Kramnik wins Tal Memorial

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Tal MemorialVladimir Kramnik won the Tal Memorial after successfully defending against a kingside attack by Vassily Ivanchuk in today's last round. The game ended in a draw and because Anand was crushed by Aronian, Kramnik secured clear first place. Carlsen defeated Leko to finish shared 2nd, and to become the world's number one in the live ratings. Ponomariov beat Morozevich and Svidler and Gelfand drew in a very exciting last round in Moscow.

The Tal Memorial took place November 4-18 in Moscow, Russia. The category 21 round-robin had 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 were held in hotel "National" on November 5, 6, 7 and 8. Rounds 5-9 took place in the Main Department Store GUM on Red Square. The time control was 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.

Round 9

Where many feel uncomfortable, Vladimir Kramnik is at his best. Vassily Ivanchuk, who needed a win today to win the Tal Memorial outright, got his chances, with many pieces pointing at Black's king and weak points on e6 and g6, but with calm defence Kramnik held his position together. In the last phase of the game Ivanchuk had gotten into slight time trouble, and the online viewers had the (wishful?) feeling that the Ukrainian missed a win somewhere, but Kramnik hadn't seen it, as he explained at the press conference.

Tal Memorial

Kramnik showing the game to the journalists in the press room

Earlier in the day Vishy Anand had suffered a tough afternoon. The Indian was playing the White pieces for a slim chance of tournament victory, but he got totally crushed by Aronian. A game not worthy of a World Champion, one would say, but well, everyone has a bad, and sometimes really bad day, once in a while.

Tal Memorial

Anand resigns

Ponomariov could leave the tournament with a smile thanks to a last-round win against Morozevich. What started as a slightly worse ending got worse for Moro when he decided to go for some tactics, which just didn't work. Svidler and Gelfand had little to add in a Petroff line that's known to be OK for Black (like all other Petroff lines).

Thanks to a collapse of Leko, Carlsen eventually managed to finish shared 2nd with Ivanchuk, and surpass Topalov on the live rating list, in the very last round. Since the Chess Classic in London will probably count for the January list as well, we can't make conclusions yet, but at the moment Carlsen is virtually the world's number one.

Leko disappointed both himself and the fans by first refraining from any winning attempts in a slightly better ending, and then defending badly in an equal position. But credits should go to Carlsen who managed to find active, annoying moves in an objectively equal position - the Norwegian was the fighter again that we saw in Nanjing.

Tal Memorial

Leko resigns

Below you'll find the instructive comments of GM Ian Rogers' live commentary, and down the article his contribution to our daily Tal columns. With this article our coverage of the Tal Memorial comes to an end - well, as far as the round-robin is concerend, as we'll have the World Blitz Ch coming up.

It has been a great tournament, and a very interesting one for the ChessVibes team as well. We have lots of material to evaluate concerning our new service, with respect to the technical side and the content, but for this first time we think we didn't do that badly. And what's most important - we hope you've enjoyed it.

Games round 9 [GM Ian Rogers]

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tal Memorial 2009 | Round 9 (Final) Standings

Tal Memorial 2009

Tal Memorial 2009 | All results

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

My first encounter with Tal came at the Keres Memorial tournament in Tallinn, Estonia (then part of the Soviet Union) in February 1985. Like most Soviet tournaments of the time, this tournament was the real deal; 15 rounds, 8 rest days, three adjournment days and three days of mourning when USSR President Chernenko died. Yes, a full month in -30 degree temperatures with near-worthless roubles as prize money - but also a chance to play against, and perhaps earn some respect from, a living legend in Tal.

I had just won my fourth round game and was analysing with my opponent, Czech IM Josef Pribyl, in an overheated back room behind the playing hall; a room filled with coffee, cigarette smoke and enthusiastic but interfering spectators.


As Pribyl and I replayed the game and reached the diagrammed position, a bony hand from an old codger reached out and tried to play 11.e6, simply losing the pawn for not much. I waved the hand away more than once but it persisted.

Exasperated I turned around, ready with a sharp word, when I noticed that the hand belonged to Tal!

Feeling extremely sheepish, I immediately began to analyse Tal’s idea; if the great former World Champion wanted to give away one of my pawns, that was fine by me. Of course the move turned out to be a powerful pawn sacrifice which I had barely considered. Tal watched our analysis for a short time, smiled and returned to his drink and cigarette.

GM Ian Rogers


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