The Aeroflot Chess Festival revisited

3/19/2004 – The Third Aeroflot Festival was held in the second half of February, with over 140 grandmasters. But the flow of information from Moscow was very modest. Spyridon Ilandzis, editor of a Greek chess magazine, took part in the tournament and has sent us an extensive wrap-up with a selection of the most beautiful games.

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Aeroflot Chess Festival wrap-up

A retrospect by Spyridon Ilandzis

The Third Aeroflot Festival was held in Moscow, from February 17 to 26, 2004. Well over 650 participants, amongst them 150 grandmasters, were gathered for this very strong – and massive, too – tournament in the Hotel Rossija, close to the Kremlin. The total prize fund was $150,000, individual prizes ranging from $25,000 for 1st place, $15,000 for 2nd, $10,000 for 3rd, $5,000 for 4th, all the way to $500 for places 31 to 36.


Main organisers were Alexander Bakh and Alexander Roshal (the editor of the Russian chess magazine “64”), along with the Association of Chess Federations and the Committee on Tourism of the Municipality of Moscow. They are shown above with ex world champion Vassily Smyslov in the middle.

203 players (rated 2450+) took part in the A Tournament, with more than 140 GMs overall! We find the first non-GM in Nr. 66 (IM Shaposhnikov Evg., RUS 2573)! 42 players were rated 2600+, while 36 belonged to the top 100 of the Jan. 2004 FIDE rating list. There were also an Aeroflot Open B (for players rated 2200 to 2450) and Aeroflot Open C (for players rated up to 2200)

Apart from the games, and aided by the games schedule (tourneys B and C were played in the morning, roughly from 9:30 am to 1 pm, at the new time-format: 1 hr. and 30 min. for the whole game, with an increment of 30 sec. per move) we participants got the chance to bring out our… touristic side. We strolled around Red Square, took several Metro rides (Moscow’s metro stations are great, with lots of marble, murals, bronze compositions, statuettes, busts, especially the ones dedicated to Ukraine, Byelorussia, Kiev and various writers, playwrights, poets, like Tolstoy, Turgeniev, Pushkin, Chekhov, Mayakovsky) and enjoyed the sights: the magnificent Kremlin buildings, the marvelous churches (Saint Basilius is my favorite), the Gorky and Izmailovo Parks, the Turetskaya Gallery…

The weather was cold and cloudy, with temperatures ranging from 0 to –16 degrees Celsius and occasional snow. Yet, this did not deprive us of the opportunity to see places!


Russian art: an Aeroflot plane crafted from hundreds of balloons dangles from the ceiling of the Rossija Hotel

As for the organisation, the handling of the tournament was far from being perfect, lacking the glamour of the “good old days” of Soviet Chess. Players were accommodated in the vast “Rossija” hotel, which was recently renovated, yet its services remain rather inadequate. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were below standard, and no bulletin was issued. A certain splendour was added by the occasional presence of the ex-World Champions V. Smyslov, B. Spassky and An. Karpov, legendary candidate V. Korchnoi and several renowned GM (Sosonko, Sveshnikov, Morozevich et al).

After nine rounds of tough battles, we had a three-way tie in the top places. The gold medal (and a spot at this year’s Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Festival) went to Russian GM Sergey Rublevsky, bronze to R. Vaganian and silver to V. Filippov. I have to state that, at the suggestion of the players themselves, the 1st criterion was the colours distribution and the 2nd was the average rating of the players' opponents. Yet, V. Filippov had every reason to complain about this, as he was leading for the whole tournament and even beat Rublevsky with black!

The final standings were

1-3: Rublevsky S. (RUS, 2655, opponents' average rating 'oar': 2582), Vaganian R. (ARM, 2623, oar: 2539), Filippov V. (RUS, 2609, oar: 2603) each 7.0 points. Filippov had a higher oar, but +1 colour, while Rublevsky and Vaganian had –1 colours; distribution of colours was the 1st tie-breaker, though,

4-16: Van Wely L. (NED, GM 2617, -1, oar: 2600), Dreev Al. (RUS, 2682, -1, oar: 2582), Tregubov P. (RUS, GM 2628, -1, oar : 2568), Sadvakasov D. (KAZ, GM 2611, -1, oar : 2564), Markowski T. (POL, 2603, -1, oar : 2559), Mamedyarov Sh. (AZE, 2646, +1, oar: 2579), Berkes Fr. (HUN, 2602, +1, oar: 2579), Sasikiran Kr. (IND, 2654, +1, oar: 2576), Graf Al. (GER, 2629, +1, oar: 2576), Sakaev K. (RUS, 2656, +1, oar : 2571), Motylev Al. (RUS, 2640, +1, oar : 2559), Fedorov Al. (BLR, 2601, +1, oar: 2550), Kotsur P. (KAZ, 2569, +1, oar: 2543) 6½ points.

17-29: Dvoirys S. (RUS, 2594), Bacrot Et. (FRA, 2664), Karjakin S. (UKR, 2566), Wu W. (CHN, 2516), Petrosian T. L. (ARM, IM 2477), Lautier J. (FRA, 2676), Korobov Ant. (UKR, 2552), Kharitonov An. (RUS, 2561), Olafsson H. (ISL, GM 2504), Timofeev Art. (RUS, GM 2578), Smirin (ISR, 2670), Sorokin M. (RUS, 2574), Khenkin Ig. (GER, 2611) 6 points.

30-51: Minasian Ara (ARM, IM 2499), Korotylev Al. (RUS, 2547), Spraggett K. (CAN, 2536), Aronian L. (GER, 2648), Volkov S. (RUS, 2631), Khalifman Al. (RUS, 2674), Najer Evg. (RUS, 2602), Potkin Vl. (RUS, 2533), Efimenko Z. (UKR, 2537), Rustemov Al. (RUS, GM 2585), Carlsen M. (NOR, IM 2484, , GM 2585), Carlsen M. (NOR, IM 2484, 2nd GM norm for the child prodigy!), Malakhov (RUS, 2700), Asrian K. (ARM, GM 2599), Felgaer R. (ARG, 2572), Volokitin An. (UKR, 2594), Ivanov S. (RUS, 2544), Socko B. (POL, 2556), Alekseev Evg. (RUS, 2609), Timoshenko G. (UKR 2564), Sargissian G. (ARM, 2618), Kurnosov Ig. (RUS, 2524), Areshchenko Al. (UKR, 2564, 18 years old) 5½ points.

52-87: Kulaots (EST, 2541), Kotronias V. (CYP, 2598), Zhang Zhong (CHN, 2644), Jakovenko Dm. (RUS, 2581), Ramirez Al. (CRC, 2499), Ulibin M. (RUS, 2586), Inarkiev Ern. (RUS, 2606), Bu Xiangzhi (CHN, 2600), Huzman Al. (ISR, 2597), Popov Val. (RUS, 2580), Romanishin Ol. (UKR, 2537), Neverov V. (UKR, 2527), Vlassov N. (RUS, IM 2476), Tkachiev (FRA, 2642), Vescovi (BRA, 2633), Kaidanov Gr. (USA, 2623), Ehlvest J. (EST, 2599), Minasian Art. (ARM, 2582), Gulko B. (USA, 2597), Sulskis S. (LTU, GM 2582), Yemelin V. (RUS, 2578), Yakovich Y. (RUS, 2591), …, 5 points.

At 4½ points among others: Godena M. (ITA, 2515), Zagrebelny S. (UZB, 2521), Movsesian (SVK, 2639), Lugovoi Al. (RUS, 2554), Kovalevskaya Ek. (RUS, 2451), Zhang Pengxiang (CHN, 2523), Kruppa (UKR, 2531), Stefansson H. (ISL, GM 2572), Ni Hua (CHN, 2600), Kudrin Al. (USA, GM 2565). At 4 p., among others : Aleksandrov (BLR, 2679, the 3rd rating and one of the favourites!), Lahno Kat. (UKR, 2493), Kosintseva Tat. (RUS, 2447), Hasangatin R. (RUS, 2515), Sandipan Ch. (IND, 2522), Matveeva Sv. (RUS, 2502), Dolmatov S. (RUS, 2591), Acs P. (HUN, 2579), Ghaem M.E. (IRI, 2566), Nepomniachtchi Ian (RUS, FM 2433), Smirnov P. (RUS, 2609,Nr. 33 in the Ratings List, yet he finished Nr. 141), Gershon Al. (ISR, 2546).

Selection of games

Please allow me to present some of the best games (in my humble opinion) of the Aeroflot tournament. They are all given in JavaScript for replay and download at the end of this article. Some of them follow the analysis published by GMs Mikhail Golubev and IM M. Notkin in the net-based daily chess newspaper “Chess Today”.

Ramirez,A (2499) - Sadvakasov,D (2611)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (1), 17.02.2004 Nimzo-Indian [E52]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Nf3 d5 6.Bd3 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Ne5 Bd6 10.f4 c5 11.Rf3 Nc6 12.Nxd5 Bxe5 13.fxe5 Qxd5 14.exf6 g6 15.b3 Nxd4 16.Rf2 Ne6 17.Qf1 Rfd8 18.Bc4 Qe4 19.Bb2 Ng5 20.Kh1 Nh3 21.Rf3 Rd2 22.Bc3 Rxg2 23.Qxg2 Qxf3 24.Bf1 Qf2 0–1.

Novikov,S (2515) - Ehlvest,J (2602)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (2), 18.02.2004 King’s Indian [E70]
1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 0–0 5.e4 c6 6.Be2 d6 7.0–0 Na6 8.Re1 e5 9.Bf1 Bg4 10.d5 Nb4 11.Be2 a5 12.Bg5 h6 13.Be3 Bd7 14.Nd2 Na6 15.a3 h5 16.Bg5 Qe8 17.dxc6 bxc6 18.Nb3 Qb8 19.c5 Be6 20.Nxa5 Nxc5 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.b4 Qc7 23.Nxc6 Qxc6 24.bxc5 Rfc8 25.a4 Qxc5 26.Nb5 d5 27.exd5 Bxd5 28.Qd2 Be6 29.Rec1 Qe7 30.Rxc8+ Rxc8 31.a5 e4 32.Rd1 Bb3 33.Rb1 Rd8 34.Qe1 Bd5 35.a6 Bc6 36.Rd1 Rxd1 37.Qxd1 Bxb5 38.Bxb5 Qc5 39.Bf1 Bd4 40.Qe2 Kg7 41.g3 e3 42.fxe3 Bxe3+ 43.Kg2 Qd5+ ½–½

Sulskis,S (2582) - Van Wely,L (2617)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (3), 19.02.2004 Sicilian Pelikan [B33]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Na3 b5 10.Nd5 f5 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.Bxb5 Bb7 13.exf5 Bg7 14.0–0 0–0 15.Bc4 Qg5 16.a4 Kh8 17.Ra3 Qxf5 18.Ne3 Qg6 19.Bd5 Rab8 20.a5 f5 21.a6 Ba8 22.a7 Rb5 23.c4 Rb6 24.b4 Rxb4 25.Ra6 Nd4 26.c5 f4 27.Rxd6 Qg5 28.Nc2 f3 29.Ne1 e4 30.Bxa8 Rxa8 31.Rb6 Rxb6 32.cxb6 fxg2 0–1.

Carlsen,M (2484) - Dolmatov,S (2591)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (3), 19.02.2004 Dutch Defence [A04]
In the 3rd round of the Aeroflot Open, 13-year-old Magnus Carlsen defeated the strong and experienced Russian GM Sergey Dolmatov in a highly impressive manner: 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3!? d6 3.e4 e5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.exf5 Bxf5 6.d4! Nxd4. 6...Nb4 7.Bb5+! c6 8.Ba4 was better for White in Krasenkov-Kindermann, European Clubs Cup 2001 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4 Nf6 9.Bc4! An improvement upon the innocent 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 c6 11.0–0 Be7= Romanishin-Malaniuk, Tallinn 1987. 9...c6 10.Bg5 b5. After 10...d5 Carlsen probably would have continued 11.0–0–0 Be7 12.Qe5!; 10...Qe7+ 11.Kd2! clearly favours White; 10...Bxc2 prevents long castling and may make some sense, but it still looks extremely over-optimistic. 11.Bb3 Be7 12.0–0–0 Qd7 13.Rhe1. White has a colossal advantage in development. 13...Kd8?! 13...0–0–0 could be met by 14.g4! Bxg4 15.Rxe7 Qxe7 16.Qxg4+.

14.Rxe7! This blow destroys Black's position. 14...Qxe7 [or 14...Kxe7 15.Bxf6+ gxf6 16.Re1+ Kd8 17.Qxf6+ Kc7 18.Re7, winning the queen. 15.Qf4! Bd7 16.Ne4! d5. After 16...Rf8 17.Nxd6 White is dominating. 17.Nxf6 h6 18.Bh4 g5 19.Qd4 1–0. [Comments: GM M. Golubev, from “Chess Today”].

Kotronias,V (2598) - Sasikiran,K (2654)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (4), 20.02.2004 Sicilian Najdorf [B56]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6 6.Be2 e6 7.Bg5 Bd7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.0–0 Qxb2 10.Qd2 Nc6 11.Nb3 Qa3 12.f4 a6 13.Kh1 h5 14.Nd1 Rc8 15.Ne3 Qb4 16.c3 Qxe4 17.Nc4 Nd8 18.Nd4 h4 19.Bf3 Qh7 20.Nb6 Rc5 21.Nxd7 Kxd7 22.Rab1 h3 23.g3 Rc7 24.f5 Be7 25.Qc2 Kc8 26.Qa4 d5 27.c4 e5 28.Nb3 e4 29.Be2 Qh6 30.cxd5 Qe3 31.Rbe1 Kb8 32.Bf3 Qb6 33.Rxe4 Bd6 34.Qa5 Qa7 35.Qd2 Qb6 36.Na5 Qb5 37.Be2 Qd7 38.Nc4 Bc5 39.d6 Rc8 40.Re7 Qa4 41.Rc7 Nc6 42.Qd5 Qb4 43.a3 Qb5 44.Bd3 Rxc7 45.dxc7+ Kxc7 46.Ne3 Qa5 47.Qxf7+ Kb8 48.Rb1 Nd8 49.Qd5 Re8 50.Be4 Qc7 51.Ng4 Qe7 52.Nxf6 Bxa3 53.Nxe8 Bb4 54.f6 Qxe8 55.Rxb4 1–0

Spraggett,K (2536) - Vescovi,G (2633)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (4), 20.02.2004 Ruy Lopez, 9… Bb7 [C92]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.Bc2 g6 13.d5 Nb8 14.c4 c6 15.b3 Qc7 16.Nf1 Nbd7 17.Bd2 Rec8 18.Rc1 bxc4 19.bxc4 Nc5 20.N3h2 h5 21.Qf3 Be7 22.Qa3 a5 23.Bb1 cxd5 24.exd5 Re8 25.Nf3 Nh7 26.Be3 Nd7 27.Ng3 f5 28.Bxf5 gxf5 29.Nxf5 Bf8 30.N3h4 Bc8

31.Bb6! Nxb6 32.Qg3+ Qg7 33.Nh6+ Kh8 34.Ng6+ Qxg6 35.Qxg6 Bxh6 36.Qxe8+ Bf8 37.Qc6 1–0

Mamedyarov,S (2646) - Timofeev,A (2578)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (5), 21.02.2004 Slav Defence [D45]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.0–0 Be7 9.e4 dxe4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Nf6 12.Ne5 Rc8 13.Rd1 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 0–0 15.Bf4 Ba8 16.Rd3 c5 17.Qe3 Qe8 18.d5 exd5 19.cxd5 c4 20.Rdd1 Bd6 21.Qg3 Qb5 22.Nc6 Bxf4 23.Ne7+ Kh8 24.Qxf4 Rcd8 25.Rd2 Qc5 26.d6 Rd7 27.Rc1 b5 28.Rc3 Rfd8 29.Re3 Rxd6

30.Ng6+! hxg6 31.Qh4+ Qh5 [31...Kg8 32.Qxd8+! Rxd8 33.Rxd8+ Kh7 34.Rh3+ Qh5 35.Rxh5+ gxh5 36.Rxa8+–] 32.Qxd8+! Rxd8 33.Rxd8+ Kh7 34.Ree8 1–0

Efimenko,Z (2537) - Galkin,A (2607)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (5), 21.02.2004 Sicilian Scheveningen [B84]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Be2 Be7 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 Qc7 9.0–0–0 b5 10.a3 Bb7 11.f3 0–0 12.g4 Nc6 13.g5 Nd7 14.h4 b4 15.Nxc6 Bxc6 16.axb4 Rfb8 17.g6 fxg6 18.h5 gxh5 19.Bc4 Nf8 20.Rdg1 Bf6 21.Bd4 Bxd4 22.Qxd4 Be8 23.f4 d5 24.exd5 Rxb4 25.b3 Rd8 26.d6 Rxd6 27.Bxe6+ Nxe6 28.Qxb4 Rd4 29.Qa3 Qxc3 30.Qxa6 Nc5 31.Qa2 Bc6 32.Rxh5 Qe3+ 33.Kb2 Nd3+ 34.Ka3 Qe7+ 35.b4+ Bd5 0–1

Rublevsky,S (2655) - Filippov,V (2609)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (6), 22.02.2004 Sicilian, 2.c3 [B22]
The clash between the 1st and 3rd winner: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Bc4 d6 6.d4 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nb6 8.Bb3 dxe5 9.Nxe5 Nc6 10.Nf3 Be7 11.Nc3 Bf6 12.Be3 Na5 13.Bc2 Nac4 14.0–0 Nxb2 15.Qe2 N2c4 16.Ne5 Nd6 17.Qh5 g6 18.Qh6 Nf5 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.Rfe1 Be6 21.Rad1 Nd5 22.Nxd5 Qxd5 23.Nd3 0–0–0 24.Qf4 Qd6 25.Rc1+ Kb8 26.Qxd6+ Rxd6 27.Bf4 Rhd8 28.Nc5 Bxa2 29.d5 a5! 30.Re2 Bxd5 31.Rd2 Ka7! 32.Bxd6 Rxd6 33.Rcd1 Kb6 34.Rxd5 Rxd5 35.Rxd5 Kc6 36.Rd7 [36.Nd7 is bad due to 36...Kxd5 37.Nxf6+ Kc4; White could have played 36.Nxb7 Kxd5 37.Nxa5 and most likely the ending with all pawns on the kingside is drawn. But the game move doesn't lose yet.] 36...Kxc5 37.Rxb7 a4

38.Kf1? [White should have deleted as many enemy pawns as possible - 38.Rxf7 Bb2 39.Rxh7 a3 40.Ra7 Kb4 41.Ra6 Kb3 42.Rb6+! Kc2 43.Rxg6 a2 44.Ra6= The white king doesn't come in time to the queenside and Black promotes the a-pawn.] 38...a3 39.Ra7 Kb4 40.Ke2 Kb3 41.Kd3 a2 42.Rb7+ Ka3 43.Ra7+ Kb2 44.Rb7+ Kc1 45.Rc7+ Kd1 0–1. [Comments based on IM M. Notkin’s analysis, from “Chess Today”]

Vescovi,G (2633) - Areshchenko,A (2564)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (6), 22.02.2004 Sicilian 3.Bb5+ [B52]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.0–0 Rc8 11.b3 d5 12.e5 Ne8 13.Nxd5 e6 14.Nc3 Bxe5 15.Nde2 b5! 16.Bh6 bxc4 17.Rb1 cxb3 [17...Qxd1!? 18.Rfxd1 cxb3 19.Rxb3 Nc6 and Black looks Okay] 18.Rxb3 Qe7?! 19.f4 Bh8 20.f5! gxf5 21.Nd5! exd5? [Maxim Notkin suggested 21...Qc5+!? with the idea 22.Kh1 Qxd5 23.Rg3+ Bg7 24.Qa1 e5! , as 25.Bxg7 Nxg7 26.Nf4 Qd4 27.Qxd4 exd4 28.Nh5 hardly gives White much] 22.Rg3+ Bg7 23.Nd4 Kf8? [Black should have opted for 23...Qc5 or 23...f4].

24.Rxg7! Nxg7 25.Nxf5+- Kg8 26.Bxg7 Qe4 27.Qh5 Rc6 28.Nh6+ Kxg7 29.Qg5+ 1–0

Last year’s winner, GM Viorel Bologan, was in a bad form in this tournament:

Kotsur,P (2569) - Bologan,V (2679)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (7), 23.02.2004 Gruenfeld Defence [D75]
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0–0 5.g3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Bg2 c5 8.0–0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Nc6 10.e3 Qa5 11.Bb2 Rd8 12.Qe2 e5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Bxe5 15.c4 Rd2 16.Qxd2 Qxd2 17.Bxe5 Bg4 18.Bxb7 Re8 19.Bf4 Be2 20.Rfc1 Re6 21.Bd5 Rf6 22.Be4 Re6 23.Rc2 Qb4 24.Bd5 Bd3 25.Rcc1 Ra6 26.Be5 Kf8 27.Bc3 Qa3 28.Be1 Qb2 29.Bc3 Qe2 30.Re1 Qg4 31.e4 Be2 32.e5 Ra3 33.Rac1 Rxa2 34.Rb1 Bxc4 35.Rb8+ Ke7 36.Rb7+ Kd8 37.Be4 Kc8 38.h3 Qxh3 39.Reb1 Ba6 40.Rxf7 Qg4 41.Bd5 Rxf2 42.Kxf2 Qe2+ 43.Kg1 Qe3+ 44.Kg2 1–0

Volokitin,A (2594) - Carlsen,M (2484)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (7), 23.02.2004 Sicilian Najdorf, 6.Bc4 [B87]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 b5 7.Bb3 e6 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.g4 b4 10.g5 Nfd7 11.Na4 Nc6 12.Be3 Na5 13.0–0–0 Bb7 14.Bd2 Nxb3+ 15.Qxb3 Be7 [15...Nc5 16.Nxc5 dxc5 17.Qa4+ Qd7 18.Qxd7+ Kxd7 and Black is better (M. Golubev)] 16.Bxb4 Bxe4 17.Rhe1 Bd5 18.Qg3 0–0 19.Nf5 exf5 20.Rxe7 Qc4 21.Qxd6 Be6 22.b3 Qh4 23.Rxe6 fxe6 24.Qxe6+ Kh8 25.Be7 Qxf2 26.Qxd7 Rfe8 27.Bc5 Qh4 28.Qxf5 1–0

Rublevsky,S (2655) - Asrian,K (2599)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (8), 24.02.2004 Caro-Kann, 3.e5 [B12]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c4!? cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Nxd4 e6 7.Nc3 Bb4 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bd3 d4. Now Black wins a pawn by force. Asrian, however, underestimated the power of the initiative that White will develop. 10.a3 Ba5 11.b4 Bc7. 11...dxc3 12.bxa5 Qxa5 13.Qe2!? should also be dangerous for Black in the long run. 12.Ne4 Bxe5 13.Qh5! Qc7. After 13...Bc7 very strong is 14.Bg5! Ne7 (or 14...Qd7 15.0–0 e5 16.f4!? Qg4 17.Qxg4 Bxg4 18.fxe5 Bxe5 19.Rae1) 15.Bf6! 14.f4! Bd6. In the variation 14...Bxf4 15.0–0! Be5 (or 15...Qe5 16.Qf3! Bxh2+ 17.Kh1) 16.Rxf7! Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Qxf7 18.Qxh2, the black king would hardly survive for long – White's pieces are arranged perfectly. 15.Bb2 Ne7?! No better would be 15...Bxf4?! 16.Bxd4 Qd7 17.Qc5!; Black could have tried 15...Nf6 with the idea of 16.Nxd6+ Qxd6 17.Qe5 Qxe5+ 18.fxe5 Nd7 19.Bxd4 c5, but White's chances should be preferable here as well. 16.0–0 Bxf4. After 16...Nf5 , both 17.g4! and 17.Nxd6+ would ensure White's great advantage. 17.Bxd4. 17.Bc1!? with a strong attack was a decent alternative. 17...Nf5 18.Bc5 Ba6? 18...Be5! was the only way to stay in the game, but Black's life would be still hard after 19.Rae1.

19.Rxf4! Qxf4 20.Rf1. After the bishop, White also wants to eliminate Black's knight. Then Nd6+ will simply be crushing. 20...Qh6. 20...g6 21.Nf6+ Kd8 22.Qd1! is winning for White. 21.Rxf5 Qxh5. In the line 21...exf5 22.Nd6+ Kd7 23.Qxf7+ Kd8 24.Nb7+ Bxb7 25.Qe7+ Kc8 26.Bxf5+ White mates. 22.Nd6+ Kd7 23.Rxh5. Having two pieces for the rook and dominating position, White is totally winning. 23...Raf8 24.b5 Bc8 25.Rh4 Kc7 26.Nxc8 Rxc8 27.Bxa7 Rhd8 28.Be4 Rd1+ 29.Kf2 Rcd8 30.Rxh7 R8d2+ 31.Kg3 Ra2 32.Bc5 Rc1 33.b6+ Kb7 34.Rxg7 1–0 [Comments based on GM M. Golubev’s analysis, from “Chess Today”]

Vaganian,R (2623) - Petrosian,T (2477)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (8), 24.02.2004 Gruenfeld Defence [D73]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0–0 5.d4 c6 6.Nc3 d5 7.cxd5 cxd5 8.Ne5 e6 9.Bg5 Qb6 10.Qd2 Nfd7 11.Be3 Nc6 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.0–0 a5 14.b3 Ba6 15.Rfd1 Rfc8 16.Rac1 Qb4 17.Bh6 Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Nb6 19.e4 a4 20.Qe3 axb3 21.axb3 Bb7 22.f4 f5 23.exf5 exf5 24.Ra1 Kf7 25.Na4 Re8 26.Qd2 Qxd2 27.Rxd2 Re3 28.Rb1 Nxa4 29.bxa4 Bc8 30.Ra2 Ra5 31.Rb8 Ba6 32.Ra8 Re1+ 33.Kf2 Rd1 34.Rb2 Rxa4

35.Bxd5+!! Kg7 [35...cxd5 36.Ra7+ Ke6 (36...Ke8 37.Rb8+ Bc8 38.Rxc8#) 37.Rb6#] 36.Bb3 Rb4 [36...Rdxd4 37.Bxa4 Rxa4 38.Rb7+ Bxb7 39.Rxa4+–] 37.Rxa6 Rd3 38.Ra3 Rb7 39.Ke2 Rxd4 40.Rba2 1–0

Minasian,A (2499) - Ehlvest,J (2602)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (8), 24.02.2004 King’s Indian Attack [B40]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.c3 Nf6 5.Nbd2 d5 6.Qe2 Be7 7.g3 b6 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.0–0 0–0 10.e5 Nd7 11.Re1 b5 12.h4 a5 13.a4 Ba6 14.axb5 Bxb5 15.c4 dxc4 16.dxc4 Ba6 17.b3 Nb6 18.Ne4 a4 19.Rd1 Qb8 20.Bb2 Rd8 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 22.exf6 Rxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Nd5 24.Ng5 g6 25.Nxe6 1–0

Lautier,J (2676) - Vaganian,R (2623)
3rd Aeroflot Open Moscow (9), 25.02.2004 Queen’s Gambit [D31]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2. More aggressive is 7.g4. 8...Bg6 9.Bg3 Nh6! Vaganian's trade mark. The advantages of knight's unusual development will become obvious pretty soon. 10.Bf2. More natural looks 10.Nf4 on which Black replies 10...Nf5 11.Bf2 Bd6 with a good position. 10...Bd6 11.g4. 11.e4 dxe4 12.fxe4 Ng4 looks dubious as White falls behind in development. 11...f5. Thanks to the knight's location on the edge of the board this pawn is free. 12.h3 0–0 13.Bg2 Qe7 14.0–0. The king wouldn't feel at ease on the queenside either but Vaganian said that playing Qe7 he had already foreseen the combination that occurred in the game! 14...fxg4 15.hxg4 Qg5! Now White can't disturb the queen moreover it's hard for him to find a reasonable rearrangement. The weakness on g4 makes impossible all the pawn advances while the pieces are badly placed and its transferences are hampered by the necessity to protect those pawns. 16.Qd2 Rae8 17.Rae1. Nobody in the Press-Centre saw what Vaganian had planned five moves ago.

17...Rxf3!! 18.Bxf3 Nxg4 19.Bg3. After 19.Bxg4 Qxg4+ 20.Bg3 Bxg3 21.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 22.Qg2 (22.Kh1 Bh5 23.Qg2 Qh4+ 24.Qh2 Bf3+!) 22...Rxe3 Black gains three pawns for the exchange. 19...Nxe3 20.Kh1 . In the event of 20.Bg2 Bxg3 21.Nxg3 Qxg3 22.Rf3 Qxg2+ 23.Qxg2 Nxg2 24.Rxe8+ Bxe8 25.Kxg2 we have the same three pawns for the exchange. 20...Bh5!! This quiet move decides as the g2 square loses its only defender. 21.Bxh5. 21.Bxd6?? Bxf3+ 22.Rxf3 Qg2#; or 21.Nf4 Nxf1 22.Rxf1 Qxg3 23.Nxh5 (23.Bxh5 Bxf4 24.Qxf4 Qh3+ 25.Kg1 Qxh5) 23...Qh4+ 24.Kg1 g6! winning. 21...Qxh5+ 22.Kg1 Qh3! 23.Rf2. 23.Qxe3 Rxe3 24.Bxd6 Qg4+ and White should give up two pieces for a rook. 23...Bxg3 24.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 25.Rg2. [25.Kh1 Re6] 25...Nxg2! 26.Rxe8+ Kf7 27.Rc8 Ne3+. Easier was 27...Nh4+ winning the queen or checkmating after 28.Kf1 (28.Kh1 Nf3!) 28...Qh3+ 29.Ke2 (29.Kf2 Qg2+ 30.Ke3 Qf3#) 29...Qf3+ 30.Ke1 Ng2+. 28.Kh1 Nf6 0–1 [comments based on IM M. Notkin’s analysis, from “Chess Today”]

Concerning the B tournament this was also a strong Open, with 248 participants, among them 5 GMs [Yagupov Ig., RUS, 2439, Tseitlin Mark D., ISR, 2426, Zaitsev Ig., RUS, 2423, Bagaturov G., GEO, 2422, Zilberman Y., ISR, 2407]; about 70 IMs and 17 WGMs [Alexandrova Olga, UKR, 2437, Dembo Y., HUN, 2424, Slavina Ir., RUS, 2413, Khurtsidze N., GEO, 2411, Xu Yuanyuan, CHN, 2407, Lomineishvili M., GEO, 2397, Mkrtchian L., ARM, 2395, Moser Eva, AUT, 2392, Pogonina Nat., RUS, 2382, Wang Yu, CHN, 2381, Dworakowska J., POL, 2370, Matnadze Ana, GEO, 2361, Mongontuul B., MGL, 2353, Usherina An., UKR, 2348, Mamedjarova Z., AZE, 2341, Shaidullina S., RUS, 2316, Mashinskaya I., RUS, 2244]. 58 players had a rating higher than 2400!

The final standings:

1-4: Dzakaev Dz. (RUS, 2443, -1 in colours, opponents’ aver. rating (oar): 2377), Bagaturov G. (GEO, GM 2422, Nr. 28 in the Starting List, -1, oar: 2360), Arutinian D. (GEO, IM 2420, Nr. 30, +1, oar: 2373), Shvedchikov An. (RUS, IM 2426, Nr. 19, +1, oar: 2353) 7½ point.

5-10: Konguvel P. (IND, IM 2366, Nr. 98, -1, oar: 2340), Yudin S. (RUS, FM 2412, Nr. 44, -1, oar: 2319), Ibraev N. (KAZ, IM 2427, Nr. 17, +1, oar : 2369), Tseitlin Mark D. (ISR, GM 2426, Nr. 18, +1, oar: 2345), Sideif-Sade F. (AZE, IM 2415, Nr. 39, +1, oar: 2335), Gunnarsson Arn. (ISL, FM 2366, Nr. 99, +1, oar: 2330) 7 points.

Spyridon Ilandzis is 41 years old, a chemist by profession, working as a Quality Director in a food company, in Athens, Greece. He is an amateur chess player with a master rating of 2200+. His highest rating was 2335 in 1988-90, when he lived in New York and frequently participated in week-end events organized by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Chess Clubs. Spiros is also a chess journalist and contributes chess columns of local newspapers. He was the chief editor of the Greek chess magazines "Diva Caissa" (1986-88) and "SAH" (1998-2003). He is a member of the Board of the Greek Chess Federation and the President of the Chess Composition Committee.

The above picture shows Spiros on the right presenting a plaque to Byron Zappas, a legendary chess composer. Byron (or "Vyron") is 77 years old has won more than 100 medals in various chess composing competitions. He is a Chess Composition grandmaster and a much-respected figure in the strange world of chess problems. Spiros reminds us that there are only 26 GMs in this field, while over-the-board chess has more than 1,000 grandmasters.

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