Aeroflot Open 2013: 32 qualifiers and surprises

2/18/2013 – The first stage is over and 32 players passed on to the next phase, though not without a few surprises. Though certainly entertaining, the move to abandon classical chess in favor of rapid chess is not without varied opinions. The sponsor thought the old format "boring" and "miserable", while others already see it as the end of a golden era. Read what some players think.

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The venue is the International informational exhibition centre “InfoProstranstvo” (above) in Moscow, and the total prize fund of all tournaments in the festival amounts to US $150,000. This year's event is especial because it is the 90th anniversary of the leading Russian airline that lends it its name.


  • February 12-13: qualifying rapid tournament, a nine round Swiss played at 15 minutes per game plus 10 seconds per move increment.

  • February 14: massive blitz tournament with eight guest stars (e.g. Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Shahriyar Mammadyarov). Nine round Swiss, three minutes per game plus two seconds increment per move. Prize fund US $50,000.

  • February 15: Knockout tournament with 32 winners of the qualifying rounds. In each round two games are played, at 15 minutes per game plus 10 seconds increment per move. In case of a draw there will be an Armageddon blitz – 5 minutes (White) vs 4 minutes (Black) + 3 seconds increment, which White must win. Eight winners go into the main final. Participants who took places 9-16 get $1,500, places 17-32 get $ 1,000.

  • February 16-17: Grand Final with eight guest stars (Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Shahriyar Mammadyarov) and the eight winners of the qualifying competition. Knock-out system, with two games at 15 minutes per game plus 10 seconds per move and Armageddon tie break. Prize fund $72,000 (1st 16,000, 2nd 10,000, 3-4 $6,000, 5-8 $3,500, 9-16 $2,500).

  • February 17: closing ceremonies (February 18 departure).

Aeroflot Open 2013

The first qualifying stage of the Aeroflot Rapid Open has now ended, and the first 32 qualifiers will now enter the knockout phase on Friday, February 15. They will be fighting to be among the last eight to make it to the Grand Final, where they will be joined by eight guest stars Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin (2012 Russian Champion), Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

The new format has been met with a fair amount of divided opinions. SOme have no issues with it, while others lament the loss of a super classical open, renowned as having the strongest top section in the world. The tournament used to have three Open sections, the top one requiringin a rating of at least 2500 Elo (albeit exceptions were made), and attracted numerous 2700 players willing to fire away at this ultimate of opens. Sadly the sponsors were less enthusiastic, describing it as " boring, miserable and useless".

Players were quoted as saying:

GM Khalifman: "Do the sponsors really understand the difference between 1.5 hours game and 20 minutes game? Well, well..."

GM Alexander Evdokimov: "Aeroflot Open was losing popularity, there were less participants and interest. Pity to lose this tradition, but I'm sure that this [new] format will attract a lot of strong players, who wouldn't participate in it in format of Open..."

GM Andrei Devyatkin disagrees with Alexander Evdokimov: "In the last "A" Open there were seven players, including Caruana and Tomashevsky, with the rating +2700. Where do you see "the loss of popularity and interest"?"

Krasenkov: "Participation in a "casino" like tournament (either you will be lucky and win it or just fail losing time and money) IMHO is humiliating for the professional chess player, it doesn't support creativity. Well, it may be individual though."

Khalifman: "In my view, the fact that in all other Swiss tournaments you should outplay 2-3 (as a minimum) players with the rating 2000-2300 in order to play against a strong player doesn't support creativity at all. That's a boring obligation. You don't have that in Aeroflot and exactly that is why I, maybe not only I, liked it."

GM Sutovsky commented:

"The sad news has arrived from Moscow. The famous Aeroflot Open has died out after a long and serious illness.

A whole generation of top players has grown on this tournament [...] I have participated in it for several times and my performances were mostly successful. I even managed to win this, one of the strongest competitions in the world, in 2005.


Now everything will change. There will be five playing days: rapid and blitz. the participation fee was continually raising in the last few years (actually, quite reasonably). Now 90% of the participants will be Russian, but maybe exaclty that was Russian Chess Federation's plan...

The festival will remain the name, it will be Aeroflot Open - that's a brand after all; and even those who think classical chess dies out understand that.

I still have this feeling that the whole era has passed. Is a new epoch born? I'm harried by doubts..."


Ernesto Inarkiev came in 7th and qualified for the next stage

Rustam Kasimdzhanov was less fortunate however

Top seed Laurent Fressinet, rated 2750 (FIDE Rapid rating), needed a
win in the final round to make the cut but lost and is out. Since the goal is
to qualify, not win, the majority of the last-round games ended in quick draws.

Pavel Eljanov had a good run and finished 6th

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk Name FED Rtg Pts  TB1 
1 GM Kamsky Gata USA 2760 7.0 54.0
2 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2633 7.0 54.0
3 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2651 7.0 53.0
4 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2612 7.0 50.0
5 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2733 6.5 55.5
6 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2678 6.5 54.0
7 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2628 6.5 53.5
8 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2670 6.5 53.0
9 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2686 6.5 52.5
10 GM Kokarev Dmitry RUS 2637 6.5 52.0
11 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2623 6.5 52.0
12 GM Bukavshin Ivan RUS 2551 6.5 52.0
13 GM Ponkratov Pavel RUS 2608 6.5 50.5
14 GM Popov Ivan RUS 2634 6.5 50.5
15 GM Iturrizaga Eduardo VEN 2646 6.5 50.0
16 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2569 6.5 50.0
17 GM Smirnov Pavel RUS 2619 6.5 49.5
18 GM Chadaev Nikolai RUS 2590 6.5 49.5
19 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim RUS 2662 6.5 49.5
20 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2630 6.5 49.0
21 GM Tukhaev Adam UKR 2634 6.5 49.0
22 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2582 6.5 49.0
23 GM Shomoev Anton RUS 2543 6.5 48.0
24 IM Reshetnikov Alexey RUS 2499 6.5 47.5
25 GM Vorobiov Evgeny E. RUS 2568 6.5 47.5
26 GM Frolyanov Dmitry RUS 2591 6.5 47.0
27 GM Kazhgaleyev Murtas KAZ 2586 6.5 46.5
28 GM Maletin Pavel RUS 2585 6.5 46.0
29 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2578 6.5 45.0
30 GM Svetushkin Dmitry MDA 2612 6.5 45.0
31 GM Dlugy Maxim USA 2543 6.5 43.5
32 GM Lintchevski Daniil RUS 2563 6.5 43.5

Click here for the full standings

Here is an entertaining game from round seven:

[Event "Aeroflot Open 2013"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "2013.02.13"] [Round "7.15"] [White "Shomoev, Anton"] [Black "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E94"] [WhiteElo "2557"] [BlackElo "2626"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [TimeControl "900+10"] 1. c4 {6} Nf6 {0} 2. Nc3 {6} g6 {13} 3. e4 {7} d6 {2} 4. d4 {1} Bg7 {12} 5. Nf3 {3} O-O {0} 6. Be2 {0} e5 {0} 7. O-O {5} exd4 {46} 8. Nxd4 {10} Re8 {1} 9. f3 { 0} c6 {2} 10. Kh1 {0} Nh5 {4} 11. g4 {31} Nf6 {2} 12. Bf4 {16} h5 {70} 13. Nf5 $5 {3 A novelty and certainly a challenging one to refute in a rapid game.} gxf5 {69} 14. gxf5 {2} Nbd7 {124} 15. Rg1 {32} Kh8 {107} 16. Qe1 {8} Ne5 $2 { 62 A mistake, but one that even the engines would make in their first seconds, meaning 15-16 plies. That said, even after their recommended ...Rg8, White's initiative is clear.} 17. Qh4 {22} Nh7 {162} 18. Qxh5 {36} Qe7 {10} 19. Rg3 {29 } Nd7 {19} 20. Rag1 {253} Ndf6 {4} 21. Qh4 {2} Nxe4 {[#] 165} 22. Qxh7+ $3 {8 Didn't see that one coming did you?} Kxh7 {1} 23. Rxg7+ {13} Kh8 {1} 24. fxe4 { 0} Bxf5 {3} 25. exf5 {66} Rg8 {2} 26. R7g3 {229} (26. Bg5 {was best, but go try finding that one with minutes left on the clock.}) 26... Rxg3 {51} 27. Rxg3 {1} Rg8 {126} 28. Rh3+ {76} Kg7 {1} 29. Bh6+ {13} Kf6 {0} 30. Re3 {0} Qc7 {1} 31. Bd3 {120} Qb6 {53} 32. Ne4+ {6} Kxf5 {76} 33. Ng3+ {73} Kg4 {7} 34. Bf5+ { 14} Kh4 {7} 35. Re4+ {2} 1-0

Eljanov, Dvoretsky, and Inarkiev chat

The famous trainer, author of the seminal reference work, Dvoretsky's
Endgame Manual
, gives a class on the classics. Endgame classics of course.

His students were rapt with attention

A daughter and mother duo enjoy the presentation


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Topics Aeroflot Open
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