Mamedyarov Leads Tal Memorial Rapid Chess After Day 1
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is on 2.5/3 at the Tal Memorial. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Mamedyarov Leads Tal Memorial Rapid Chess After Day 1

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads the Tal Memorial in Moscow after three rounds. The Azerbaijani grandmaster is on 2.5/3 with six rapid rounds to go, and then a final day of blitz.

The Tal Memorial has returned to the calendar, albeit in a different form. To give participants of the Candidates' Tournament a chance to warm up without getting too tired, the format is three days of rapid chess and one day of blitz.

The tournament continues an old tradition that was revived in 2012 to hold Russian top tournaments in museums. This Tal Memorial is taking place in the Museum of Russian Impressionism, a leading private museum on Leningradsky Avenue, 4.5 km northwest of Red Square. The games are indeed played with paintings as backdrops.

Tal Memorial 2018 Museum

Chess, once again, in the middle of a museum. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

This 11th edition of the Tal Memorial has a total prize fund of $150,000. It started today with a 10-player single round robin of rapid chess (25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment). Three rounds are played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 2-4.

The players are GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Daniil Dubov (all from Russia), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Viswanathan Anand (India), and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

Four of these players are also in the Candidates': Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin and Mamedyarov.

Anand, Svidler, Grischuk, Karjakin, Tal Memorial 2018

Anand, Svidler, Grischuk and Karjakin having a chat during the opening ceremony. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

For the blitz, on Monday, March 5, four more players will be added: GMs Vladislav Artemiev, Dmitry Andreikin, Vladimir Fedoseev and Alexander Morozevich. That will also be a single round robin, of 13 rounds, with a time control of 5 minutes and 3 seconds increment. That tournament will take place in the Central Chess Club in Moscow on Gogolevsky Boulevard.

The reigning world rapid champion Anand drew first blood as he won his white game against Dubov.

Vishy Anand Tal Memorial 2018

Anand had a good start of 2/2 today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nakamura won a nice endgame against Gelfand after the game had started rather sharply. This Anti-Moscow used to be quite fashionable, but we don't get to see it much anymore. The commentator Morozevich, who joined GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko in the studio today, suggested an interesting middlegame plan.

Hikaru Nakamura Tal Memorial 2018

Sweet endgame technique by Nakamura in his game with Gelfand. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nakamura couldn't keep it up, as he lost his very next encounter to Dubov—this was definitely the game of the day, especially if we take into account that we are remembering the eighth world champion in this tournament!

Sacrificing not one or two, but three pawns in the opening (a Mikenas English), and doing it without much thinking, the young Russian revealed he had prepared this plan.

Dubov-Nakamura Tal Memorial 2018Dubov won in Tal style, or was it more like Adolf Anderssen? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Anand was the only player to reach 2/2 but this time his win wasn't so convincing. Hanging on to the material was good, but somehow he got confused when Nepomniachtchi walked his king all the way to c6. The Russian player lost as he erred in a drawn rook endgame.

Ian Nepomniachtchi Tal Memorial 2018

A big mistake in the rook endgame by Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In round three, Nakamura bounced back strongly in his game with Nepomniachtchi—always a bit of a grudge match since the incident between the players at the 2015 FIDE World Cup.

White's calm e3 vs the King's Indian turned into a Benoni type of game where "Nepo" missed a few tactical ideas and then got into a horrible position.

Anand suffered his first loss to Mamedyarov, who thus took over the lead as the only player on 2.5 points. Commentators "Moro" and "Miro" were puzzled by the Indian GM's play, and didn't like that he allowed his bishop to be traded for the knight (and even less that he started to lose pawn after pawn!). 

2018 Tal Memorial Rapid | Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2755 3069 1 ½ 1 2.5/3
2 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2841 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3 2.75
3 Anand,Viswanathan 2805 2860 0 1 1 2.0/3 2
4 Nakamura,Hikaru 2820 2823 0 1 1 2.0/3 1.5
5 Dubov,Daniil 2663 2783 0 1 ½ 1.5/3 2.75
6 Karjakin,Sergey 2724 2700 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
7 Kramnik,Vladimir 2795 2773 ½ 0 1 1.5/3 1.75
8 Gelfand,Boris 2644 2658 ½ 0 ½ 1.0/3
9 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2803 2519 0 0 ½ 0.5/3 0.25
10 Svidler,Peter 2770 2505 0 0 ½ 0.5/3 0.25

Rounds 4-6 will be played tomorrow, and rounds 7-9 on Sunday. Then, on Monday, 13 rounds of blitz will follow.

Drawing of lots Tal Memorial 2018

The players' lot numbers were on the back of postcards. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Kramnik drawing of lots Tal Memorial 2018

Kramnik picks what turns out to be lot number 10. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

An orchestra and art Tal Memorial 2018

A small orchestra provided further entertainment at the opening. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Tal Memorial 2018

Chess right next to art! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Kris Littlejohn, Hikaru Nakamura, Tal Memorial 2018

Hikaru Nakamura and his second Kris Littlejohn. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Sergey Shipov Tal Memorial 2018

GM Sergey Shipov giving commentary in Russian. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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