Spectactular Start 8th Tal Memorial

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  • on 6/13/13, 2:06 PM.

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!

21st century commentary in the playing hall with lots of screens and top GMs
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."

Magnus Carlsen showing his game to the audience

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.

Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Mark Gluhovsky, Boris Gelfand & Sergey Karjakin

2013 Tal Memorial | Results & pairings

Round 1 15:00 MSK 13.06.13   Round 2 15:00 MSK 14.06.13
Andreikin ½-½ Morozevich   Morozevich - Mamedyarov
Anand 0-1 Caruana   Kramnik - Nakamura
Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik   Caruana - Gelfand
Nakamura 0-1 Mamedyarov   Andreikin - Anand
Round 3 15:00 MSK 15.06.13   Round 4 15:00 MSK 17.06.13
Anand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Kramnik
Gelfand - Andreikin   Karjakin - Mamedyarov
Carlsen - Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Nakamura - Karjakin   Andreikin - Carlsen
Mamedyarov - Kramnik   Anand - Gelfand
Round 5 15:00 MSK 18.06.13   Round 6 15:00 MSK 19.06.13
Gelfand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Karjakin
Carlsen - Anand   Caruana - Kramnik
Nakamura - Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Anand - Nakamura
Kramnik - Karjakin   Gelfand - Carlsen
Round 7 15:00 MSK 21.06.13   Round 8 15:00 MSK 22.06.13
Carlsen - Morozevich   Morozevich - Caruana
Nakamura - Gelfand   Andreikin - Karjakin
Mamedyarov - Anand   Anand - Kramnik
Kramnik - Andreikin   Gelfand - Mamedyarov
Karjakin - Caruana   Carlsen - Nakamura
Round 9 13:00 MSK 23.06.13        
Nakamura - Morozevich        
Mamedyarov - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Anand        
Caruana - Andreikin        

2013 Tal Memorial | Round 1 standings

# Player Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Points SB
1 Carlsen,M 2864 * 1 1.0/1 0.00
2 Caruana,F 2774 * 1 1.0/1 0.00
3 Mamedyarov,S 2753 * 1 1.0/1 0.00
4 Karjakin,S 2782 * ½ 0.5/1 0.25
5 Morozevich,A 2760 * ½ 0.5/1 0.25
6 Gelfand,B 2755 ½ * 0.5/1 0.25
7 Andreikin,D 2713 ½ * 0.5/1 0.25
8 Kramnik,V 2803 0 * 0.0/1 0.00
9 Anand,V 2786 0 * 0.0/1 0.00
10 Nakamura,H 2784 0 * 0.0/1 0.00

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.

9922 reads 31 comments
10 votes


  • 3 years ago


    Thank you very much for pairing the players' comments with the relevant moves on the boards. Great coverage of this monster tournament.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for a rich and lively coverage. Love it! Finally Carlsen beat Kramnik in the classical after a while and he imporves his head-to-head record against Kramnik just a little bit: +5-4=12.

    According to Wikipedia, their head-to-head record against each other as of May 27, 2013 was +4-4=12.

  • 3 years ago


    You've got to know your B+RP endgame theory to understand a bit of what was going on in the Carlsen-Kramnik endgame

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks a lot for the ChessVibes notes in the games. Awesome to see the player comments.

  • 3 years ago


    At top GM levels, theres no 2...Ne4 trompowsky?

    From what I see from Carlsen's game and Nakamura/Ivanchuk's blitz games, many opponents avoid the "main Line".

  • 3 years ago


    At least Norway Chess had english commentary...

  • 3 years ago


    Nice coverage! The off.website is less impressive - but so was the norwegian site under"Norway Chess 2013"...

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