Aeroflot Open: Bologan's masterpiece

by Niklesh Kumar Jain
2/23/2018 – The A group of Aeroflot Open is one of the most keenly contested open tournaments out there. There are 32 GMs above the rating of 2600 and all of them are vying for the top spot which not only earns them a hefty prize fund, but also a chance to play in the Dortmund super tournament. After three rounds we have only two players on 100% score Viktor Bologan and Tigran Petrosian. Bologan's victory over Korobov was a beautiful game and it is analyzed in great depth in this report. ChessBase India's Niklesh Jain brings you all the updates from Hotel Cosmos in Moscow.

King's Indian: A modern approach King's Indian: A modern approach

Bologan: "If you study this DVD carefully and solve the interactive exercises you will also enrich your chess vocabulary, your King's Indian vocabulary, build up confidence in the King's Indian and your chess and win more games."


Bologan and Petrosian lead with 3.0/3

There is definitely some connection between Aeroflot and Viktor Bologan. The Moldovian grandmaster came into the limelight thanks to the Aeroflot Open 2003. Bologan not only won it and qualified for the Dortmund super tournament, but he also won the Dortmund super-tournament ahead of Kramnik, Anand, Radjabov, Leko and Naiditsch!

Bologan fighting it out in the last round of Aeroflot 2003, beating GM Julio Granda Zuniga to win the tournament! | Photo: Eugeny Atarov

Celebrating his win with his wife Rita | Photo: Eugeny Atarov

It's been 15 years now since the 2003 event, the black t-shirt has been replaced by a suit and formal wear, the clean shave has been replaced by a french beard, and youthful Bologan by a man with great experience. Yet, it seems nothing has changed, Bologan still continues to play sublime chess at the Aeroflot Open. 

That's Bologan in 2018, on his way to victory against GM Anton Korobov | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The opening was played quite poorly by Victor. He was pushed back from all ends and White (Korobov) was completely dominating.


The simple 0-0 would have given White a very good position here.


Korobov's choice of h2-h4 was just not in the spirit of the position. Can you find a way in which you would punish this recklessness

Bologan found the very strong plan starting with 17...Nb8! pushing the queen back to a4 and now ...a5! If White is forced to cede the c5 square that would be excellent news for Black. And hence Korobov played a3, seeing the rook on a8 was hanging and hence ...axb4 was not possible. But Bologan made sure that he went for this line sacrificing an exchange as after 20.Qxa8 bxc3 21.Bxc3 Nc5! the knight on c5 gets an excellent square, the king on e1 is not so comfortable and the queen on a8 is clearly misplaced.


This complete change of the flow of the game caught Korobov by surprise and he was unable to put up his best resistance. Bologan won the game with some nice finishing strokes. Here's the entire game annotated by IM Sagar Shah:

Korobov vs Bologan (annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

Will Bologan repeat his success of 2003? Perhaps it is too early in the tournament to think about this, but it is surely possible! That's Victor from 2003, enjoying his success | Photo: Eugeny Atarov

This video gives you a feel of the third round of the event

Tigran Petrosian beat GM S.P. Sethuraman in the third round and now leads with 3.0/3. He, along with Bologan, are the only two players on 100% score. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Top seed Vladimir Fedoseev finally got into his groove and scored his first win of the event against GM Arman Mikaelyan

Second-seeded Vidit Gujrathi is still searching for the elusive victory. He is on 1½ / 3. The problem with these 2700+ players is that if they do not win, they bleed a lot of rating points. Vidit is already losing seven. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

On the top board, the clash between Artemiev and Khalifman ended in a draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Former World Junior Champion Mikhail Antipov was able to get the better of Evgeny Najer | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Parham Maghsoodloo beat Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Nihal Sarin has shown great fighting skills at this event against his esteemed 2600+ opponents and has drawn all his three games. His opponents were Sasikiran, Inarkiev, and Piorun. A great training ground for the young boy. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Eesha Karavade, the last seed of the tournament, is ahead of many seasoned grandmasters! She is on 2.0/3 with draws against Vidit Gujrathi and Wen Yang and win over GM Amin Tabatabaei | Photo: Niklesh Jain

It is almost certain that Praggnanandhaa would not be able to beat Karjakin's record of the youngest GM in the world. Perhaps this will take off the pressure from the young boy's shoulders and he would be able to complete his remaining two GM norms very soon. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Top results of round three

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Artemiev Vladislav 2 ½ - ½ 2 Khalifman Alexander
Korobov Anton 2 0 - 1 2 Bologan Victor
Petrosian Tigran L. 2 1 - 0 2 Sethuraman S.P.
Gupta Abhijeet - - + Matlakov Maxim
Najer Evgeniy 0 - 1 Antipov Mikhail Al.
Maghsoodloo Parham 1 - 0 Sjugirov Sanan
Kovalev Vladislav 1 - 0 Svane Rasmus
Lysyj Igor 1 - 0 Golubov Saveliy
Aryan Chopra ½ - ½ Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.
Jumabayev Rinat ½ - ½ Pavlov Sergey
Wen Yang ½ - ½ Karavade Eesha
Paravyan David ½ - ½ Yakubboev Nodirbek
Mikaelyan Arman 0 - 1 1 Fedoseev Vladimir
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 1 ½ - ½ 1 Petrosyan Manuel
Firouzja Alireza 1 ½ - ½ 1 Andreikin Dmitry
Mamedov Rauf 1 1 - 0 1 Pichot Alan
Vavulin Maksim 1 ½ - ½ 1 Inarkiev Ernesto
Esipenko Andrey 1 ½ - ½ 1 Kamsky Gata
Sargissian Gabriel 1 ½ - ½ 1 Lomasov Semen
Shevchenko Kirill 1 ½ - ½ 1 Sasikiran Krishnan

Standings after three rounds (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Bologan Victor 3,0 2
2 Petrosian Tigran L. 3,0 1
3 Maghsoodloo Parham 2,5 2
4 Khalifman Alexander 2,5 2
5 Antipov Mikhail Al. 2,5 2
6 Artemiev Vladislav 2,5 1
7 Kovalev Vladislav 2,5 1
8 Lysyj Igor 2,5 1
9 Matlakov Maxim 2,5 1
10 Xu Xiangyu 2,0 2
11 Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2,0 2
12 Pavlov Sergey 2,0 2
13 Karavade Eesha 2,0 2
14 Yakubboev Nodirbek 2,0 2
15 Sethuraman S.P. 2,0 2
16 Fedoseev Vladimir 2,0 2
17 Gordievsky Dmitry 2,0 2
18 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2,0 2
19 Karthikeyan Murali 2,0 2
20 Aryan Chopra 2,0 1
21 Xu Yi 2,0 1
22 Korobov Anton 2,0 1
23 Mamedov Rauf 2,0 1
24 Romanov Evgeny 2,0 1
25 Jumabayev Rinat 2,0 1

Top pairings of round four

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Bologan Victor 3   3 Petrosian Tigran L.
Khalifman Alexander   Matlakov Maxim
Antipov Mikhail Al.   Artemiev Vladislav
Maghsoodloo Parham   Kovalev Vladislav
Sethuraman S.P. 2   Lysyj Igor
Fedoseev Vladimir 2   2 Paravyan David
Karthikeyan Murali 2   2 Mamedov Rauf
Xu Xiangyu 2   2 Korobov Anton
Gordievsky Dmitry 2   2 Aryan Chopra
Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2   2 Romanov Evgeny

All round three games



FIDE Instructor Niklesh Kumar Jain Jain is an international chess player who has participated in tournaments in almost in 20 different countries, winning the international tournament in Sri Lanka in 2010. He also worked for a television network as an anchor and news writer for two years and reported in Hindi during World Chess Championship 2013 and 2014.
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