Nepomniachtchi Still Hot; Grabs 1st Round Lead In Tal Memorial

Nepomniachtchi Still Hot; Grabs 1st Round Lead In Tal Memorial

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi began the Baku Olympiad with an incredible 7.0/7 before suffering a defeat at the hands of eventual gold medal winner, GM Wesley So. He seems to have continued his form into the Tal Memorial where he began the event by demolishing his Olympiad teammate GM Evgeny Tomashevsky in only 23 moves.

Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Between today's victory and his Olympiad result, Nepomniachtchi has pushed his live rating up 13.7 points to a personal high of 2753.7. He is roughly 10 points outside of the world top 10 and seems well placed to make that critical breakthrough.

The game itself was startling largely because of its brevity. Tomashevsky seemed quite unready for Nepomniachtchi's Scotch and collapsed soon; even the theoretical 10...Bg7 may have been a costly error.

The only winner of the day discussing his game with
commentator Sergei Shipov. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Despite success, the round was not entirely joyful for the winner. "Ian Nepomniachtchi relates that he was very much affected at the start of play today by the news of Dvoretsky's passing. ... It was only Tomashevsky's slow play in the opening that allowed Nepomniachtchi to get in a suitable frame of mind.” (ruchess.ru)

GM Peter Svidler nearly also managed to start with a victory over world number-two GM Vladimir Kramnik who was riding high after an impressive Olympiad. Svidler, who struggled (minus two) in his most recent tournament, the Sinquefield Cup, applied great pressure in the early game after the piece sac 19.Bxg5! It was hard to pin down a clear win, but perhaps 31.Qxe8+! was the best opportunity.

Vladimir Kramnik. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Meanwhile, GM Anish Giri achieved a significant but insufficient plus against GM Viswanathan Anand.

Anish Giri during one of his strolls along the boards. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov must have wanted to continue his winning ways after the blitz tournament, but GM Li Chao (the hapless Chinese board three at the Olympiad) played very well and achieved a better position as Black. However, a draw was always most likely and Mamedyarov secured it confidently.

Li Chao had three unfortunate losses in Baku. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

The final draw between GM Levon Aronian and GM Boris Gelfand featured an interesting opening skirmish, but the resulting endgame was the second most boring demonstration on record of the principle, "Place your pawns on the opposite-color of your bishop."

Aronian and Gelfand at the post-mortem.| Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

What is the most boring demonstration ever? I'm glad you asked!

Among the spectators was WGM Olga Girya. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

2016 Tal Memorial | Round One Standings

# Fed Player Rtg Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2740 1 1
2 Gelfand, Boris 2743 0.5 ½
3 Svidler, Peter 2745 0.5 ½
4 Kramnik, Vladimir 2808 0.5 ½
5 Giri, Anish 2755 0.5 ½
6 Anand, Viswanathan 2776 0.5 ½
7 Aronian, Levon 2795 0.5 ½
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2761 0.5 ½
9 Li Chao 2746 0.5 ½
10 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2731 0 0
The Tal Memorial takes place from Sept. 26 through Oct. 6. Sept. 28 and Oct. 3rd are rest days.

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