Spectactular Start 8th Tal Memorial
The first round of the 8th Tal Memorial lived up to its expectations, with three decisive games and lots of excitement. The top encounter between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, the two players who tied for first at the London Candidates Tournament in March, ended in the Norwegian's favour. Fabiano Caruana, who finished last in the blitz tournament on Wednesday, defeated none other than Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces. And Hikaru Nakamura, the convincing winner of the blitz, lost very quickly against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov!
Peter Svidler & Alexander Grischuk explaining the games
While yesterday's blitz tournament might be a poor predictor for the main tournament, the pairings of the latter were a direct result of the former. And so it happened that the first round immediately saw the biggest match-up possible: world number one Magnus Carlsen against world number three Vladimir Kramnik. (Unfortuantely, #2 Levon Aronian is not playing in Moscow.) It was the first time Carlsen and Kramnik faced each other at the board since the Candidates tournament in London, where the Norwegian edged out his Russian rival on tiebreak to qualify for the next title match.
Back then, Carlsen didn't get anything with White in an English Opening. This time he switched to a strategy that fits him more: avoid theory! At the press conference he said:
"Usually I don't get much in my white games against Vladimir, so I tried to play something a bit non-theoretical and be the first to surprise."
So, does this mean that Carlsen is already hiding his opening preparation? Carlsen's answer to that question was:
"As you saw today, the emphasis was not really on winning in the opening. As long as I'm in good form, and I have a good attitude towards the games, I can do very well. It may not depend too much on opening preparation. I probably won't play all my ideas for the World Championship here, but that's probably because I don't know what they are yet! For me the present tournament is always the most important one so that's what I'm going to focus on for the next week or so."
Viswanathan Anand's loss to Fabiano Caruana was reason for Spanish grandmaster Miguel Illescas to tweet:
"MOSCOW: Anand and Kramnik lose to Caruana and Carlsen. End of an era?"
Well, that remains to be seen but it's interesting to note that both games were decided in an ending. Perhaps fatigue played a role in these games!? In any case, Caruana played a splendid game with Black, which included a great pawn sacrifice and instructive play with the bishop pair.
The third decisive game was actually the first to finish. Hikaru Nakamura was nowhere close to his form of the other day, when he killed almost the complete field at 3 minutes (and 2 seconds). In a Ragozin, the American gave Shakhriyar Mamedyarov too much freedom to develop and one or two more inaccurate moves led to a crisis on the kingside.
Especially the opening phase of the game Dmitry Andreikin vs Alexander Morozevich was very interesting. A Sicilian Dragon is always a welcome guest, isn't it? In the Yugoslav Attack without Bc4, the players followed quite some theory and quickly reached an ending where White was better. Morozevich had to give a pawn but could liquidate to a rook ending and managed to hold it.
Morozevich and Andreikin at the press conference
The third clash of generations (compare Carlsen-Kramnik and Anand-Caruana), Boris Gelfand versus Sergey Karjakin, was less exciting. In this Catalan, the theoretical repetition at move 11 almost put a premature end to this game. Gelfand decided to continue and got some advantage, but Karjakin was solid as a rock.
2013 Tal Memorial | Results & pairings
|Round 1||15:00 MSK||13.06.13||Round 2||15:00 MSK||14.06.13|
|Round 3||15:00 MSK||15.06.13||Round 4||15:00 MSK||17.06.13|
|Round 5||15:00 MSK||18.06.13||Round 6||15:00 MSK||19.06.13|
|Round 7||15:00 MSK||21.06.13||Round 8||15:00 MSK||22.06.13|
|Round 9||13:00 MSK||23.06.13|
2013 Tal Memorial | Round 1 standings
The 8th Tal Memorial takes place June 12-23, 2013 at the technology center Digital October in Moscow, Russia. The total prize fund is 100,000 EUR. The official website is providing live games, streaming video and commentary in Russian by GMs Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Sergey Rublevsky and Sergey Shipov. The games start each day at 15:00 local time which is 16:00 CET, 10:00 EDT and 07:00 PDT. The last round starts two hours earlier. Photos © Eteri Kublashvili courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation. Games via TWIC.