Gelfand Beats Nakamura, Takes the Lead at Tal Memorial
In three days from now he will turn 45. He is the oldest participant. And he's leading the Tal Memorial after seven rounds! Boris Gelfand defeated tournament leader Hikaru Nakamura on Friday with Black, and took over the lead from America's number one player. Vladimir Kramnik suffered his third loss in Moscow against his compatriot Dmitry Andreikin, who thus became the first Russian to win a game in this tournament.
After the second and last rest day, the 8th Tal Memorial resumed on Friday with round 7. Hikaru Nakamura was defending his half point lead over Boris Gelfand, who happened to be his opponent. Besides assisting GM Ben Finegold a bit with the analysis of the 2013 U.S. Junior Championship during the rest day, Nakamura must have spent some time on Gelfand's Sicilian Sveshnikov. After trying it a few times earlier in his career, the Israeli made it his main weapon against 1.e4 for his World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand, last year in Moscow. And it still is.
Unlike Anand, and many other opponents of Gelfand, Nakamura went "all in" with the sharp 9.Bxf6 line. Black's pawn grab on a2 was the most principled continuation, and what followed was a difficult ending where White had very active knights, but a passive g2 bishop. On move 33 Gelfand made a very accurate king move, but from that moment he was in slight time trouble. Nakamura had more time on the clock and played faster, but his moves were not the best and after the time control was reached, it became clear that he was going to lose material. A tough blow for the American, but another excellent game for the Israeli!
Recently commentator GM Sergey Shipov joked than in twenty years Gelfand will finally become the #1 player in the world. If he continues like this, it won't take him that long! :-)
The other decisive result in this round was another black victory. Dmitry Andreikin scored the first win for a Russian player in this tournament - it's hard to believe that it took seven rounds! What's also hard to believe is that it was Vladimir Kramnik who went down, and with the white pieces! (Luckily, today we also have some examples by him from better times.)
The game was a hybrid between the Catalan and the Bogo-Indian, with Black exchanging the dark-squared bishops early on and creating a Semi-Slav setup with his pieces and pawns. At the press conference Andreikin mentioned Magnus Carlsen as one of the players who have played like this, but also GM Vadim Zvjaginsev, who recommended ...dxc4 and ...Nd5. The endgame was roughly equal until Kramnik, without having time trouble, suddenly dropped an important pawn. He must have completely missed Black's 27th and 28th move.
With a win against Alexander Morozevich, Magnus Carlsen could have jumped to (shared) second place. However, the Norwegian didn't come close to an advantage. At the press conference he said:
"Today I got surprised in the opening so obviously whatever preparation I did didn't help. Besides, my head wasn't working great today."
Morozevich equalized without problems in a Caro-Kann with 4...Nd7. Carlsen's slightly extravagant setup only led to massive exchanges.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Viswanathan Anand drew a Semi-Slav, Anti-Meran. Anand had some experience with this variation, in which Black sacrifices a pawn to win it back (much) later in a symmetrical ending. The World Champion summarized the affairs as follows:
"A game with some finesses but I don't believe that either side was in any big danger at any point. If either of us had been a little bit careless maybe the other party could have tried a bit."
The round also saw the longest game of the tournament so far, and perhaps the longest of the year between two top ten players!? It finished a little before 10.30pm local time, which was seven and a half hours after the start of the round! Sergey Karjakin pressed for 138 moves but then finally agreed to a draw with Fabiano Caruana, who clearly knows his theoretical endings.
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 7 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, Sergey Shipov, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxim Dlugy. The games start each day at 15:00 local time which is 13:00 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.