, Karen 2634 ARM 5.0 2656
16 GM Riazantsev, Alexander 2629 RUS 5.0 2656
17 GM Khalifman, Alexander 2619 RUS 5.0 2674
18 GM Wang, Hao 2619 CHN 5.0 2638
19 GM Balogh, Csaba 2616 HUN 5.0 2675
20 GM Efimenko, Zahar 2616 UKR 5.0 2653
21 GM Sadvakasov, Darmen 2615 KAZ 5.0 2687
22 GM Laznicka, Viktor 2593 CZE 5.0 2708
23 GM Predojevic, Borki 2587 BIH 5.0 2726
24 GM Zhou, Jianchao 2551 CHN 5.0 2722
25 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco 2679 ESP 4.5 2600
26 GM Timofeev, Artyom 2663 RUS 4.5 2628
27 GM Smirin, Ilia 2654 ISR 4.5 2621
28 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2637 SVK 4.5 2626
29 GM Korotylev, Alexey 2615 RUS 4.5 2610
30 GM Bocharov, Dmitry 2602 RUS 4.5 2664
31 GM Jussupow, Artur 2599 GER 4.5 2649
32 GM Grigoriants, Sergey 2592 RUS 4.5 2599
33 GM Khairullin, Ildar 2586 RUS 4.5 2619
34 IM Lysyj, Igor 2576 RUS 4.5 2689

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