Boris Gelfand Takes the Trophy in Moscow
Tomorrow he turns 45, and today he got himself a great birthday present. Boris Gelfand won the 8th Tal Memorial on Sunday in Moscow, and with it the golden trophy and the € 30,000 (US $39,420) first prize. Gelfand, who was the oldest participant, finished on 6/9 and a performance rating of exactly 2900. Magnus Carlsen finished second and took home € 20,000 (US $26,280) after drawing his game with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the last round Hikaru Nakamura suffered his third straight loss, to Alexander Morozevich.
Going into the last round, Gelfand was half a point ahead of Carlsen. Facing Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces - a man he had never beaten with black in classical chess - Gelfand was probably happy with a draw. He got it, easier than expected. The opening was a (very) Symmetrical English, and Black's important 12...Qb6 was in fact a move Kramnik had once played himself, in a rapid game with Vassily Ivanchuk. It looks like White has nothing better there than swapping everything, and that's what happened.
Magnus Carlsen now needed to beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to finish equal with Gelfand. In that case the Norwegian would have won the tournament on the second tiebreak rule: number of wins. (Yes, the same infamous tiebreak as the Candidates Tournament in London had.) However, Gelfand never really needed to worry, because if anyone would win that game it was Mamedyarov.
In a Fianchetto King's Indian with ...Bf5, the Azeri sacrificed a pawn in the opening and Carlsen didn't react well to it. Then, instead of Mamedyarov's automatic 17.Kg2, the move 17.Bb2! looks winning, and so both players had reasons to be disappointed at the press conference. Carlsen:
"I was looking for ways to complicate the game but probably it is much more dangerous for Black than it is for White. Certainly I underestimated the idea of the pawn sacrifice. I missed a number of things (...) Obvjectively, I was lucky to survive."
Hikaru Nakamura's tournament finished horribly: the American also lost his last game, the third in a row. After round six he was still the proud leader, but eventually he finished on sixth place. On Sunday the American went down against Alexander Morozevich in a sideline of the Queen's Gambit Declined, after he had his chances in the middlegame. Black kept a passed pawn on c3, but weakened his kingside with ...h6 and ...g5. Nakamura tried to break it apart with h4 and Rg4, but soon his own king got into trouble. Trading the queens didn't help either; White lost an exchange and then the game.
Should have converted a winning position today, but after 4 tournaments in a row, sometimes it all becomes too much.— Hikaru Nakamura ( @GMHikaru) June 23, 2013
Win or lose, I play only for the fans and no one else. if they got the excitement they wanted then I am happy.— Hikaru Nakamura ( @GMHikaru) June 23, 2013
Some openings guarantee spectacle, and the Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf is one of them. But, as it goes these days with sharp openings, the computer engines have analyzed many lines to equality. For top players who have the Najdorf on their repertoire, it's mainly a matter of remembering everything. This was certainly the case with the game Sergey Karjakin versus Viswanathan Anand. About the position after 16...Kxf7, the World Champion said:
"Here I reflected that this was one of the most ridiculous positions I can imagine. I mean, Black is not even sligthy lost looking, he looks completely busted! Castling with check, king g8, light squares, queen coming to g4, it looked completely busted except I happened to know it's drawn!"
Fabiano Caruana and Dmitry Andreikin finished their tournament with a draw. The Russian grandmaster played the Deferred Steinitz and completed his development using only three ranks. Because Black threatened ...d6-d5, Caruana decided to push d4-d5 himself, when the game started to look like a King's Indian. Caruana missed Andreikin's 18...Nh5! (reminiscent of Spassky-Fischer, Reykjavik 1972) and was on the defensive side from that moment. When a pair of rooks went off the board, the worse was over for the Italian, who finished third in the tournament.
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 | Final standings
The 8th Tal Memorial took place June 12-23, 2013 at the technology center Digital October in Moscow, Russia. The total prize fund was 100,000 EUR. The official website provided live games, streaming video and commentary in Russian by GMs Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Sergey Rublevsky, Sergey Shipov, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxim Dlugy. Photos © Eteri Kublashvili courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation. Games via TWIC.