On the board, apparently. The ongoing Aeroflot Open is one of the strongest opens in the world. Its main attraction is the path to the Dortmund super-tournament for the winner.
The defending champion Vladimir Fedoseev had a fantastic last year, but also a few “almost-wins.” He almost won that same Dortmund super-tournament, lost in the final to Anand in the World Rapid Championship, and almost won the Russian superfinal after starting with 4/4.
This string of results gave Fedoseev infinite self-confidence. But a chess player has to keep himself under strict control. In case he doesn’t the self-confidence can inflate to over-confidence and even arrogance.
Before the tournament Fedoseev said he will attempt to win Aeroflot for a second time in a row (previously only Le Quang Liem achieved that). He feels that he belongs on the super-tournament circuit, but the invitations are still not coming, so the path to Dortmund again lies via Moscow.
Following Fedoseev’s games in Moscow, where he is the top seed, I found it difficult to understand how the ambition to win the tournament matched the way he played. In Round 1, playing Black against GM Vavulin (2575) he went for the Petroff Defence and drew. Then his openings and play started to get more weird. The apotheosis was the following game, played in Round 6, when he was forced to win in order to catch up with the leaders.
Humiliating and horrible. How can an aspiring elite player allow himself to play like this? I can only attribute it to the over-confidence (and maybe even arrogance) Fedoseev must have had, which gave him the impression that he could play as he wished and still win.
Another surprising moment is that Fedoseev has been working with Khalifman in the last 6 years or so and Khalifman is also playing in Moscow. How an experienced player and coach like Khalifman failed to curb Fedoseev’s impulses is another mystery.
To add insult to injury, Fedoseev continued in the same style (playing with Black he started the game 1 c4 Nc6 2 Nc3 e6 3 g3 g5?!?!) and lost in the next round to GM Romanov. He is definitely not going to Dortmund again this year.
Fedoseev is a wonderful player, but if he is to enter the elite such outbursts should be banned in the future. Together with Khalifman they will probably find a way, though missing opportunities like the one to go to Dortmund again is never a good thing.
On a sidenote, here’s another “idea” against the Najdorf. I wonder what will be next.
And here in the game Predke-Andreikin White played 6 Nf3. White is really getting desperate to find something against the Najdorf!