The Aeroflot festival format has been changed. It starts with a Swiss Rapid qualifier (15 minutes+10 sec increment), which puts 32-players into second stage. Then, for light entertainment, there’s a blitz open Swiss with a $50,000 prize fund at 3mins+2 secs. The 32-players play KO two game minimatches with tiebreaks to put eight into a grand final. Places 9-16 get $1,500 each while 17-32 get $1,000 each.
In the grand final, eight stars meet the eight qualifiers in rapid KO matches with escalating prize money. The eight seeds are Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Shahriyar Mammadyarov. The winner gets $16,000, the finalist $10,000, semi-finalists $6,000, etc.
All this is packed into five days. The sponsors thought blitz/rapid is less “boring”. More likely, hosting a 12-day event would have stressed budgets. It is incidentally, the 980th anniversary of the founding of Aeroflot. Abhijeet Gupta is the lone Indian to make the 32-cut.
Meanwhile, in Baden-Baden, another chess centre with a great history, there’s a classical double Round-Robin. The six players are Anand, Caruana and Adams along with Naiditsch, Georg Meier and Danny Fridman. That is four 2700-plus GMs. It would be normal to expect the strong players to draw each other and focus on beating the two relatively weaker Germans. Instead, the six rounds have each seen one decisive result and it’s usually involved Naiditsch. Caruana (+2,=4) leads with 4 from 6. Anand (+1,=5) and Naiditsch (+3.-2,=1) share second on 3.5. .
The diagram, WHITE TO PLAY (Fridman Vs Naiditsch Baden Baden 2013) is the prelude to a spectacular sacrifice. What should white play? The natural move is 21.Bd3 Ndf3+! Even the engines under-rate this. 22.gxf3 Qd7! 23.Be2 Rf6 24.Nd5!
Alternatives A: 24.Ne3 Qh3 25.Ng4 Bxg4 26.fxg4 Raf8 or B: 24.f4 exf4 25. Nd5 fxg3 26. Nxf6 Qh3 both win for black. The ideas in the second variation are transposed in the game with 24--- .Rh6 25.f4 Nh3+ 26.Kg2 exf4 27.Bh2? This loses. The engines say 27.Nd4 but black has an attack and rough material equality then.
After 27...f3+! 28.Bxf3 Ng5 29.Nf4 Rxh2+! 30.Kxh2 Be5 ? The clincher was 30. --Qf7. Now white gets a chance with 31.Kg2 Bxf4 32.Rh1 Qg7 33.Kf1 Be6 34.Nd4 Bc4+ 35.Be2 Nxe4! 36.Bxc4? Last chance is 36.Rg1! when black is obviously better.
Naiditsch found 36...Nd2+ 37.Ke2 d5!! Anand said: “Very impressive.” It’s mate after 38.Bxd5 Re8+ 39. Kd3 Qg6+ 40. Kc3 Rc8 41. Bc6 Rxc6. Another win is 37...Nxc4. But not 37...Qxd4? 38.Rxh7+!! Kxh7 39.Qh1+. It ended after 38.Qc2 Re8+ 39.Kd1 Nxc4 40.Qc3 Re4 41.Nf5 Nxb2+ 42.Kc2 Re2+ 43.Kb3 Qxc3+ 44.Kxc3 Be5+ 45.Nd4 Re4 (0–1). The rook ending after 46. Kxb2 Bxd4+ is prosaically won.