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Aeroflot 03-08: Indians stay solid

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 08/03/2016

With an average rating of 2585 in the A-category, higher than even Qatar Masters's 2529, Aeroflot Open 2016 is right there among the handful of chess events to look forward to. A platoon of Indians has made its way through the freezing cold of Moscow to play in this tournament. We bring you an update on India's best performers so far in this illustrated report.

Photos by Amruta Mokal

Aeroflot 03-08: Indians stay solid

The 13th edition of the Aeroflot Open 2016 is being held in Moscow, Russia from the 29th of February to 10th of March 2016. The official hotel of the event is Cosmos and the playing venue is also located at the same place. There are three tournaments that are simultaneously taking place: The A Group (2550 and above), that has only 83 players of which 09 are Indians; the B Group (2300 and above), and the C Group (below 2300).


With an average rating of 2585 in the A-category, higher than even Qatar Masters's 2529, Aeroflot Open 2016 is right there among the handful of chess events to look forward to. And not just in terms of strength, the tournament carries a tradition so rich that it can be matched only by itself.


No wonder Indians made a beeline for playing this tournament. Our absolute top players aren't participating, but we do have a huge contingent in play -- a handful of titled players and also some young turks.

The vast and expansive Hotel Cosmos

The playing arena

Five grandmasters share the lead in the A-category with 5.0/7: Gelfand, Najer, Fedoseev, Matlakov and Polish GM Mateusz Bartel (in the picture).

Our best hope GM Krishnan Sasiskiran (2637) is unbeaten and has been our leading performer with 4.5/7, in joint second place with fifteen other contenders.

GM Lalith Babu (2573) is displaying excellent chess and is on 4.0/7.

Here, he found a neat trick to beat the 12-year-old Iranian Men's Champion Alireza Firouzja (2475)

Speaking of young talents, GM Aravindh Chithambaram (2506) is having a topsy-turvy tournament.

After losing two straight games in the first two rounds, the Chennai lad came back nicely to beat GM Anton Guijarro (2641) in the third round.

In the seventh round, he played out a fine endgame against GM Vitaly Kunin (2584):

[Event "Aeroflot Open A 2016"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2016.03.07"]
[Round "7.28"]
[White "Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr"]
[Black "Kunin, Vitaly"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B29"]
[WhiteElo "2506"]
[BlackElo "2584"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2016.03.01"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Nc3 Nxc3 5. dxc3 Nc6 6. Bf4 Qb6 7. b3 Qc7 8.
Qd2 e6 9. O-O-O h6 10. h4 b6 11. Qe3 Bb7 12. Nd2 Ne7 13. Nc4 Nd5 14. Qg3 b5 15.
Nd6+ Bxd6 16. exd6 Qa5 17. Be5 O-O-O 18. c4 Nb4 19. cxb5 f6 20. Bc3 Nxa2+ 21.
Kb2 Qxc3+ 22. Qxc3 Nxc3 23. Kxc3 g5 24. f3 Rhg8 25. hxg5 hxg5 26. Be2 f5 27. b4
cxb4+ 28. Kxb4 g4 29. c4 gxf3 30. Bxf3 Bxf3 31. gxf3 {This is a highly
interesting rook endgame. White's advantage is obvious because of his active
king. Let's have a look at how the talented Indian grandmaster converts this
into a fine victory.} Kb7 $2 (31... Rg2 $1 {Trying for counterplay was the
right way to go.} 32. c5 Rb2+ 33. Kc4 Rc2+ 34. Kd4 Rb2 35. Rb1 Rd2+ 36. Kc3 Rd5
37. Kc4 Rd2 $18 {This was the way to give maximum resistance but the position
is still pretty much hopeless for Black.}) 32. Rh7 Rg2 33. c5 Rb2+ 34. Kc4 (34.
Ka4 $1 {White wins because c6+ is unstoppable now.} Kc8 35. c6 $18) 34... Rc2+
35. Kd4 e5+ 36. Kd5 e4 37. fxe4 fxe4 38. c6+ Kc8 39. Kxe4 Rc5 (39... dxc6 40.
Rc7+ Kb8 41. bxc6 $18) 40. Ra1 Rxb5 41. Rxa7 {The material is minimum but
White's co-ordination is maximum!} Re8+ 42. Re7 Rb4+ 43. Kd3 Rb3+ 44. Kc2 Rxe7
45. Ra8+ (45. dxe7 Re3 46. cxd7+ $18) 45... Rb8 46. dxe7 {A nice endgame by
Aravindh.} 1-0


Overview of the Indian performance:

IM Sagar Shah is playing the B-category and is on 4.5/07.

11-year-old Praggnanandhaa R. (2339) is on the way to his second IM-norm after scoring a win over GM Levon Babujian

Overview of the Indian performance:


IM Sameer Kathmale (2216) is playing in both the B and C categories. He is in joint lead in the C-category with 6.5/8.



Pairings for Round 08:




Games in PGN: