A day before his 43rd birthday, the Estonian grandmaster Kaido Kulaots surprised (and inspired!) by winning this year’s Aeroflot Open in Moscow, Russia. He got praise from many colleagues, including the world champion Magnus Carlsen.
Last week we covered the Aeroflot Open because of a bomb threat, and the first round being cancelled because of it. Luckily this “phone terrorism” didn’t get a followup. The tournament was resumed with a quicker time control so that rounds four and five could be played on the same day, and the schedule was back to normal after that.
When those five rounds were played, one participant was still on a perfect score: Krishnan Sasikiranof India. The 38-year-old GM from Chennai defeated Anton Korobov of Ukraine on Saturday evening in the second game of the day, using a quiet line against the Najdorf that he plays more often. Korobov played a typical exchange sacrifice on c3, which didn’t work this time.
Sasikiran couldn’t keep it going, and ended with three draws and a loss. The eventual tournament winner was the 42-year-old and 62nd-seeded Kulaots, who edged out another non-favourite on tiebreak (both reaching seven points): the 18-year-old GM Haik Martirosyan of Armenia.
The first prize of 18,000 euros and the second prize of 10,000 euros were divided according to the “Hort system,” where half of the money was distributed equally, and the other half according to standings. Thus, Kulaots received 7,000 + 9,000 = 16,000 euros and Martirosyan got 7,000 + 5,000 = 12,000 euros.
Kulaots, who is celebrating his 43rd birthday today, remained undefeated with four draws and five wins, four of which were scored with the black pieces. His first two wins were scored as Black in a Sicilian against two of Iran’s major talents: Parham Maghsoodloo and Alireza Firouzja.
Continuously alternating half-points as White and full points as Black, the Estonian GM then beat two more famous youngsters: Daniil Dubov of Russia and the top seed of the tournament, Wei Yi of China. To survive against, let alone beat Wei Yi with the black pieces, is quite an achievement.
Not sure what is more impressive: – winning Aeroflot unbeaten as a 2542 with 7/9 and 2872 performance. – beating Maghsoodloo, Firouzja, Dubov and Wei Yi with black during one tournament. #WellPlayedSir