The Aeroflot Chess Festival started in 2002 and is one of the world's premier open events. In 2016, 67 of the 86 participants in the "A" Group were grandmasters, while 16 of the 94 participants in the "B" Group were grandmasters. The "C" Group had a further 64 participants to bring up a total of 244 participants. The organizers were Aeroflot Airlines, the Russian Chess Federation and the Association of Chess Federations.
In the Hotel Cosmos in Moscow.
Tuesday 1 March to Wednesday 9 March 2016.
Swiss-style format with nine rounds.
The time control for the "A" Group was 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from the first.
1. The number of games played with Black pieces. Byes and forfeited games will be considered as games played with White.
2. The average of the opponents ratings minus the highest and the lowest rating.
The total prizemoney for the "A" Group was €65,000 (nearly US $71,000) and distributed as follows:
<1st Prize> €18,000 <6th - 10th Prizes> €1,700 each
<2nd Prize> €10,000 <11th-15th Prizes> €1,200 each
<3rd Prize> €7,000 <16th-20th Prizes> €700 each
<4th Prize> €4,000 <21st-30th Prizes> €500 each
<5th Prize> €3,000
There were also special prizes for the best performance by seniors, women and juniors.
Opening Day was 29 February.
The draw for round one included 42 grandmasters paired on the top 21 boards. There were few surprises in the first round as the high ratings for this group precluded major upsets. There were 25 winners in the first round, some notable results being Goryachkina's draw with Sasikiran, Wei Yi's loss to Potkin and Jobava's loss to Goganov.
The second round saw five joint leaders emerge: Vallejo, Najer, Wen Yang, Petrosian and Goganov. Wei Yi was in the tail end of the field at this early stage with a second round draw against Lorparizangeneh who was rated nearly 300 points lower, while Anton Guijarro (2641) lost his second successive game and was the highest rated player to be sitting on an "egg". Artemiev (2674) and Moiseenko (2668) were the highest rated players to lose a game in the second round. Of the five women competing in the event, only IM Shen Yang (2466) had an even score, with one point out of two. The other four, Goryachkina, Lei Tingjie, Kovalevskaya and Karavade were all on half a point.
The third round saw Najer emerge as the sole leader of the event with his win over Petrosian to maintain his perfect score. There was a trailing pack of six players on 2.5 points. Apart from Petrosian the other leaders from round two all drew their games in this round. Wei Yi won his first game of the event playing black against Goryachkina, who still only had a draw to her credit after three rounds and was languishing at the bottom of the table. Shen Yang drew her game against Motylev, while Lei Tingjie defeated Bartosz Socko for both women to be on 1.5 after three rounds. Anton Guijarro lost his third successive game, this time to the young Indian GM Aravindh, to be one of three players yet to score.
The fourth round saw Najer retaining his lead, if not his perfect score following his draw against Maxim Matlakov. All six players in the trailing pack drew all their games to remain half a point behind Najer. A number of players in the third tier of results (ie: 2 points after round 3) won their games and joined the pack chasing Najer, namely Gelfand, Sjugirov, Fedoseev, Zvjaginsev, Rakhmanov and Grachev to bring up a total of twelve players on second. None of the women won their third round games and remain located in the lower end of the field, although the Chinese contingent of Lei Tingjie and Shen Yang both performed at or above rating with TPRs of over 2500 while the others scored only slightly under rating. Anton Guijarro finally got off the mark with a draw against IM Karavade. The only player in the field still to score was the lowest seeded player, CM Erigaisi (2379).
Round five and Najer (4/5) retained the sole lead despite another draw, this time with top seed Boris Gelfand. The entire chasing pack of twelve players that were on 3 points after round four drew their games, and were joined by three third tier players on 2.5 who won their games, namely Axel Bachmann who upset second seed Korobov, as well as Vladislav Artemiev and Robert Hovhannisyan to enlarge the pack chasing Najer to fifteen players on 3.5/5. Korobov and Cordova were the only players rated above 2600 who lost a game in this round. Wei Yi joined the third tier on 3/5 after his win over Esipenko (2445), and Goryachkina's poor form continued with another loss, this time to Wang Yiye (2445). Of the other women, Lei Tingjie and Shen Yang maintained their rating plus performances with draws against higher rated players, while Kovaletskaya (2462) drew with Kulaots (2578). Bottom placed Erigaisi remained on zero after losing to Anton Guijarro, who thereby scored his first win.
Round six: another draw by Najer, this time against Vallejo Pons, allowed Gelfand, Bartel and Matlakov from the massive chasing pack to catch up with wins and to share the lead with 4.5/6. A number of highly seeded players lost in this round, most notably Wei Yi to Kobalia and Artemiev to a resurgent Bartel who now shared the lead. All the women drew their games with higher rated players apart from Karavade who defeated GM Debashis and Goryachkina who drew against a lower rated player.
Round seven: the front runners all drew their games as did the chasing pack, barring Fedoseev who defeated Bachmann to join the lead with 5/7. There were now five players sharing the lead, and a group of 15 that were a half point behind. Wei Yi won his third game of the event when he beat Alekseenko. Four of the five women drew with higher rated opponents, while the fifth, Goryachkina, defeated Firouzja to record her first win of the event.
The top end of the field thinned considerably in round eight with the top 20 within half a point of each other now reduced to nine players in that top margin. Najer regained the sole lead with a win as Black over Fedoseev, and was the only player in the leading five to win a game. High profile losses in this round included Inarkiev, Vallejo, Korobov, Moiseenko and Swiercz. The results for the five women were a mixed bag with Lei Tingjie defeating Antipov, Eesha Karavade defeating Vasiliy Korchmar and Shen Yang drawing with Kulaots, but Goryachkina crashed to her fourth defeat to Vitaly Kunin while Kovaleskaya lost to Oparin. Tailender Erigaisi broke his string of losses to record his first result, a win against GM Debashis.
The final round saw Gelfand win his game to draw level with Najer, who drew. Apart from the Gelfand, all the players who started the round with 5.5 points and who were in equal second place drew their games, allowing Najer and Gelfand to pull clear of the field. Najer had the better tiebreak and thereby won the tournament ahead of Gelfand. Wei Yi drew his game with Petrosian to finish with 5/9 and equal 21st, barely remaining within the "2700 club" with a live rating of 2700.3 at the close of play. Lei Tingjie was the top placed woman in the event, with 4/9 (+2 -3 =4) against nine GMs and a near GM rating norm result. Goryachkina's last round win against IM Swayams left her with 3.5/9 and she thereby managed to remain 2500+, with the loss of only six rating points.
Previous event: Aeroflot Open (2015). Next: Aeroflot Open (2017)