14-year-old Aydin Suleymanli stuns by winning Aeroflot Open

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/28/2020 – Current under-14 world champion Aydin Suleymanli was declared winner of the strong Aeroflot Open after getting the best tiebreak score among four players tied atop the standings on 6½ out of 9. Second place went to Rinat Jumabayev, who defeated Alexander Shimanov on Thursday, while former sole leader Rauf Mamedov got the bronze medal. The last player to end on 6½ was Aravindh Chithambaram, who got the better of Sanan Sjugirov in the final round. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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Four-way tie on top

A three-game winning streak from rounds six to eight and a final draw against Rauf Mamedov were enough for IM Aydin Suleymanli to get first place at the yearly Aeroflot Open. The youngster from Baku arrived in Moscow as the 71st seed with a 2474 rating. During his run to get the title he exclusively faced 2600+ rated grandmasters. Scoring 6½ points along the way resulted in a 38.1 rating points gain.

Suleymanli played his final round game against Rauf Mamedov, who had been the sole leader of the event starting in round six until the penultimate day of action. The younger Azerbaijani used the Caro-Kann Defence with Black and a draw was signed after 29 moves. Mamedov had the initiative, but his opponent's pair of bishops and solid setup meant it was not wise for the experienced grandmaster to go all-in given the tournament situation.

Eight players had got to the final day a half point behind the co-leaders, and two of them managed to catch up with clutch wins on Thursday. Aravindh Chithambaram from India beat Sanan Sjugirov with the white pieces, while Rinat Jumabayev from Kazakhstan got the better of Alexander Shimanov with Black in a bad day for the Russians still in the fight for first place.

So with four players tied on 6½ points, tiebreak criteria decided the winner. The first tie-breaker was the number of games with Black, with Suleymanli and Jumabayev both having played five times with the black pieces. The second criterion was the average of opponents' ratings, discarding the highest and lowest-rated from the mix. This resulted in the following prize distribution: Suleymanli (1st, €13,875), Jumabayev (2nd, €9,875), Mamedov (3rd, €8,375) and Aravindh (4th, €6,875).

Rauf Mamedov

Rauf Mamedov was visibly happy when he saw his young compatriot getting the title — and he nonetheless had a remarkable performance | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

Suleymanli's strength was perhaps best portrayed in his round-eight win over former world junior champion Parham Maghsoodloo. The game featured a series of topical strategic themes and showcased the 14-year-old's calculation ability. Sagar Shah looked into the game deeply (see video below), but before you check out his analysis we will include a couple of positions for you to try your hand at:


Notice that Black is two pawns down, although White's lack of development on the kingside gives the former more than enough compensation. How should Black proceed?


This is more of a simple tactical "Black to play and win" problem. Maghsoodloo tried his last trick with 23.c2 — how should Black finish his opponent off? 

Check out the full 20-minute analysis by Sagar Shah:

Second-placed Rinat Jumabayev also showed great positional understanding in his final round victory over Shimanov. Jumabayev, the number one player from Kazakhstan, faced the London System and correctly assessed he could compromise his pawn structure in exchange for activity:


Black went for 18...xe4 19.xe4+ dxe4 20.e1 f5, when he has an active king and a better minor piece in the long run. Jumabayev later gave up a pawn, but he got to activate his rooks and strongly place his knight and king tandem on dark squares, away from any threats from White's bishop. When the time control was reached, Shimanov decided it was necessary to get rid of the knight:


After thinking for almost a half hour, Shimanov played 41.xc5, giving up an exchange. However, he soon realized there were not enough defensive resources to get a draw.


Aeroflot Chess Open 2020

The playing hall at the Cosmos Hotel | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

Aravindh's win with White over Sjugirov was also of a strategical nature. The Indian national champion got a major space advantage in a closed position, which meant Black's bishop pair had very little scope to manoeuvre. When the queens left the board, Aravindh only needed to show good technique to convert his well-earned positional edge:


White had just challenged Black's knight with 34.fe5. Sjugirov captured with 34...xe5 and Aravindh immediately forced the queen swap with 35.c5+. There followed 35...xc5 36. dxc5+ c7 37.fxe5 d8 38.f3 e8 39.f6+ xf6 40.exf6:


Aravindh controls the h-file and has a large space advantage on the kingside, where he also controls the dark squares. It was another case of a light-squared bishop (in this case Black's) unable to do much against his opponent's threats. Sjugirov accepted defeat on move 48.


Aravindh Chithambaram

20-year-old Aravindh Chithambaram | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

During his ascent to the top of the standings table, Aravindh defeated his young compatriot Bharath Subramaniyam, the 12-year-old who was actually sharing the lead with Mamedov after four rounds! Nevertheless, the kid got his first grandmaster norm in Moscow, and he did so with one round to spare. Bharath even went on to defeat Maksim Chigaev in the final round, thus collecting 5½ points in the tournament — the 96th seed (in a tournament with 97 players) finished in 11th place!

Bharath recently was part of the training camp for Indian talents with Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. After seeing his strong result in Moscow, Gelfand declared:

I am very glad to congratulate Bharath with his well deserved achievement! During the camp he impressed me with his dedication and work ethic. The goal of our camp was long-term, but it is pleasant to watch an immediate result! It is precious that he made a norm in one of the strongest open tournaments in the calendar. His opponents were all of high level and I am sure it would give Bharath more confidence and inspiration to continue working hard on chess.

Bharath Subramaniyam, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand

Bharath posing with Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand | Photo: Amruta Mokhal

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Suleymanli Aydin 6,5 5
2 Jumabayev Rinat 6,5 5
3 Mamedov Rauf 6,5 4
4 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 6,5 4
5 Aleksandrov Aleksej 6,0 5
6 Asadli Vugar 6,0 5
7 Adhiban B. 6,0 5
8 Petrosyan Manuel 6,0 4
9 Yilmaz Mustafa 6,0 4
10 Paravyan David 6,0 4
11 Bharath Subramaniyam H 5,5 5
12 Sjugirov Sanan 5,5 5
13 Idani Pouya 5,5 5
14 Antipov Mikhail Al. 5,5 5
15 Praggnanandhaa R 5,5 5
16 Kobalia Mikhail 5,5 5
17 Sethuraman S.P. 5,5 4
18 Sadhwani Raunak 5,5 4
19 Rakhmanov Aleksandr 5,5 4
20 Sargissian Gabriel 5,5 4
21 Riazantsev Alexander 5,5 4
22 Kovalev Vladislav 5,5 4
23 Smirin Ilia 5,5 4
  Shimanov Aleksandr 5,5 4
25 Erigaisi Arjun 5,5 4

...97 players

Games from Round 9


All games available at Live.ChessBase.com


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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