Carlsen beats Ponomariov in round 8 Tal Memorial

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Tal MemorialIn the only decisive encounter of the Tal Memorial's 8th round, Magnus Carlsen won his first game, and we might as well add: in Tal style. A devastating sacrifice on e6 in a Sicilian decided his game against Ponomariov at an early stage. With four draws in the other games, Kramnik is still half a point ahead of Anand and Ivanchuk. Tomorrow is already the last round, again at 13:00 CET.

The Tal Memorial takes place November 4-18 in Moscow, Russia. The category 21 round-robin has Viswanathan Anand (India, 2788), Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2786), Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 2801), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 2772), Peter Leko (Hungary, 2752), Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2758), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2739) Alexander Morozevich (Russia, 2750), Peter Svidler (Russia, 2754) and Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 2739).

The first four rounds of the round-robin are held in hotel "National" on November 5, 6, 7 and 8. Rounds 5-9 take place in the Main Department Store GUM on Red Square. The time control is the classic 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour and then 15 minutes plus 30 seconds increment to finish the game. The rounds begin daily at 15:00 Moscow time which is 13:00 CET.

Round 8

Top seed Magnus Carlsen seemed fully recovered today and played like a young Mikhail Tal. He "thought it was time to switch opening moves," as he explained during the post-game press conference (very much done in Corus style, with a demoboard in the press room - you can still watch it here!). "Forgive me my ignorance," Carlsen continued, "but I didn't know the move 10...Ne5 at all." So much for everyone who thought that the very interesting novelty 11.Qe1 was strong preparation by the Carlsen/Kasparov team...

Carlsen allowed Ponomariov to take one of his bishops, because he considered the more natural 14.Bf2 d5 to be fine for Black. "And I wanted to line up my knights to take on e6 some day," he said with a smile. Ponomariov then should have played the normal 15...Be7, when Black in fact threatens 16...e5 and is absolutely fine. "I wouldn't recommend the way I played with White," Carlsen admitted. However, the way Ponomariov neglected his development couldn't be recommended either, and the move 20...d5 was already desperation. Carlsen is still not feeling 100%, but "it helps to win games," he ended the press conference.

The draw in Kramnik-Leko was quite spectacular but unfortunately it was all theory for no less than 26 moves. Immediately after they left an old Yusupov-Sax game, the two liquidated to a queen ending that was about equal, and so it makes you wonder whether the two friends were up to a real fight today.

Gelfand might be the oldest participant but he's in excellent shape and therefore difficult to beat, especially with the black pieces. And so Anand played it safe today, and drew in a Catalan, just like his neigbour in the standings, Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian however had to show some endgame technique to keep a difficult rook ending against Aronian. Instructive material, which was explained very clearly by our live commentator GM Dimitri Reinderman.

The game between Morozevich and Svidler had the same result and was even played out till bare kings. On move 19 Morozevich went for a long and forced line that led to a QR-QR ending with five pawns each. In the second phase of the game both players seemed to be playing for a win, which made it a fascinating struggle between the two top GMs from Russia. Because nobody faltered, the point was split in the end.

Tomorrow the last round starts at the same time: 13:00 CET. Naturally all eyes will be focused on Ivanchuk-Kramnik, and Anand-Aronian. Our live coverage will be done all the way from Sydney, Australia, by GM Ian Rogers. Free free to tune in!

Games round 8 [GM Dimitri Reinderman]

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tal Memorial 2009 | Round 8 Standings

Tal Memorial 2009

Tal Memorial 2009 | Schedule and results

Following an excellent idea of Georg in the comments, we write something about Mikhail Tal every day.

There haven't been many occasions for Dutch chess fans to see Mikhail Tal play, let alone to see him play really great chess. He won Wijk aan Zee in 1973, the year I was born, but in his other tournaments in The Netherlands, he mostly seems to have been out of form. It's strange to realize that there aren't many Dutch chess players of my generation and younger who could have seen him play in real life, since he played here for the last time in 1988, beating Jan Timman 3.5-2.5 in the KRO training match in Hilversum.

I haven't seen Tal play at the board either, but I have seen him in real life once. In 1988, when I had just joined my first chess club in Amsterdam, I visited the Wijk aan Zee tournament on a Saturday with my dad. We arrived some time in the afternoon, and when I entered the playing hall and looked around, someone came up to me and said I was standing in front of a former World Champion. I turned around and looked at whom I later learned was Mikhail Tal.

But frustratingly, I don't recall anything of him except the fact that he appeared rather short. Apparently, his famous penetrating eyes didn't make an impression on me! (I have seen Max Euwe once, too, in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam - he died in 1981 so I must have been really young - but I don't recall anything of him either. Evidently, I don't have a good memory for faces of former World Champions.)

It turned out Tal had already finished his game with Karpov, a short draw typical for his tournament, which he finished with 11 draws out of 13 games. Later that year, he did considerably better at the World Blitz Championship in Saint John: he won it ahead of the best players in the world. The old Tal was back, at age 51.

Tal,M-Gurevich,D World Blitz Ch (01) 1988

Here Tal blitzed out the fantastic 24.Nxe6!! Rxe6 25.Bxf5! and of course went on to win the game.

Arne Moll


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