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2 March 2018

A Pair of Wings I Will Wound to Be Closer to Dortmund

Ultimate Round of the 2018 Aeroflot Open in the review of Eteri Kublashvili

This is yet another big event that has come to its logical end as Moscow sums up the results of the 2018 Aeroflot Open. The main tournament was confidently taken by Vladislav Kovalev without a single failure. Following his victory in round six over the Russian Vladislav Artemiev, the Belorussian player, seeded No.16, has firmly settled in the driver’s seat to never let go of his lead until it was over. In the penultimate round Kovalev outplayed Amin Tabatabaei, who is definitely a tournament revelation, and increased the gap from his pursuers to a whole point. In the ultimate round Vladislav could do with a draw, which he sealed after obtaining a very pleasant position as Black against Gabriel Sargissian.

The tournament victory comes with a ticket into the Dortmund supertournament, and the Belorussian grandmaster has the following to say about his success: 

- You need to stay afloat up to the very end in a tournament like this, the price of each game being very high.  If I were to go down in the ultimate round, I would have dropped out of the triumvirate of prize takers. However, at a certain moment the tournament started playing into my hands: I had relatively easy victories as White as my opponents would commit many blunders, while I managed to make easy draws as Black. Frankly speaking, I have had no lengthy games, but it was exhaustive anyway. The tournament was in general a rather good one for me.

- Which game are you most happy about?

- Round eight was a decisive game with the Iranian player. I was into some luck though: he blundered in the opening when I set him a trap, which I analyzed several years ago. When he walked into it, I was immediately advantageous. However, I failed to recall the lines, although it was in my book up to the winning move, and, therefore, had to settle for converting in a technical position.

- How many Aeroflot Opens have you been a participant of?

I have played in three, including this one - two times in A and once in the B section.

- Is your success in any way connected with the recent team training sessions carried out by Vladimir Tukmakov?

- It might well be so, but it is not only that. I have benefited a lot from the training session. I rather liked it.

- What are your further plans?

- I will play in the European Championship. I will take some rest first and then will get down to my preparation.

- Is Dortmund going to be your first supertournament?

- Yes, and this is going to be a real challenge. I will perhaps organize a week-long training session with my friends prior to it. Meanwhile, I have nothing more definite to say yet.


Vladislav Artemiev, Dmitry Gordievsky, Igor Lysyj, Tigran Petrosian, Gabriel Sargissian, Viorel Bologan, Amin Tabatabaei, S.P. Sethuraman and Anton Korobov were one point behind the leader with one round to go.

On the last day the games Artemiev - Lysyj and Petrosian - Korobov ended in a draw, but Dmitry Gordievsky and Sethuraman managed to beat Amin Tabatabaei and Viorel Bologan accordingly to clinch into prizes with 6.5 points each.

Better additional tiebreakers have secured a second place to the Indian grandmaster.  It was only one game that Sethuraman lost in this tournament: his offender in round three was Tigran Petrosian. On the way to his medal and prize the Indian defeated two compatriots of his, Aryan Chopra and Murali Karthikeyan, the latter defeated in round eight. During the home stretch run Sethuraman defeated an experienced Bologan as Black.

Bologan - Sethuraman

Black has solved his opening problems in the Giuoco Piano, successfully maneuvering in the middlegame and transposing  after a series of trades into a nice endgame, in which the knight is superior to the bishop.

After a tricky 33…Nb2 the iron friend advises White to temporary ditch the e4- pawn  to keep his bishop. Something like the line given below is not out of the question: 34. Bd6 Rxe4 35. Rc8+ Kh7 36. Rc7 Rxa4 37. Rxf7.

Meanwhile, the game saw 34. a5 Nd3 35. axb6 axb6 36. Rf1 Nxf4 37. Rxf4 Re5 38. Kg3 Rxb5 and Black emerged up a pawn, a remote passer at that, and went on to convert his edge in a rook ending. 

Similar to Vladislav Kovalev, a bronze winner Dmitry Gordievsky has done without a single loss. A diagram from his round eight battle against Evgeny Romanov was on display in our  "Position of the Day" section for a whole day. In the final round, the Russian delivered a must-win against Amin Black.  The game was a rather double-edged one. Black sacrificed a piece first, then Black had to give the material back not to get checkmated, and even took the initiative over, but ended up overdoing it.  

Tabatabaei - Gordievsky

A sharp play ran into no lesser sharp counterplay:

33…f5! 34. Nf2 c5! 35. bxc5 bxc5 36. d5 Rxd5 37. Qa2 Nf6 38. h4 Re5! 39. Qc2 Rxe3: Black won two pawns in addition to an overwhelming position. It took a long to convert, but Dmitry ended up celebrating his deserved victory on move 70.

Places from fourth to tenth were shared by Xu Xiangyu, Tigran Petrosian, Vladislav Artemiev, Igor Lysyj, Gabriel Sargissian, Anton Korobov and Rauf Mamedov.

The best result among women is with Aleksandra Goryachkina, who has 4.5 points and has outscored even Aeroflot’s last year winner Vladimir Fedoseev.

Triumphing in the Tournament B with 7.5 points was Mikhail Mozharov.  Half a point behind him finished Alexander Moskalenko (2nd place) and Dorian Rogozenko (3rd place).

A winner of the C tournament with 7,5 points under his belt was Gleb Apryshko, whose secret was recently shared by my colleague Dmitry Kryakvin on the pages of our website.

The prize fund amounted to 120 000 Euro. Special prizes were to be received by best veterans, women and junior players (for a total sum of 2500 Euro). 

Besides Aeroflot, the chess festival was co-organized by the Russian Chess Federation and the Association of Chess Federations.

See you again in Cosmos

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