Aeroflot Open Rd 09: Sethuraman finishes joint second!
In the final round of the Aeroflot Open, Indian GM SP Sethuraman managed to defeat GM Victor Bologan from Moldova to clinch second place in the tournament with a score of 6.5/9. This was quite a welcome result for Indian fans especially after Sasikiran and Aravindh's final round losses and draws by Vidit Gujrathi and Murali Karthikeyan. On the top board, tournament leader, Vladislav Kovalev secured a comfortable draw against Gabriel Sargissian and bagged the champion's trophy with a score of 7.0/9. Russian GM Dmitry Gordievsky also scored 6.5/9 and finished third on the tiebreak. Among other Indian players, Sasikiran and Aravindh Chithambaram took the 25th and the 26th spots respectively while Karthikeyan and Vidit Gujrathi finished 29th and 35th on the leaderboard.
Before the players crossed swords for one last time, I was thinking about the importance of the final round in any event. In chess tournaments, especially, it could be extremely exciting and can produce really shocking results. Unlike in the knock-out format, the tournament leader isn't guranteed a second place if he loses while players slightly lower down the leaderboard can jump back to the top all in the course of one round. This is perhaps makes these tournaments so exciting. Nevertheless, there were a few things that were very clear before the final round began. Kovalev, the tournament leader, only needed a draw to secure the title prize. But if he lost, anyone of the 11 players who were a point behind him could have had a shot at the title.
Let's begin by looking at the final round games of the top three finishers.
Kovalev vs Sargissian
In an anti-King's Indian Defence system, Kovalev managed to build up a strong position for himself. For Sargissian, getting to agree to a draw was a stroke of fortune in a way while for Kovalev, winning the title prize took precedence over winning the game.
Bologan vs Sethuraman
For Indian fans, this was the most important game because Sethuraman had a chance of finishing among the top three if he won. The same condition applied to Bologan as well. In the previous round, Bologan had scored a splendid win Evgeny Najer and must have been bustling with confidence. But with the white pieces in an Italian Opening, the Moldovan GM made a few errors and allowed his opponent put his position under pressure. In the ensuing rook endgame, Bologan lost a pawn and wasn't able to hold his position together for too long.
Tabatabaei vs Gordievsky
Amin Tabatabaei, who had played splendidly after his first-round loss to Eesha Karavade, had to taste a bitter defeat in the final round at the hands of Dmitry Gordievsky. In a Queen's Gambit, the Iranian IM underestimated the danger on his king and this simply spelt doom for him. The position did look equal until a certain point in the game but a few bad moves with his knight by Tabatabaei led to his downfall pretty soon. With this win, Gordievsky caught up with Sethuraman for the second place but due to an inferior tiebreak, finished third.
19-year-old Vladislav Artemiev, who had performed sensationally throughout the event, was unable to win his game against compatriot, Igor Lysyj and finished with a 25-move draw.
Vidit Gujrathi, who had finally broken his spell of seven straight draws in the previous round, went back to drawing in the final round. In round 9, he drew against Aleksey Aleksandrov. The tournament was a disaster for the Indian number three. Although he did not lose a single game, his performance of 2581 was way below his 2723 rating. He will be losing around 16 points in Aeroflot.
Standings Group A
|5||40||GM||Petrosian Tigran L.||ARM||2589||6,0||4||2645||2757||10||20,4|
Standings (Group B)
|8||IM||Harutyunian Tigran K.||13303635||ARM||2488|
|13||GM||Vorotnikov Vladislav V||4103009||RUS||2472|
|24||GM||Balashov Yuri S||4100263||RUS||2431|
About the Author
FIDE Instructor Niklesh Kumar Jain Jain is an international chess player who has participated in tournaments in almost in 20 different countries, winning the international tournament in Sri Lanka in 2010. He also worked for a television network as an anchor and news writer for two years, and reported in Hindi during World Chess Championship 2013 and 2014. Niklesh loves to write about tournaments and do interviews with chess champions. He has ambitions to become a grandmaster, but at the same time loves to train young talent. He strongly believes chess should be the part of every school curriculum, to face the challenges of the 21st century.