The Aeroflot Open which has just finished in Moscow is traditionally a strong tournament and this year was no exception. Six players had ratings over 2700 and there were more than thirty above 2600 in the 100+ field. Incredibly, in such a strong tournament, first place went to a player seeded 62, the Estonian GM Kaido Kulaots. Today is his 43rd birthday so he and Vladimir Kramnik, who recently announced his retirement from competitive chess at the same age, must feel like ships passing in the night. Kaido’s victory has not gone unnoticed and one of the first to congratulate him was Magnus Carlsen:
“Congrats to Kaido Kulaots for an absolutely amazing underdog victory at the Aeroflot Open! 19 years ago, he shared a flat with my father and me at the Gausdal tournament, and inspired an unrated 9 year old by predicting that he would one day be rated 2650.”
The tournament got off to an extraordinary start when a bomb scare early in round one forced all the players and officials to vacate the venue and wait for hours outside in the freezing conditions while the organizers decided what to do. Eventually, once the players were allowed back in it was decided to begin round one again the next day with an adjusted time control. This proved to be a stroke of luck for Kaido for he admitted afterwards that ‘my position was not up to much at that point’ . The rearranged first game became the first of his five victories and he finished it in style. In the position below it is Black to play.
White: Parham Maghsoodloo (2666) Black: Kaido Kulaots (2542)
Aeroflot Open 2019
So, of the six players with ELO ratings above 2700, who was the top seed? Well, it’s our old – or not so old – friend, Wei Yi who, let’s not forget, is still only 19 although he seems to have been around forever. While it was no doubt disappointing not to win, he did manage to finish fifth with his only defeat to the eventual winner in round 7. He also played a couple of trademark sparkling games such as this one played in the final round.
White: Wei Yi (2733) Black: Daniil Yuffa (2578)
Aeroflot Open 2019