Aeroflot: Impressions and Puzzles

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Feb 15, 2011

Aeroflot is the strongest open chess tournament in the world. This year’s edition is the 10th. The four  main features of the festival are:

  • A group (players over 2550 with a few exceptions – female stars, prodigies, etc.)
  • B group – strong players rated between 2300 and 2550
  • C group – amateurs below 2300
  • World Blitz Championship Qualification – a nine double-round event featuring some of the world’s finest blitz players wishing to qualify for the Final and win prizes (€10,000 for 1st)

The winner of the main event gets €20,000 and the coveted invitation to the Dortmund super-tournament. As it is quite hard to obtain the lucky ticket to such an elite event, many top pros are willing to take a chance. Among the 86 players of the A group, there are two ex-FIDE World Champions (Kasimzhanov and Khalifman), an ex-Women’s FIDE World Champion (Kosteniuk), five 2700+ grandmasters (Kamsky, Movsesian, Jakovenko, Vachier-Lagrave, Vitiugov) and over 40 (!) 2600+ players. The defending champion, Le Quang Liem (2664), is also taking part and leading the tournament so far.


Playing hall (photo by Anna Burtasova) 


GM Ivan Salgado (Spain) preparing hard to play against Alexandra Kosteniuk (photo by Anna Burtasova)

A focused Ivan Cheparinov (2665), both a strong GM and Topalov's second (photo by Sergey Sorokhtin)

Alexander Khalifman believes chess is a draw, and is the only player who drew all his six games so far (photo by Sergey Sorokhtin)

The fragile Nazi Paikidze (2455) may not be a rating favorite, but male spectators still approach her board quite often (photo by Sergey Sorokhtin)

For a number of reasons, so far I haven’t been doing well at the tournament. However, even playing at the low, relatively unprestigious boards, I had good company around me: GM Daniele Vocaturo (who has just won Tata Steel C, and is in clear last at Aeroflot so far); ex-Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, Norwegian prodigy and’s member GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (2647) and other well-known and strong grandmasters.

Mikhail Kobalia (2666) analyzing his game vs Evgeny Tomashevsky (2695). Yan Nepomniatchi (2733) and IM Mikhail Nedochetov as kibitzers (photo by Sergey Sorokhtin)


Rating favorite Gata Kamsky (2730) got himself a special "Soviet army" haircut (photo by Anna Burtasova)


Daniel Vocaturo (2570) with 0.5/6 is hiding his sorrows under the cap (photo by Anna Burtasova)

The atmosphere at the event is warm and friendly. Most participants stay at the hotel in the same building as the playing venue and get to socialize with each other. Unfortunately, there is no commentary or press room, and relatively few spectators. Just the playing hall, analysis room, and a few stands with chess goods. Nonetheless, one can often meet interesting visitors whose names should be recognized by all chess fans – Mark Dvoretsky, Artur Jussupow, Igor Glek, Ruslan Ponomariov, Sergei Karjakin, Yan Nepomniatchi, etc. Even at one of the local supermarkets you can still see familiar faces. When trying to buy a few special lime drinks there today, I met a cheerful Wesley So, who decided to quit the tournament after drawing five games and losing one against lower-rated opponents.

Now let’s take a funny and extremely instructive challenge. Imagine yourself in the crowded hall of Aeroflot, while all the exciting matches are happening before your eyes. You have the chance to come up with the correct solutions faster than the grandmasters themselves. Here are a few interesting picks:






There are also more important things than chess. Enjoy the St.Valentine's Day & spend it with your loved ones! Wink


  • 7 months ago



  • 12 months ago

    NM Assasin14

    well, bembebembe in your varation he doesn't have to go, 5....Kh8. If 5...Kg8 it's a draw because when the white K goes to h6 black K goes to h8

  • 3 years ago


    In Hammer v Sethuraman, why does white abandon the non-rook pawn (which I believe can always be pushed through by force in king and pawn v king) for a rook pawn (which cannot be forced if black gets to A8)?  In other terms, what resource does black have to thwart the queening effort at B8?

  • 3 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3

  • 5 years ago


    in first game 18th move Rd8..I cannot understand ...pls reply

    Please be relevant, helpful & nice!

  • 6 years ago


    @TRS & Talec: U would meet an easy mate via 19Qf7+ King h8 there was forced. Then white move Qg8+! black only answer is Rxg8. And then Nf7#


  • 6 years ago


    I have re started my game where i can challange any player

  • 6 years ago


    I enjoy all the diagrams,very interesting.Regards

  • 6 years ago


    Very interesting article, very good games level, thanx for sharing...

  • 6 years ago


    Hope WGM Natalia fares better next year (!?).

  • 6 years ago


    I liked the whole theme.  Very informative and I liked the openings there seemed to be a lot of the same type.  well done and thank you.

  • 6 years ago


    @Kingwraith : unfortunately Black has Kxg8 (instead of Rxg8) avoiding the smothered mate.

  • 6 years ago


    This was a very enjoyable article.  I really enjoyed the nice mix of a bit of everything - tourney report, pics, games, puzzles, and comments.  Thank you very much.  Well done.

  • 6 years ago


    interesting but where are the other great masters?! anand kramnik tupalov ivanchuk...

  • 6 years ago


    Really great article - a good feel for the event, great pics, and some great puzzles from live games - thank you!!

  • 6 years ago


    @etourneau:  Because it's mate in 3 if 18. Rxd8 Qf7+ 19.Kh8 Qg8+ 20.Rxg8 Nf7#.

  • 6 years ago


    NICE SMILE ! Хорошее настроение - главный фактор шахматной силы. Вспомним

    хотя бы незабвенного Остапа. Я и сам ,когда в настроении Smile играю где то на

    уровне  3000 ЭЛО , а когда  нет Frown - где то  на - 2000.Самым опасным современ-

    ным шахматистом считаю Левона  Ароняна - он  часто смеёться . Так что неде-

    лайте культа из рейтингов,часще одевайте белые брюки, или хотя бы шапки ,а

    рейтинги сами повысятся. С любовью  из города Солнца / SUN CITY /.Сын ту-

    редского поданного.....

  • 6 years ago


    parang dalaga pa.

  • 6 years ago


    Everything seems to be OK

  • 6 years ago


    "I dont wanna ruin the atmosphere guys, but someone can explain me why in the first article game (Korobov vs Vocaturo) the black rook didn't take the white rook (move 18th) ?"


    I wondered why as well; I don't know but here's a variation :

    18...Rxd8 19.Qf7+ Kh8 20.Qe7 Bd7 (only move it seems) 21.Nf7+ Kg8 22.Nxd8 Rxd8 (again, forced, the threat is Qf7+) 23.Qxd8+ Kf7 and white is an exchange up, for a pawn, but the attack goes on. I suppose Vocaturo didn't want this position.


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