In the past, the Aeroflot Open in Moscow has been a monster tournament and has been a very difficult one to win.
Last year it was won by Mateusz Bartel of Poland. Though the prizes were attractive, the attendance had dropped and there was some feeling that the tournament might be discontinued.
However, the great competition was renewed this year, but has suffered a radical facelift. Tournament officials decided to abandon the classical time limits and the large Open Swiss structure of the past. They replaced it with a large Open Swiss rapid qualifying event limited to 300 players. This event’s 32 top finishing players would then move on to a 2-game rapid knockout format tournament. This event’s top eight finishes would then move on to the Main Finals, where they, along with the eight already-ceded “Stars,” would play a series of 2-game knockout matches to determine the champion of the 2013 tournament. It’s a very novel and complicated approach for such an important tournament.
The first qualifying event was held on Feb. 12-13 to germinate the 32 players for the knock-out rapid tournament on Feb. 15. This nine-round Swiss generously allowed the participants 15 minutes per game plus a bonus of 10 seconds per move. Gata Kamsky, who had made the trip from the Tradewise Gibraltar tournament, and Max Dlugy were the only Americans in the event. Kamsky was the top seed with an impressive rating of 2760. He tied for first with Sanan Sjugirov of Russia, Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan, and Abhiijeet Gupta of India, all with scores of 7-2. The 32 qualifiers were guaranteed a prize of $1,000 notwithstanding their future fortune.
The results of the second qualifying event produced the eight players who then moved on to the Main Final to face the eight “stars.”
All this is a bit hard to follow, but it is clear that to say winning was difficult is an understatement. It is the sort of chess that David Bronstein dreamed of and that Garry Kasparov disapproves of. Success depends on flash point reactions, and it is debatable whether luck is a factor.
In the Main Final, Kamsky defeated Pavel Eljanov but was then beaten by Alexander Grischuk; 1.5-.5. Sergey Karjakin survived with wins against Dmitry Frolyanov, Hao Wang, and Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the last game of the last match, Karjakin and Grischuk got down to three seconds apiece, with Grischuk fumbling a piece and then losing on time.
It should also be mentioned that there was a very large side blitz tournament on Feb. 14 with 275 players. Russian Nepomniachtchi pulled ahead of the field and faced Peter Svidler, also of Russia, in the final round. He managed to win when Svidler’s flag fell.
Brevity: M. Brodsky vs. I. Drozdov (1988) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Nb3 Qc7 8.Qd2 Nf6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Be2 b6 11.Rc1 Bb7 12.0–0 Rad8 13.c5 bxc5 14.Nxc5 Ba8 15.Nd5 Qc8 16.b4 Qb8 17.b5 Ne5 18.Nxf6+; 1-0 (with the threat of 19. f4, trapping the knight.)
Winners: Worcester Fresh Start Open: 1st, Muharrem Brahimaj, 4-1, 2d, Alonzo Ross, 3.5-1.5; Waltham CC Fri. #128: 1st, Denys Shmelov, 7-0, Robert Perez, 6-1.
Coming Events: Harvard Chess Club every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m. at Quincy House, nonmembers and non-students are welcome with permission of the club, firstname.lastname@example.org
.edu; MCC Vernal Equinox Swiss March 5, 12, 19, 26; 117 E. Central St., Natick, www.metro