Rauf Mamedov leads Aeroflot Open

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/25/2020 – Rauf Mamedov is alone atop the standings of the annual Aeroflot Open after six rounds. In round five, Mamedov defeated 12-year-old Indian IM Bharath Subramaniyamin, who came from defeating three strong grandmasters in the first four rounds. Sanan Sjugirov, Mustafa Yilmaz and Manuel Petrosyan are sharing second place, half a point behind Mamedov. | Photo: Boris Dolmatovsky

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Yet another Indian prodigy

In the first four rounds of the Aeroflot Open, the young Indian Bharath Subramaniyam caused a sensation with victories over established grandmasters such as Mikhail Antipov, Gabriel Sargissian or Zhou Jianchao. With a 2402 rating, the 12-year-old from Chennai recently got the IM title. Not surprisingly, he was coached by the very successful trainer R.B. Ramesh with the collaboration of WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy. Bharath's trainer said about the youngster:

Bharath is one of the extremely talented players I have worked with as a coach. As a chess player he is very hard working in classes, loves chess a lot, is always willing to make changes in his thinking process, calculates fantastically without too much effort, fights well in tough situations and is very curious to learn and improve. He is very friendly off the board, cracks jokes and makes others laugh. He is also sensitive when others do the same to him! 

The kid arrived in Moscow as the 96th seed and got to play on board one in round five, when the experienced Rauf Mamedov got the better of him to get the sole lead. The three-time national champion from Azerbaijan is a regular fixture at the strong Russian open. Two years ago, he scored 6 out of 9, finishing a point behind winner Vladislav Kovalev, while in this edition he has already collected 5 points with three rounds to go, so this might finally be his year.

Standing a half point behind the Azerbaijani are fourth seed Sanan Sjugirov from Russia, Mustafa Yilmaz from Turkey — who also had a strong showing earlier this year in Gibraltar — and 21-year-old Manuel Petrosyan from Armenia, who already drew Mamedov in round six.

Praggnanandhaa, Bharath Subramaniyamin

Bharath sitting next to Praggnanandhaa on boards 3 and 4 during the fourth round, when the former defeated GM Zhou Jianchao | Photo: Eldar Mukhametov

In the key match-up between Mamedov and Bharath, the player from Baku got the upper hand out of the opening, as he got to leave one of Black's knights out of play on the queenside:


All decisive games that reached this position in the database ended up favouring White. The game continued 13...a5 14.a3+ e8 15.d6+ xd6 16.xd6, and all the positional trumps favour Mamedov — he has the initiative, the bishop pair and it is difficult for his opponent to activate the knight from a5. 

But beating these young kids is never easy. Bharath defended tenaciously, resisting by blocking the position as much as he could. Mamedov, however, found a long knight manoeuvre that allowed him to break open Black's defences:


White made four consecutive knight moves — 29.e3, 30.c2, 31.a1, 32.b3 —to make the most of his positional trumps. Mamedov showed good technique to finally beat the youngster after 49 moves.


Rauf Mamedov

Rauf Mamedov during round three | Photo: Mohammad Kheirkhah

Among the chasers, 27-year-old Sanan Sjugirov made a strong impression with his win over Abhimanyu Puranik in round five. The Russian had the black pieces and, after playing a wild game from start to finish, got to win the game by showing a mating net his opponent had missed when he made his 28th move:


White's 28.b3 was quickly responded by 28...xf1+ and the Indian grandmaster resigned, as there is mate-in-six on the board — 29.♔xf1 ♝h3+ 30.♔g1 ♞d4 31.♘f6+ ♚h8 32.♕a2 (the only move that avoids an immediate mate with the knight) ♞e2+ 33.♕xe2 fxe2 and promoting wins next. In the diagrammed position, 28.h4 or 28.h3 save White.


Sanan Sjugirov

Sanan Sjugirov | Photo: Eldar Mukhametov

Three rounds are still left to go at the demanding open competition. Three players trail Mamedov by a half point while no fewer than sixteen stand a point behind on 4 out of 6. In that group we find some heavy hitters that might end the event with a streak of good results, including Adhiban, Parham Maghsoodloo and recent Gibraltar winner David Paravyan. 

To illustrate how strong this tournament is, we can go down in the standings table and find top seed Vladislav Artemiev in 48th place with 3 points, the same score achieved so far by 2018 winner Vladislav Kovalev.

Gabriel Sargissian

Second seed Gabriel Sargissian from Armenia is on 3½ out of 6 | Photo: Boris Dolmatovsky

Johannes Fischer contributed reporting

Standings after Round 6 (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Mamedov Rauf 5,0 3
2 Sjugirov Sanan 4,5 3
3 Yilmaz Mustafa 4,5 3
4 Petrosyan Manuel 4,5 2
5 Bharath Subramaniyam H 4,0 3
6 Suleymanli Aydin 4,0 3
7 Vaibhav Suri 4,0 3
8 Sarana Alexey 4,0 3
9 Aleksandrov Aleksej 4,0 3
10 Idani Pouya 4,0 3
11 Adhiban B. 4,0 3
12 Maghsoodloo Parham 4,0 3
13 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 4,0 3
14 Paravyan David 4,0 3
15 Jumabayev Rinat 4,0 3
16 Erigaisi Arjun 4,0 3
17 Zhou Jianchao 4,0 3
18 Savchenko Boris 4,0 3
19 Antipov Mikhail Al. 4,0 3
20 Smirin Ilia 4,0 2
21 Visakh N R 3,5 3
22 Nesterov Arseniy 3,5 3
23 Cordova Emilio 3,5 3
24 Murzin Volodar 3,5 3
25 Badelka Olga 3,5 3

...97 players  

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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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