M-Tel R1: a new phase for chess?

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Round 1 in SofiaIn a spectacular first round of the M-Tel Masters, top seed Veselin Topalov lost with Black against Magnus Carlsen. 2008 winner Vassily Ivanchuk made a big mistake in the opening and went down very quickly against Shirov while Wang Yue missed a win against Dominguez; the two drew the longest game of the round.

The 5th M-Tel Masters takes place May 12th to 23rd in a glass pavilion on the square in front of the National Theatre Ivan Vazov in Sofia, Bulgaria. It's a six-player double round-robin with Carlsen, Dominguez, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Topalov and Wang Yue playing. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves per player and 60 minutes per player till the end of the game. "Sofia rules" will again be used, so draw offers can be made only through the chief arbiter in the case of a threefold repetition, perpetual check or a theoretically draw position.

Round 1

Although the tournament is being held for the fifth time already, apparently technical problems can still pop up as uninvited guests anywhere, and at any moment. Just like at the President's Cup in Baku last week, the live broadcast of the first round in Sofia was a disaster, as no single move was transmitted on the official website the whole day. Only after the round had finished, the games became available for download.

It was slightly ironic, since the game viewer had the same note as was shown during the Topalov-Kamsky match, saying it's prohibited to broadcast the games live on other websites without the permission of the organizers. And, especially in a tournament that is famous for setting new standards, it was just unacceptable.

But let's quickly go to the games, which many of you haven't seen yet. Naturally everyone is curious to see how Alexei Shirov will fare at this tournament, since his last super tournament was the Tal Memorial in August last year, where he finished last with 3/11. In the first round of M-Tel this year he played against Vassily Ivanchuk, the winner of that Tal Memorial and of course of last year's M-Tel.

However, thus far 2009 has clearly not been Chuky's year. Not the fact that he lost with White, but the way he did it, in just 24 moves, makes you wonder if he doesn't play a bit too much chess. In a variation of the 3.Bb5+ Sicilian where he invented an important novelty himself for Black in 2003, he must have mixed up something as he was soon worse, and then quickly lost.


A good start for Alexei Shirov

The next game, the clash between top seeds Carlsen and Topalov, was the second one that got a decisive result on the official website and thus made the fans eager to see the moves. It turned out to be a very strong game by Carlsen, who out-calculated Topalov in the middlegame.


An excellent first-round win for Carlsen

Co-editor IM Merijn van Delft expressed an interesting feeling: "M-Tel might be the beginning of a new era of chess in which all that's left is concrete moves". He was referring to both the concrete variations that justified Carlsen's remarkable knight manoeuvre and the deep theorecal lines of the Gr?ºnfeld from Wang Yue-Dominguez. White should have won that game, by the way, but the Chinese blundered heavily in the end.

Game viewer

(Click here for more info on the new game viewer.) Click on the pairings at the top of the board to reveal a drop down list of all the games. Click on the arrow under the board just once, then the arrow keys of your keyboard also work.


The glass pavilion right in front of the National Theatre Ivan Vazov...


...covering against the sun, with a big sponsor logo on the side


Inside the glass cube

Shirov and Stefanova

Shirov explaining the game to live commentator and former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova from Bulgaria; host of the press conference on the left


A bad start for the world's number one

Carlsen and Topalov

Carlsen and Topalov at the press conference


Wang Yue, missing an easy win in the endgame



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