The Great Chess Market

2/14/2006 – The Aeroflot Open is an event where players from all over the world gather for top-level chess. It is also a place where managers flock, looking for new stars to enhance their league teams. For professional players an ideal opportunity to offer their services. Misha Savinov worked the crowd and sent us this report from Moscow.

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The traditional Aeroflot Open is being staged in Moscow from February 7 (arrival) to 17 (departure), 2006 at the Hotel Gamma (part of the Tourist Complex "Ismailovo"). The Festival consists of four nine-round Swiss tournaments, with a total prize fund of US $175,000. The winner of A1 tournament will be invited to play in the Dortmund Sparkassen Meeting, which takes place from July 23 to August 5, 2006.

Aeroflot Open after round six

Report and pictures by Misha Savinov

The Aeroflot Open is a great chess forum and a great chess market. You meet people, make friends, hang out, play blitz, analyze – socialize. You can also buy pretty much everything connected to chess – sets, CDs and DVDs, various manuals and copybooks, game collections and opening encyclopedias, badges and postcards, and so on, and so forth. The news and rumors spread with lightning speed. Did you know that since December 2005 Kasparov’s second and trainer GM Yury Dokhoian is working with the Kosintseva sisters?

And if you are a pro player, you can sell yourself – to a team. Bundesliga, French league, ECL – these are the most reliable income sources for chess players. You don’t have to beat 7 opponents in 9 days to get a prize; in fact, you often receive a fixed amount of money just for playing, and some extra for individual or team successes.

I could not hear the discussion between GM Darmen Sadvakasov and one of the top Russian chess managers Dr Alexander Khasin, but one could guess…


How much do you want?


More than you can afford.

Recently the Russian chess Premier League became probably the strongest of all. Top boards in Bundesliga teams are sometimes as powerful as in Russian teams, but it is overall lineup solidity what makes Russian clubs so powerful. However, as one can see observing the English Premiership leader Chelsea FC, virtually any lineup can be strengthened. And the Aeroflot is the greatest chess stock exchange. Team managers arrive to the festival to recruit new players to their clubs.

And, of course, not only club managers find this tournament useful for recruiting purposes. Russian national team manager Sergey Dolmatov also occasionally visits the venue.


Dolmatov with GM Zlochevsky

Finding replacements for such figures as Kramnik, Dreev and Bareev is a tough job. Russian junior players have no advantage over their foreign colleagues. In fact, the situation is quite opposite. Promising youngsters appear even in Norway and France, but not in Russia – and those who were considered promising a few years ago, like Pavel Smirnov, did not develop sufficiently to substitute the last Soviet chess generation.


Pavel Smirnov (right) analyzes his loss to Tigran Petrosian (left)

In the 90s Russian chess life flourished around the Russian Cup series of Swiss tournaments. Such players as Kotsur, Fedorov and even Morozevich owe a lot to a schooling of these events. Nowadays Chinese players use the Aeroflot open as an excellent training ground. In fact, all members of both the men’s (expect Zhang Zhong) and the women’s teams are present in Moscow.


Chinese rising star Wang Hao in the skittles room


The skittles room, or the skittles corridor, to be more precise, is a place of truly democratic atmosphere. Here grandmasters sit next to ordinary chess fans.

The players’ behavior in the last minutes before the clocks are started is different. Some keep smiling and chatting until the very beginning of the round, others sit quietly, trying to concentrate. When players of two different types ought to play each other, it is fun to observe them.


Alexandra Kosteniuk adjusts her camera, while Bu Xiangzhi tries to maintain his concentration and looks embarrassed by his opponent’s vivaciousness. The game was eventually drawn, by the way.

Changing one's apparel is one of the options to break an unfavorable streak. After making five straight draws, Alexander Khalifman decided to try a new look. Unfortunately for him, Andrei Shchekachev was unimpressed, and the game was duly drawn on the 23rd move.


No decisive games for ex-world champion so far


Characteristic pose for Vladimir Akopian

Khalifman’s opponent in the Las Vegas final, Vladimir Akopian, is the only player who is challenging the new generation. All other leaders are under 30, except Vachier Lagrave, who is under 20. And one of these people is very likely to win the event. Eljanov’s chances look very high, as he played Black in the first round. There are three rounds to go, so we’ll see.


Left: Mamedyarov, Sasikiran, Eljanov, Vachier Lagrave, vs right: Akopian, Malakhov, Kempinski


Zhang Pengxiang of China


Pavel Eljanov and Evgeny Alekseev after their game. Left is Vladimir Eljanov, IM and successful chess publisher, Pavel’s father.


Overview of the playing hall


A brief interview for 7TV Sports channel

Round 7

Just half and hour after the start, and there is already a draw on the table 7: it took five moves for Valery Popov to make an offer to Karen Asrian. In Georgiev-Eljanov it is a Queen’s Indian with White having a customary spatial advantage. This game may be lengthy. On the second table Vachier Lagrave meets Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Frenchman got a second White in a row, and his position looks solid enough to make a draw from a position of strength. Akopian-Sasikiran looks to be the most complex game at top boards at the moment…


Moscow winter afternoon; entrance to the hotel “Izmailovo” territory


A 30-storey building in which the players live and play, and a concert hall.


A Ukrainian story: Areshchenko from the A1 tournament (2,5/6) explains the A2 leader Drozdovsky (5/6) what went wrong for him.


Pavel Eljanov is in the lead and already has a superior color tiebreak…


Rising star: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 15


Kiril Georgiev challenges Eljanov’s supremacy with 1.d4


Dreev and Bologan both have a modest “+1” score

Top standings after six rounds

1

Eljanov,P

2655

5.0/6

2

Akopian,Vl

2704

4.5/6

3

Mamedyarov,S

2709

4.5/6

4

Popov,Val

2592

4.0/6

5

Petrosian,TL

2558

4.0/6

6

Fressinet,L

2625

4.0/6

7

Vachier Lagrave,M

2542

4.0/5

8

Malakhov,V

2694

4.0/6

9

Jakovenko,D

2662

4.0/6

10

Motylev,A

2638

4.0/6

11

Huzman,A

2573

3.5/6

12

Kempinski,R

2619

3.5/6

13

Balogh,C

2561

3.5/6

14

Najer,E

2652

3.5/6

15

Alekseev,Evgeny

2634

3.5/5

16

Bologan,V

2661

3.5/6

17

Georgiev,Ki

2645

3.5/5

18

Naiditsch,A

2657

3.5/5

19

Bu Xiangzhi

2645

3.5/6

20

Sakaev,K

2649

3.5/6

21

Timofeev,Arty

2653

3.5/6

22

Sasikiran,K

2670

3.5/5

23

Galkin,A

2616

3.5/5

24

Izoria,Z

2652

3.5/6

Links

  • Official web site – very professional and ambitiously presented in Russian and English
  • Games – live coverage and games to replay on a Flash board or for download as PGN.
  • Photos – There are lots of photos, presented in a very slick Macromedia Flash client, which does not work properly in Firefox but is fine in Internet Explorer. Once more there are no captions, so you either know the faces or simply enjoy the general atmosphere.
  • Information and regulations

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