Aeroflot Round 4: A third co-leader emerges

by Aditya Pai
2/24/2018 – The tournament has almost reached halfway stage at the Aeroflot Open. However, none of the 2700s are among the tournament leaders. The lead currently rests in the hands of Bologan, Petrosian and Artemiev. Meanwhile, the bottom-most seed of the tournament, IM Eesha Karavade brought down GM Rinat Jumabayev and is now tied for second. With five more rounds to go, it will be interesting to watch the top seeds fight their way to the top.

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Artemiev joins Bologan and Petrosian

Round four of the Aeroflot Open saw a clash between the tournament leaders Victor Bologan and Tigran Petrosian L. Since both players had won all of their previous games, this was sure to be an exciting matchup. Had either player won, the tournament would have seen its first sole leader.  The game was a long fight that lasted seven hours and a hundred moves but neither player was able to outfox the other.

Victor Bologan tried hard to scrape out a win but had to settle for a draw, in the end | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The two opened with a rather innocuous looking Four Knights Defence and the game soon began to look sluggish. By the 31st move, the players reached an endgame where both sides had a rook and bishops of opposite colour. But despite the drawish nature of the position, Bologan tried hard to pull something out of the position. He did win a pawn in the next few moves but that was as far as he could get. Rooks were traded soon afterwards and his extra pawn hardly held any significance. Nevertheless, Bologan kept trying for another 47 moves before signing peace.


With the bout between the leaders drawn, Artemiev got his chance to catch up by winning his game | Photo: Niklesh Jain

This draw meant that Vladislav Artemiev, who had won his game against Mikhail Antipov earlier in the round, had joined Bologan and Petrosian in the lead. Antipov against Artemiev started off tons of trades in a Slav Defence. Antipov erred quite early in the game and was worse for the most part. By the 30th move, queens were traded and Artemiev’s two extra pawns began to tell. It didn’t take long for Artemiev to wrap things up.


Top seeds fumble 

We had mentioned in our previous article that the Aeroflot Open is a little different than the regular open tournaments as there aren't any "weaker" players here.

The second seed of the tournament, Vidit Gujrathi, was unable to break his drawing streak in the fourth round as well. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Playing with black against GM Xu Yinglun, the Nashik lad was able to equalize with ease in a Gruenfeld Defence but that was all he could do. After a mass trade of pieces in the middle game, Xu found a neat temporary exchange sacrifice on the 26th turn that would have left both players with rooks and bishops of opposite colour and more pawn trades in the forthcoming moves. Players agreed to sign the truce at this point.


GM Murali Karthikeyan scored a big upset beating the fourth-seeded Rauf Mamedov | Photo: Niklesh Jain

In round four, GM Murali Karthikeyan scored his third win of the tournament and this time, it was against the fourth-seeded Rauf Mamedov. This game also kicked off with a Sicilian Rossolimo and featured a blunder by the higher rated player towards the end of the first time control.

Karthikeyan sacrificed a pawn early in the game due to which Mamedov got a strong central passer. But Mamedov also fumbled and the position had turned equal again when the Azeri GM gave up an exchange to thrust his passer towards the queening square. This turned out to be a fatal error as Karthikeyan was able to block the pawn easily and hack it off the board. The game went on for around twenty more moves when Mamedov’s knight was trapped in a rather funny manner on the edge of the board.


Bottom-most seed shines bright

Despite being the bottom-most seed in the tournament, Eesha Karvade took on some world-class grandmasters in the first three rounds and scored 2.0/3. Round four pitted Eesha against another GM rated above 2600, Rinat Jumabayev. And yet again, she overcame a rating difference of more than 200 points and emerged victorious.

IM Eesha Karavade was a bit uncomfortable with her position out of the opening but managed to bring down a 2600+ GM nevertheless! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

With the white pieces, Eesha essayed a rare sideline in the Sicilian Defence which eventually transposed into the Rossolimo variation. As per her post-game interview, she had no clue what her opponent might open with and, therefore, deploying a sideline seemed to be the way to go. Quite early in the game, Eesha was forced to give up the right to castle but she had compensation in her opponent’s isolated doubled pawns.  

The complex middle game that was reached made both players shed a significant amount of time off their clocks and were in severe time trouble. Jumabayev was in total control of the position for the most part of the middle game but on the last move of the time control, an unfortunate blunder by the Kazakh GM lost him a full piece. He limped on for nine move moves desperately trying to create complications but the Indian IM held her nerves well and forced an exchange of queens to put an end to all tricks. With this win, Eesha has put herself in the joint second spot on the leaderboard.

Eesha Karvade in an interview with Niklesh Jain | ChessBase India Youtube


Andreikin's marvellous first win

Dmitry Andreikin, who is the third seed at the tournament, had been unable to win a game in his first three tries at the Aeroflot Open 2018. But when he did win, he won in style.

After scoring three draws in three games, Dmitry Andreikin came back with a splendid win in round 4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Playing from the white side of a Queen's Indian Defence, Andreikin seized the initiative early in the game after his opponent, Maksim Chigaev, made mistakes in the opening. Soon, Andreikin had gained space on all parts of the board and launched an attack on the black monarch. Trying to keep his king safe, Chigaev ran with his king to the other side of the board, but to no avail. On the 40th turn, Andreikin forced resignation with a quiet queen move that threatened an unavertable checkmate.

A quick chat with Dmitry Andreikin | ChessBase India Youtube


Standings after Round 4 (top 25) 

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Artemiev Vladislav 4,5 2
2 Petrosian Tigran L. 4,0 2
3 Lysyj Igor 4,0 2
4 Kovalev Vladislav 4,0 2
5 Karthikeyan Murali 3,5 3
6 Fedoseev Vladimir 3,5 3
7 Bologan Victor 3,5 3
8 Gordievsky Dmitry 3,5 3
9 Alekseenko Kirill 3,5 3
10 Khalifman Alexander 3,5 2
11 Matlakov Maxim 3,5 2
12 Korobov Anton 3,5 2
13 Sargissian Gabriel 3,5 2
14 Tabatabaei M.Amin 3,5 2
15 Xu Xiangyu 3,0 3
16 Maghsoodloo Parham 3,0 3
17 Karavade Eesha 3,0 3
18 Yakubboev Nodirbek 3,0 3
19 Andreikin Dmitry 3,0 3
20 Sethuraman S.P. 3,0 3
21 Kamsky Gata 3,0 3
  Piorun Kacper 3,0 3
23 Inarkiev Ernesto 3,0 3
24 Sasikiran Krishnan 3,0 3
25 Aryan Chopra 3,0 2


Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.


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