The 9th Aeroflot Open is taking place from February 9th to 18th, 2010, for the fifth year in succession in the tourist complex Izmailovo Hotel Gamma-Delta, where most of the participants also stay. The prize sum is EUR 180,000, including prizes for the World Blitz Qualification Tournament. Four Open Tournaments (A1, A2, B and C) are made up according to the rating of the participants. The A1 tournament has players with a rating of 2550 or higher.
Time controls: for tournament A1 and A2 it is 40 moves in 100 minutes, then 20 moves in 50 minutes, finally 15 minutes for the remaining moves, with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one. For tournaments B and C: 90 minutes for the whole game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one.
The Gamma-Delta, where the tournament is taking place. I stayed there in 1990. The complex was built for the 1980 Olympics, and can house 3,500 guests comfortably.
I have always been impressed with the security in Moscow. Here the dog is looking for explosives. The organization does not want any international embarrassments in the strongest open chess tournament of the year.
The opening ceremony, where everyone is introduced to the organizers, finds out about the rules and other important details. Mr. Bach, chief organizer of the Aeroflot tournaments.
Boris Spassky (right) is always an enthusiastic spectator. Chief arbiter Mr. Gijssen is very experienced.
And the race is on….
I intend to post during the next week some of the more entertaining and interesting games played in this great chess tournament. For today I have some snap shots of Gata Kamsky’s play. I think that he is one of the favourites in this tournament….despite losing in one of the early rounds.
POSTION AFTER BLACK’S 16th MOVE (16…E5!?)
Some bizarre opening play by both grandmasters has led to an interesting position that is roughly equal. The position reminds this writer of some of the typical antics one finds in the Alekhine Defence (1.e4 Nf6). Black is not afraid of White’s two Bishops and opens the centre, trying to catch the slightly disorganized White pieces off guard.
17. Nc4 (threatening Nd6, tickling the Black position) 17… ed 18. Nd6 Rxe1?!
An unfortunate decision, probably based on an excess of confidence in his position. Correct is the trench-warfare move :18… Re7! defending f7, and after 19. Nxb7 Qe8 Black has nothing to fear. Now the game becomes extremely sharp, and surprisingly, Black has problems…
19. Rxe1 Qf6
Undoubtedly Kamsky was confident here. Now Ehlvest finds some very strong tactics
20. Qg4! Nc5 (there is nothing better)
It almost looks as though Black is getting the better of it, but White has a big shot here! Do you see it?
21. Ne8! Ouch! It is easy to overlook this kind of move…
A very funny position! The White Knight on e8 is very annoying. Normally when I try to play originally ( like this) it all backfires horribly and I get into all sorts of trouble. But here, the tactics work perfectly for Ehlvest and Kamsky is at loss for a good move!
Now if Black plays the natural move, 21… Qd8, play would proceed 22. Nxg7! Nf6 23. Qf3 Kxg7 (23… dc 24. Bc4 Kxg7 25. Qxc3 is strong for White) 24. Be5! (Diagram, right) This pin is worth more than a mere pawn.24… dc 25. Bxc3 Nxd3 26. Rd1 and Black will have a horrible time unravelling his pieces.
So Kamsky must have thought a long time here, and the best he could find was giving up his Queen hoping to confuse his opponent:
21… Nxd3 !? 22. Nxf6 Nxf6 23. Qxd4 Nxe1
For the moment, Black has Rook and two minor pieces for the Queen, but the Knight on e1 can neither escape nor be protected. Ehlvest continues to put the Black position under pressure:
24… Nd5 (There is little better:24… c5 25. Qd1 Re8 26. f3 with advantage.) 25. Qe4
Black has a solid position and you would think that there must be some sort of way to build a type of fortress, but it is not evident how to do so. Normally in these kinds of positions (where there are pawns on both sides of the board) the initiative is the key factor in determining the play. And here the White Queen dominates all the other pieces…
Play continued 25… a4
Kamsky tries to do something on the Queenside. The alternative 25… Nxg2 26. Kxg2 b5
(trying to build that fortress) fails to 27. c4! bc 28. Qxc4 Rb8 29. b3
and White must be winning. 26. c4 Nc7 27. Qxe1 a3 28. ba Ne6 29. Qb4!
And after the smoke has cleared Black is just much worse. His Rook, especially , has no play (look at that monster Bishop on h4!) And then there is the question of how to defend Black’s Queen-side pawns…in the game Kamsky did not even try to defend them, and instead sought his salvation in complications. Ehlvest won handily. The remaining moves can be seen with the pgn Viewer , above.
It did not take long for Gata to come back and win a hard fought game.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 28th MOVE (28…Bg7)
Kamsky has played an interesting game up to this point, but has risked more than he should. Probably Black should have played 28…f4 on the last move, keeping a small edge. The American star does not want to give Black a second chance to play …f4, and he seizes upon the chance to change the direction of play with a surprising pawn advance, which analysis shows is good enough to keep the game in balance.
29. c5!? This creates a passed pawn no matter how Black plays.
How should Black take this pawn? I believe that taking with the d-pawn is the simplest way to maintain the balance. 29… dc!? 30. Qd2 (threatening to win with d6) 30… Qd6 (Diagram, below left) 31. Bxe5! Rxe5 (31… Bxe5? 32. Qe2 wins) 32. Rxe5 Bxe5 33. Qxg5 Kh8 and Black’s c-pawn is just as strong as White’s d-pawn. After 34. Qe3!? Bd4 35. Qe6 Rf6! (Diagram, below right) White can not make progress: 36. Qe8 Rf8 37. Qe2 Rf7 and it looks like peace will soon be signed.
29… bc This is also good enough to hold the balance. 30. Bxe5 Bxe5 31. Rxe5!?
Enterprising play! White will now get two dangerous passed pawns.
31… Rxe5 [31… de? 32. Qxc5 is much worse] 32. Rxe5 de 33. Qxc5
A wild position that is objectively even, though Black must play precisely to prevent the White pawns from becoming too strong. Correct at this point is either 33…g4 (breaking open the White King-side looking for a perpetual) or first 33…Qg7 followed by 34…g4. Combined with …e4 and/or …gxh3 Black will get a draw.
Instead, Black lost valuable time with:
33… Rd8?! This may stop the d-pawn, but not the b-pawn.
34. b6 Qd6 (it is too late for 34…Qg7 and 35…g4, as the reader can prove for himself)
Black wants to exchange Queens, when the White pawns can be stopped.
It is surprising, but White can get away with this! Now the a-pawn and b-pawn become real monsters! 35… e4 36. Qe1!
Essentially this ends the game! The White Queen falls back to hold the fort around his majesty, and simply advances his two Queen-side pawns. Black’s counterplay is more imaginary than real. Play continued for some more moves…
36… Qe5 37. a5 e3 38. a6 Qd4 39. b7 Kf7 40. Bb5 Qxd5 41. Be2 g4 42. hg fg 43. Bxg4 Qd4 44. Bf3 Rf8 45. Qg3 Kf6 46. a7
Touche! Kamsky has turned the game around with some creative play.
Black resigns since after 46… Qxa7 47. Qd6 Kg7 48. Qe7 Rf7 White has 49. Qe5! and the b-pawn Queens.
You don’t want to mess with the girl on the left!
How times have changed in Russia these past 20 years!
What would chessplayers do without their hands?