As all of you probably know by now, Polish grandmaster Mateusz Bartel took first on tiebreaks at the 2012 Aeroflot Open and won an automatic place in this summer's Dortmund super-GM event. He played five games with Black, while Ukranians Anton Korobov and Pavel Eljanov (second and third, respectively) had five white games in the nine rounds. Korobov led much of the way, but had a big setback in round 7 when he lost to Eljanov. In round 9 he had his chances with White against Bartel. His pawn sac on move 21 was good, but 23.d6 seems to have been inaccurate, and after that Bartel managed to hold on.
Those three had 6.5 points, half a point ahead of five players. In tie-break order, 4th-8th places were taken by Alexander Khalifman, Maxim Rodshtein, Fabiano Caruana, Hrant Melkumyan and Dmitry Andreikin.
For Khalifman, this was probably his best tournament in quite some years. In his youth he was considered a tremendous talent, and despite some years of underperformance and having already semi-retired he managed to win the FIDE K.O. World Championship in 1999, defeating Dibyendu Barua (by far his lowest-rated opponent and toughest match!), Gata Kamsky, Karen Asrian, Boris Gelfand, Judit Polgar, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Vladimir Akopian. Since then his main claim to fame has been his work as an openings book author (the repertoire books "according to Anand" (and Kramnik, and - a long time ago - Karpov), but every once in a while he shows a little ambition and reminds the chess world of what he can do.
I'll also single out Caruana, who was the second seed here. With White he was devastating, but with Black he lost to Korobov in round four and - horribly - to Bartel in round seven, and couldn't quite catch up.
The top seed, Evgeny Tomashevsky, finished in 17th (tied for 9th-25th with 5.5 points). He went undefeated, but was unable to convert several clearly better positions into victories. Still, by comparison with some other elite players, that result was a success. Two-time defending champion Le Quang Liem never managed to get on track, and finished with a disappointing 4-5 score. It's a brutally tough open, as Le finished one spot ahead (on tiebreaks) of another 2700, Francisco Vallejo Pons.
It has been a while since I've presented any games here, so I'll rectify that a bit with two offerings. First, the Bartel-Caruana blowout from round 7, and second a peculiar Schliemann from the final round. Black tried a line I've never seen before, and I don't expect to see it ever again. Still, as someone has played the variation off and on for a very long time I'm intrigued. How often do you see a new try on move five, especially in a line you know - or thought you knew - very well??