Aeroflot Open 2016 – round one in Moscow

by Sagar Shah
3/2/2016 – With an average rating of 2585, the Aeroflot Open 2016 is one of the strongest open tournaments in the world. World Championship finalist Boris Gelfand is the top seed in the A group. In the first round itself we had some highly interesting battles and mini-upsets. Our reporters Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal are in Moscow and bring you not only the chess moments but also some nice pictorial impressions from the event.

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AEROFLOT OPEN 2016 – round one

Report from Moscow by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal

The word “upset” is usually associated with the first round of any open event. Lower rated players are paired against the top seeds and a few of them are always able to snatch half or a full point from the favourites. For example, at the Qatar Masters Nino Batsiashvili was able to hold Magnus Carlsen to a draw, and at the Gibraltar Masters Vishy Anand drew his game against Szidonia Vajda. But using the word upset at the Aeroflot Open would be a complete misnomer. The reason: in the first round itself strong grandmasters were paired against each other in the A group tournament. The Chinese sensation Wei Yi (2714) lost his first game to the Vladimir Potkin (2585). But as we all know, Potkin is an experienced campaigner who has many feathers on his cap, the most notable one being the 2011 European Champion. And hence I will refrain from the usage of the term and instead call it a mini-upset! There were many such mini-upsets on the first day of the Aeroflot Open 2016. But, before we come to that, let me introduce this tournament to you.

The 13th edition of the Aeroflot Open 2016 is being held in Moscow, Russia from the 29th of February to 10th of March 2016. The official hotel of the event is Cosmos and the playing venue is also located at the same place. There are three tournaments that are simultaneously taking place:

  • The A Group (2550 and above) which has 83 players. Out of them 67 are grandmasters and the average rating of the tournament is 2585. This is higher than the Qatar Masters which had a rating average of 2529 (although in Doha the rating cut-off was 2300). The top seed of the tournament is Boris Gelfand with an Elo of 2735. Other star attractions are Bu Xiangzhi, Wei Yi and Ian Nepomniachtchi. They will fight for the first place of €18,000. Round begins at 3 p.m. every day and the time control is 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.

  • The B Group (2300 and above) has attracted the most entries – 94. With the participation of 16 grandmasters and 40 International Masters this event has a pretty decent rating average of 2390. The first prize is €8,000. Round begins at 3 p.m. and the time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from the first.

  • 63 players participate in the C Group (below 2300). There are players right from the rating of 2296 down to unrated players. €3,000 is the first prize. Rounds begin every day at 3 p.m. and the time control is 90 minutes for the whole game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from the first. The participants must keep the record of moves till the end of the game.

Your reporters Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal pose for a selfie before catching the Mumbai-Delhi-Moscow flight

As the Aeroflot Airbus was landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow we could already start feeling the chill!

Snow and a temperature of -1 degree Celsius greeted us in the Russian capital city!

As there is only one direct flight from Delhi to Moscow almost all of the Indian players reached Moscow at the same time. The organizers were efficient and arranged transportation from the airport to the Cosmos Hotel where the tournament was going to be held.

The majestic lobby of the hotel – With so many people arriving at the same time ...

... naturally a crowd gathered at the reception of the Cosmos Hotel

While I was at the reception trying to get my room number, I turned and saw Boris Gelfand standing right behind me. I immediately let him take my place. He thanked me for this gesture and we spoke about his recent book Positional Decision Making in Chess which he has written for Quality Chess. Boris said that his next book, which would be the second part of the series, would be on dynamic chess and his work was ongoing with Jacob Aagaard. We can expect the book to release later this year. A thorough gentleman that he is, Gelfand wished me the best for my tournament and left with a warm handshake. Amruta who watched all of this at a close distance, quite mesmerized by Boris’ humility, forgot to take the top seed’s picture. She ran after him to get the job done.

Boris Gelfand at the lobby of the Cosmos Hotel. This is how Amruta recounts her experience, “I ran after Boris, not wanting to miss taking his picture. After I caught up with him, I asked him whether I could take his photo for the ChessBase report. “Of course!” was his reply. Not only did he put his bag aside and adjusted his coat but also gave me a nice smile for the photograph. That, my dear friends, is called modesty!”

The rooms are basic, yet quite comfortable…

…and the view is spectacular

The opening ceremony took place on the 29th of February at 9 p.m. It was a short affair with the main intention of determining the colour of the pieces for the top seed.

Top three Russians at the opening ceremony – Ernesto Inarkiev, Alexander Motylev and Evgeniy Najer

The man who has worked tirelessly since past 14 years to make Aeroflot Open a success – Alexander Bakh

Chief Arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz gets ready for ten days of action packed chess

We recently reported on how the 12-year-old Alireza Firouzja became the Iranian National Champion. For all those out there wondering on how this lad achieved such a huge success at this age, one reason could be his coach Evgeny Miroshnichenko.

The playing hall is spacious and well lit. Readers with a sharp eye will have noticed a legend of our game walking on the left side of the picture. If you are able to recognize him do let us know his name in the comments section below.

Boris Gelfand got off to a slow start as he drew his first round
game against Artyom Timofeev (2594) with the black pieces

Second seeded Bu Xiangzhi was also held to a draw by Bartosz Socko

Third seed Wei Yi suffered a defeat at the hands of Vladimir Potkin.
Let’s have a look at this interesting game

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.01"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Potkin, Vladimir"] [Black "Wei, Yi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [WhiteElo "2585"] [BlackElo "2714"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2016.03.01"] 1. c4 g6 2. e4 e5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nf3 exd4 5. e5 Ne4 6. Qxd4 Bb4+ {Up until this point we have seen many top level encounters. Mainly White opted for the move Nbd2 in this position, but Potkin wants to show that the knight on e4 is not so well placed and hence refrains from exchanging it.} 7. Kd1 $5 {Although this looks like a crazy move, it is not a novelty as it has been played before in the game between Tamir Nabaty and Alexander Fier in 2015.} f5 8. exf6 Nxf6 9. Qh4 (9. Bh6 {was played by Nabaty.}) 9... d5 $1 {With the king on d1, opening the position is of course the right decision.} 10. Bg5 Be7 (10... O-O { was also possible.}) 11. cxd5 Nxd5 (11... Qxd5+ 12. Kc1 {Followed by Nc3 gives White free flowing development and the king is quite safe on c1.}) 12. Bc4 $1 { The king is right opposite the black queen, and Black can choose how he would like to give a discovered check. But there is just no good way to take advantage of this fact.} Nc6 (12... Nb6+ 13. Kc1 Nxc4 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Re1 $16 ) 13. Bxd5 $6 {White goes wrong.} (13. Nbd2 $1 $16) 13... Be6 $6 {Just shows how difficult it is to be accurate in chess.} (13... Qxd5+ 14. Kc1 Qc5+ 15. Nc3 O-O $17 {Would have given Black a clear edge.}) 14. Bxe7 Nxe7 15. Re1 $1 Bxd5 16. Kc2 Qd7 17. Nc3 Qf5+ $6 (17... Bxf3 18. gxf3 Qf5+ 19. Re4 g5 20. Qh5+ Kf8 21. h4 $16 {is also clearly in White's favour.}) 18. Kc1 O-O-O 19. Rxe7 { Wei Yi must have hoped to get some counterplay going here, but unfortunately he is just lost.} Bxf3 20. gxf3 Qxf3 21. Qg3 $1 {The mate on c7 repels Black's attack.} Qc6 22. Kc2 {The rest is just agony.} Rd6 23. Rae1 Rhd8 24. R1e2 a5 25. Qe5 {A very interesting and unbalanced game and some very interesting opening preparation shown by Potkin.} 1-0

Ian Nepomniachtchi also couldn’t win his game as he drew against Anton Demchenko

World Championship Candidate and five-time US Championship winner Gata Kamsky is the
eleventh seed at the event. He started his campaign with a draw against GM Lalith Babu.

It is not often that you see Baadur Jobava on the receiving end of a brilliancy. But that is exactly
what happened as the Georgian GM slumped to a defeat against Aleksey Goganov.

Goganov – Jobava

Jobava has just taken the pawn on f2 uncovering an attack against the e6 rook.
What is it that he had missed?

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.01"] [Round "1.9"] [White "Goganov, Aleksey"] [Black "Jobava, Baadur"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2575"] [BlackElo "2676"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r6k/1pp3pp/2nbR3/p4r2/2P1B1q1/PPB1Q1P1/5P2/R5K1 b - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2016.03.01"] 27... Rxf2 {[%cal Gf5f2] Baadur was looking to meet Kxf2 with Qxe6. Although even that position looks better for Black, what Goganov played was just aesthetically so much more pleasing.} 28. Rg6 $3 {Isn't this a beautiful move?!!} Qh3 (28... hxg6 29. Qh6+ Kg8 30. Qxg7#) 29. Bxg7+ Kg8 30. Bd5+ Rf7 31. Rg5 Be7 32. Bxf7+ Kxf7 33. Rf1+ {Quite a crushing victory for Goganov.} 1-0

Khalifman – Yuffa

Alexander Khalifman with the white pieces has a winning endgame. All that he has to do is bring his king to the queenside and then pick up the b5 pawn. But what is wrong with 42.Rxb5 straight away, you may ask. Khalifman played exactly that and fell for a neat trap. I am sure you saw what that was!

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.01"] [Round "1.28"] [White "Khalifman, Alexander"] [Black "Yuffa, Daniil"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E97"] [WhiteElo "2624"] [BlackElo "2502"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/2r5/6pk/1p2R1p1/1P4P1/4K2P/5P2/8 w - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2016.03.01"] 42. Rxb5 $2 {Impatience is often the root cause for all the misery! Khalifman misses the cute little trick that Yuffa had prepared.} (42. Kd3 Rb7 43. Kd4 Rc7 44. Rxb5 Rb7 45. Kc5 $18 {wins easily.}) 42... Rb7 $1 {Stalemate is the theme!} 43. Rxb7 {Khalifman was so dejected that he didn't even try playing the 3 vs 2 endgame. Of course that is easily drawn. Instead he chooses to stalemate his opponent.} 1/2-1/2

Chinese IM Shen Yang lost her round one game to Boris Savchenko

The highly talented Russian Aleksandra Goryachkina began with a draw against Sasikiran Krishnan

Results of Round one

Bo. No. Ti. Name Rtg
Ti. Name Rtg No.
1 44 GM Timofeev Artyom 2593
GM Gelfand Boris 2735 1
2 2 GM Bu Xiangzhi 2724
GM Socko Bartosz 2587 45
3 46 GM Potkin Vladimir 2585
GM Wei Yi 2714 3
4 4 GM Korobov Anton 2713
GM Kunin Vitaly 2584 47
5 48 GM Demchenko Anton 2583
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2704 5
6 6 GM Matlakov Maxim 2682
GM Wagner Dennis 2583 49
7 50 GM Kulaots Kaido 2578
GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2677 7
8 8 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2677
GM Sandipan Chanda 2577 51
9 52 GM Goganov Aleksey 2575
GM Jobava Baadur 2676 9
10 10 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2674
GM Antipov Mikhail Al. 2573 53
11 54 GM Lalith Babu M R 2573
GM Kamsky Gata 2673 11
12 12 GM Moiseenko Alexander 2668
GM Oparin Grigoriy 2572 55
13 56 GM Kovalev Vladislav 2560
GM Sjugirov Sanan 2667 13
14 14 GM Swiercz Dariusz 2665
GM Maiorov Nikita 2558 57
15 58 GM Bindrich Falko 2557
GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2664 15
16 16 GM Najer Evgeniy 2664
GM Van Foreest Jorden 2557 59
17 60 GM Alekseenko Kirill 2554
GM Safarli Eltaj 2663 17
18 18 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim 2662
GM Sivuk Vitaly 2554 61
19 62 GM Pichot Alan 2542
GM Motylev Alexander 2655 19
20 20 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr 2650
GM Kotronias Vasilios 2541 63
21 64 GM Shyam Sundar M. 2523
GM Anton Guijarro David 2641 21
22 22 GM Grachev Boris 2639
Xu Yinglun 2518 65
23 66 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2509
GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2637 23
24 24 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2636
Predke Alexandr 2508 67
25 68 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2506
GM Dubov Daniil 2634 25
26 26 GM Kobalia Mikhail 2632
IM Pourramezanali Amirreza 2506 69
27 70 GM Gasanov Eldar 2503
GM Bartel Mateusz 2625 27
28 28 GM Khalifman Alexander 2624
IM Yuffa Daniil 2502 71
29 72 WGM Lei Tingjie 2495
GM Khismatullin Denis 2621 29
30 30 GM Lu Shanglei 2620
Firouzja Alireza 2475 73
31 74 GM Debashis Das 2471
GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2615 31
32 32 GM Bok Benjamin 2611
IM Swayams Mishra 2470 75
33 76 FM Igonin Temur 2470
GM Cordova Emilio 2610 33
34 34 GM Savchenko Boris 2610
IM Shen Yang 2466 77
35 78 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2462
GM Bachmann Axel 2609 35
36 36 GM Wen Yang 2609
IM Korchmar Vasiliy 2450 79
37 80 IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin 2449
GM Jumabayev Rinat 2607 37
38 38 GM Petrosian Tigran L. 2607
IM Wang Yiye 2445 81
39 82 FM Esipenko Andrey 2445
GM Bluebaum Matthias 2605 39
40 40 GM Eliseev Urii 2601
IM Sarana Alexey 2433 83
41 84 IM Martirosyan Haik M. 2425
GM Azarov Sergei 2599 41
42 42 GM Bocharov Dmitry 2595
IM Karavade Eesha 2395 85
43 86 CM Erigaisi Arjun 2379
GM Dragun Kamil 2594 43

Angel Arribas Lopez (2543) is the top seed in the B Group

Chess can be a dangerous sport, especially when played in the flu-ridden winter season

Pictures by Amruta Mokal


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

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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