From February 19 until February 27, 2020, Kosmos Hotel in Moscow hosted one of the most prestigious Swiss tournaments in the word Aeroflot Open with the total prize fund of €120,000. The tournament A that brought together 97 players (mostly GMs) saw a sensational triumph of the Juniors U-14 Champion Aydin Suleymanli (Azerbaijan)
The young talent who doesn’t have the GM title yet was just 71st rated player in the starting list. Nevertheless, he went through the tournament unbeaten and shared the first place with Rinat Jumabayev (Kazakhstan), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan) and Aravindh Chithambaram (India). Moreover, thanks to better tiebreaks Aydin Suleymanli became the winner of the event.
In early rounds, another rising star, 12-year old (!) Bharath Subramaniyam from India started with three victories in four games defeating among others the “second-seeded” Gabriel Sargissian. In Round 5 he clashed with Rauf Mamedov – the more experienced player won confidently and took the lead. Although after the setback the Indian youngster was out of the race for the title, he finished with an excellent score 5.5/9 especially given his age and rating. Suffices it to say that he improved his live-rating by 35 points.
With 4.5 points after 5 games, Mamedov turned into a real favorite but by drawing his four last encounters he allowed three pursuers to catch up with him. His 14-year old compatriot was the first – playing in a highly original and entertaining style in the penultimate round, Suleymanli downed a young but already extremely strong Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo and reached a 6/8 mark. After the Azerbaijani leaders drew their last round game Aravindh and Jumabayev scored very important victories and joined them at the top of the final standings.
The players tied for the first place are ranked in the following order: Suleymanli, Jumabayev, Mamedov, Chithambaram. The key tiebreak indicator, used in Aeroflot Open is the number of games with black. The prize fund is divided according to the Hort system. Thus, Aydin Suleymanli received €13,875 for his first place. Many experts agree that this is one the most unexpected outcome of a Swiss tournament in recent years. The event will be remembered for its tough field and fierce competition throughout. Take as an illustration the performance by the only 2700+ rated player in the tournament Vladislav Artemiev – the rating-favorite did not take part in the battle for the main prizes and finished with a modest 5/9 score.
Tigran Harutyunian (Armenia), Nikita Afanasiev (Russia) and Stanislav Bogdanovich (Ukraine) tied for the first place in the tournament B with 7.5/9 each. Erdenepurev Boldoo (Mongolia) and Maksad Sapaev (Uzbekistan) shared the victory in the tournament C.
The next day after the completion of Aeroflot Open, a traditional blitz tournament with the prizes, established by the company group Region, was held. The participants of the Swiss tournaments A, B, and C were joined by the Russian chess stars, real blitz-experts Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin, and Daniil Dubov. As many expected, all three were among the main contenders for the first place.
Eventually, it all boiled down to a two-round showdown of Ian Nepomniachtchi and another rising star, 15-year old Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan). In the penultimate round, Nepomniachtich won his key micro-match against Karjakin 1.5:0.5 but Abdusattorov crushed Baadur Jobava 2:0 and caught up with Ian – both had 12.5/16.
In the final round, the leaders met over the board and drew both games but their competitors failed to draw up with them. As a result, Ian and Nodirbek had to play a tiebreak which was dominated by Nepomniachtch – he won both games and took the title. Nodirbek Abdusattorov is second; Baadur Jobava, Vladislav Artemiev, and Adhiban B. tied for third place. Karjakin and Dubov finished in a large group of players just a point behind the winners.
Aeroflot Russian Airlines is one of the oldest chess sponsors in the world. FIDE hopes that the cooperation between Aeroflot and the tournament organizers will continue for many years to come helping to discover new chess stars from all around the world.
Photo: Eteri Kublashvili