2013 Moscow Aeroflot likely to be best remembered for controversies
The Guardian, Friday 22 February 2013 17.55 EST
Moscow Aeroflot has been the world’s strongest open for a decade but its 2013 edition this week will be remembered for its time-limit controversies.
The event had an impressive $150,000 prize fund, yet lasted fewer days amid rumours of cost-cutting at the Russian airline. Its time control changed from classical chess (4-6 hours per game) to blitz (20 minutes) and rapid (45 minutes). Most of the Russian grandmaster elite still competed, though some Western GMs switched to Gibraltar.
In one strange incident the United States No2, Gata Kamsky, beat an opponent 2-1 with all three games ending with king, bishop and knight against king. Anatoly Karpov, the former world champion, was captured on video castling queen’s side illegally, moving the rook before the king. In the final blitz round Peter Svidler, six-time Russian champion, was poised for first prize until his clock malfunctioned in a winning position and he lost on time.
The rapid format was two-game mini-matches, in which 1-1 meant an Armageddon decider where White had five minutes on the clock, Black four, but a draw counted as a win for Black.
Sergey Karjakin and Alex Grischuk met in the rapid final and their Armageddon came down to a few seconds each. Karjakin was ahead on the board but chose to play for a win on time. Pieces were knocked over, Grischuk moved using both hands then fumbled a capture, and Karjakin, with only rook for queen, won by two seconds.
The same pair had met in another Armageddon final a few weeks earlier, when Grischuk was a rook up but allowed a stalemate draw. Armageddon rules allow a per move time increment but this kicked in only at move 60, too late for Grischuk.
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