Five draws in first round Tal Memorial

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Tal Memorial: Live CommentaryThe Tal Memorial started today with five draws, but the first round was far from boring. Most eyes were focused on Carlsen-Kramnik, in which the former World Champion went for the top seed's throat - a surprising but welcome act of aggression with Black by Kramnik which was almost successful. Update: some photos of the opening ceremony by Mark Gluhovsky.

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 1

The stongest tournament of the year has finally begun. Except for Veselin Topalov and Vugar Gashimov the whole top 10 is in Moscow. The only player perhaps who hasn't been around too much at elite (whatever that may be) events recently is Ruslan Ponomariov, but he used to be, of course. And it's good to have the former FIDE World Champion around again.

As could be expected after Carlsen's success in China, most attention went to his game against Kramnik today, and the ex-World Champion almost personally made sure that we kept on following that game. After his lost match with Anand last year, Kramnik promised the chess world that he would have a second look at his opening repertoire, and it looks like we saw an example of that today.

Tal Memorial 2009

Kramnik, unlike Kramnik, played a very sharp set-up with Black that started with Anand's recent innovation in the Nimzo that makes the move 4.Qc2 almost look dubious. To prevent further damage Carlsen went for an ending a pawn down, with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops, but even there Black had excellent winning chances.

Anand, unlike Anand, chose a solid but passive set-up with Black, against Ivanchuk. The World Champion soon came under pressure and in the early (queenless) middlegame White had a nice advantage, which vanished after one or two inaccurate move by Ivanchuk.

Another ending with lots of pieces was seen in Morozevich-Leko, which started as a Scotch but soon looked like a Sicilian Dragon. Great, imaginative play by Moro was answered by great, accurate defence by the Hungarian. Excellent game.

Tal Memorial 2009

Svidler feels at home in the Grünfeld and yet again equalized comfortably against Aronian, who even had to be a bit careful in the end. Gelfand-Pononariov was the least interesting game; a Catalan that was mainly full of exchanges.

Live commentary

As one of the strongest tournaments ever held in chess history, the Tal Memorial is an excellent moment to introduce live commentary, we figured. During the tournament, at our special live page (how easy to remember is that?) the games and, more importantly, analysis by IMs and GMs will be provided. We started today with IM Merijn van Delft and had some technical problems (almost inevitable at the start) but we hope to improve tomorrow!

Games round 1 [IM Merijn van Delft]

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tal Memorial 2009 | Schedule and results

Following an excellent idea of Georg in the comments yesterday, we try to write something about Mikhail Tal every day. Because one thing we shouldn't forget: the tournament is dedicated to the eighth World Champion, a great player and a great person who we should keep in our minds.

Before Tal passed away, the annual Moscow tournament was known as the Alekhine Memorial. The last game in The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal is against IM Hans Böhm, played at that event in 1975. Böhm tells about that game:

"Naturally that was a special experience, against a charismatic world champion who almost always put the board on fire. Unfortunately during that tournament I suffered pneumonia, and threw away many won positions. Also against Tal I was probably winning if I had played 22.Nxf7. He knew I was a dangerous opponent because he knew I had a winning position in several previous games. But he also knew I spoilt these positions!"

In his book Tal writes: "Up till the sixth round, in which this game was played, the two players had made a pretty poor showing, This applies in particular to the Dutch master playing White: his column in the tournament table showed a string of five successive noughts. It has long been known that such an opponent is doubly dangerous (this is shown by the following rounds, where Böhm scored two successive wins), since this series is always liable to come to an end."

Böhm: "I hang out a lot with him at tournaments, and for example when he played the KRO-match against Timman in Hilversum. There was much he liked to talk about in those days, the West, Fischer, politics, and he had an original way of seeing things. He appreciated the small things in life, a study, a nice move, but also stories, small jokes, and often with drinks, of course.

One night we walked in Moscow and he suddenly remembered an old friend from 40 years back. You know what he did? He called her!"

Tal Memorial

Mikhail Tal himself

Tal Memorial

At the opening ceremony. In the audience we recognize Ruslan Ponomariov, Levon Aronian, Geurt Gijssen, Joel Lautier (who lives in Moscow) and Genna Sosonko

Tal Memorial

Peter Leko, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Morozevich

Tal Memorial

Boris Gelfand ("I'd better switch that phone off altready") and Viswanathan Anand

Tal Memorial

Magnus Carlsen draws no. 1 at the drawing of lots - organizer Alexander Bakh and arbiter Geurt Gijssen next to him

Tal Memorial

No. 6 for the World Champion...

Tal Memorial

...and no. 4 for Aronian

Tal Memorial

Players, organizer and arbiters posing

Tal Memorial

Henrik Carlsen and Mark Dvoretsky ("Well, you know, Mark, it's just that... we have found a trainer which is said to be quite decent. But I'll keep it in mind.")

Photos © Mark Gluhovsky


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