Other Events: Aeroflot, Carlsen-Svidler, Ragger-Gelfand
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 12:05AM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2019 Aeroflot Open, Boris Gelfand, Magnus Carlsen, Markus Ragger, Peter Svidler

The Aeroflot Open is ongoing, and after 7 rounds of 9 there are three leaders: Kaido Kulaots, Krishnan Sasikiran, and Haik Martirosyan; each has 5.5 points. Sasikiran started 5-0, taking a full point lead over the field, which he maintained with his draw in round 6. In round 7 he was crushed by Martirosyan, however, and he was also caught by Kulaots when the latter won a long, strange game against Wei Yi. That game was equal for a long time, but Wei Yi didn't want to give up a draw with White against a GM rated 200 points below him. He got his wish, though not the way he wanted. Sometimes, we have to accept reality when we're higher-rated; wishing for a win won't make it so, even if we wish really, really hard.

Remarkably, despite the relatively low leading score, only four players in the 101-player field are within half a point of the leaders. Here are the top pairings for round 8:

Magnus Carlsen and Peter Svidler played a blitz match on Chess24, to go to the first player to win five games. (At least that's how I understood it. I think Svidler took it that the winner would be the first player to reach five points. It turns out that the match result didn't disconfirm either theory.) Carlsen won convincingly, winning the first two games, drawing game three, and then winning three in a row to go 5-0 in wins and 5.5-0.5 in overall score. Both players live-streamed the match, and since Carlsen decided to drop an F-bomb in his I'll let the readers look them up on their own. (No, I'm not scandalized by it, but why use that language for a presentation that would otherwise be suitable and even inspiring for little kids?)

Finally, in a match that slipped under my radar until I caught wind of it in tonight's TWIC download, Austrian #1 Markus Ragger took on and crushed Boris Gelfand 4.5-1.5, winning games 1, 2, and 6 while drawing the rest. Gelfand's rating has taken a relatively big hit the last year and a half. (He was 2737 in September of 2017; after this match, he'll be down to 2660. It would have been 2655, but because Ragger had clinched match victory before the last game it wasn't rated.) Hopefully it is the pull of family life rather than a loss of ability that has taken its toll.

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (http://www.thechessmind.net/).
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