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Aeroflot Open Rd 09: Sethuraman finishes joint second!

by Niklesh Jain - 01/03/2018

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.  

A brief look at the happenings of round 9 | ChessBase India YouTube 

Let's begin by looking at the final round games of the top three finishers.

Kovalev vs Sargissian

Kovalev managed to build up a strong position within just 15 moves | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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 

Victor Bologan's opening errors cost him a full point against SP Sethuraman | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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.

Final moments of the game | ChessBase India YouTube
Interview with SP Sethuraman | ChessBase India YouTube

Tabatabaei vs  Gordievsky

Amin Tabatabaei started and finished with a loss but played extremely well in the other seven games | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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. 

Vladislav Artemiev drew against his compatriot Igor Lysyj in just 25 moves | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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.

The board two encounter between Tigran Petrosian and Anton Korobov also ended in a draw. Both players had performed extremely well throughout the event did not risk too much in their final game which began with a Queen's Indian Defence and lasted 42 moves. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Another important game from the Indian standpoint was the one between Aravindh Chithambaram and Rauf Mamedov. In the game, Mamedov defeated the young Indian GM and made his way into the top 10 on the leaderboard. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The game between former FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman and Gata Kamsky was a simple draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Sasikiran too did not have a good result in his final round game. He was defeated by the Chinese GM Xu Xiangyu | Photo: Niklesh Jain 

Vidit Gujrathi was unable to win his final round game and scored his eighth draw of the tournament. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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.

R Praggnanandhaa, with his final round draw against GM Wen Yang had to give his GM norm a miss | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Top three finishers of Group A: (L to R) SP Sethuraman, Vladislav Kovalev & Dmitry Gordievsky | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Top three finishers of Group B | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Standings Group A

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2 RpKrtg+/-
116GMKovalev VladislavBLR26417,04258027911016,8
215GMSethuraman S.P.IND26466,55257327341010,6
319GMGordievsky DmitryRUS26306,55255827251011,4
454GMXu XiangyuCHN25456,04265427801028,5
540GMPetrosian Tigran L.ARM25896,04264527571020,4
66GMArtemiev VladislavRUS26976,0426062732103,9
724GMLysyj IgorRUS26186,04259427191012,1
810GMSargissian GabrielARM26776,0425732699102,5
12GMKorobov AntonUKR26646,0425732702104,5
104GMMamedov RaufAZE27096,042555267610-3,7
1132GMParavyan DavidRUS26035,5525722655106,6
129GMKamsky GataUSA26775,552568264510-3,6
1329GMAlekseenko KirillRUS26095,5525572646104,7
1427GMKhalifman AlexanderRUS26145,54265827271014,1
1533GMBologan VictorMDA26005,54263527071013,2
165GMMatlakov MaximRUS27095,542599263910-7,4
1746IMTabatabaei M.AminIRI25775,5425782653109,7
1818GMMareco SandroARG26325,542524260610-2,8
1920GMZvjaginsev VadimRUS26295,542520259110-4,1
2026GMJumabayev RinatKAZ26145,542499259010-2,3
2171IMHakobyan AramARM24975,05261326551019,1
223GMAndreikin DmitryRUS27125,052586262810-10,4
237GMInarkiev ErnestoRUS26845,052563260510-9,9
2413GMPiorun KacperPOL26595,052557259710-7,7
2511GMSasikiran KrishnanIND26715,052552259610-9,4

Standings (Group B)

No.NameFideIDFEDRtg
1IMMoiseenko Vadim4123700RUS2547
2GMMozharov Mikhail4189825RUS2539
3IMMoskalenko Alexander4155351RUS2533
4Sviridov Valery4120680RUS2515
5GMKunte Abhijit5002265IND2499
6IMJarmula Lukasz1160664POL2498
7GMGasanov Eldar14104466UKR2490
8IMHarutyunian Tigran K.13303635ARM2488
9IMFlom Gabriel621650FRA2485
10GMPotapov Pavel4169786RUS2479
11GMRogozenco Dorian1210319ROU2479
12GMPapin Vasily4143183RUS2476
13GMVorotnikov Vladislav V4103009RUS2472
14IMZakhartsov Vladimir4145097RUS2472
15GMHayrapetyan Hovik13302639ARM2471
16GMKotanjian Tigran13301250ARM2466
17IMSeliverstov Vladimir4192036RUS2464
18GMLugovskoy Maxim24126454RUS2459
19IMAsadli Vugar13405764AZE2449
20IMHarsha Bharathakoti5078776IND2443
21GMDzhumaev Marat14200236UZB2439
22GMBaghdasaryan Vahe13303139ARM2436
23Li Yankai8609357CHN2434
24GMBalashov Yuri S4100263RUS2431
25Dai Changren8608156CHN2430

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.