Tal Memorial participants announced; poll winner McShane confirmed

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The Russian Chess Federation has announced the line-up for the next Tal Memorial. Luke McShane, who won an online poll, has confirmed his participation.

The 7th edition of the Tal Memorial will take place 7-19 June, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. As always it will be a 10-player round roubin. The full list of participants of this year's Tal Memorial is as follows:

#NameFedRating
1Magnus CarlsenNOR2835
2Levon AronianARM2820
3Vladimir KramnikRUS2801
4Teimour RadjabovAZE2784
5Hikaru NakamuraUSA2771
6Fabiano CaruanaITA2767
7Alexander MorozevichRUS2765
8Alexander GrischukRUS2761
9Evgeny TomashevskyRUS2736
10Luke McShaneENG2691

Early March six players had confirmed their participation: Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. Three participants would be determined later, and for number ten the Russian Chess Federation used an original method: an online poll.

In the lower right corner on all pages of the RCF website a poll was put up with the names of thirteen pre-selected players. With the text "Whom do you want to see among Tal Memorial – 2012 participants?" the follow names were given:

  • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
  • Wang Hao
  • Gata Kamsky
  • Ruslan Ponomariov
  • Mickey Adams
  • Anish Giri
  • Le Quang Liem
  • Judit Polgar
  • Alexei Shirov
  • Baadur Jobava
  • Emil Sutovsky
  • Luke McShane
  • Hou Yifan

As we more or less predicted, the poll encountered problems. After a few days, the Russian Chess Federation decided to remove Le Quang Liem from the poll,

as his supporters have violated the rules of fair play and used computer generated votes.

As mishanp commented on our site, 

(...) Le Quang Liem voters got a little over "enthusiastic" and he seems to have been dropped from the race. I don't know... on the one hand, people definitely were voting multiple times (techniques for how to do it were being discussed on at least one Vietnamese forum), but on the other hand, it's just the nature of such votes.

And so against his will Le Quang Liem was punished for his popularity in his home country, and the many votes had the opposite effect.

The poll ended on Thursday, March 15th when the RCF brought the news that English grandmaster Luke McShane won the poll.

The fight was very hard, and until the end the three leaders went head to head. In the end, Luke McShane (England) won, receiving 3860 votes. Second place went to the Latvian grandmaster Alexei Shirov - 3732 votes, while third came Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) - 3682 votes. They left behind the Women's World Champion, Chinese Hou Yifan, who was supported by 1646 people, and the leader of the Georgian team Baadur Jobava, who got 720 votes.

Now, about a month later, the Russian Chess Federation could finally report that McShane has confirmed his participation. We double-checked with McShane, who replied to us that indeed he will play.

I think the poll was an imaginative idea, and was pleased to be included amongst a group of excellent candidates for the last spot. I hope I'll contribute to some exciting games in Moscow!

Besides McShane, the last three unknown names were revealed: the Russian players Alexander Morozevich, Alexander Grischuk and Evgeny Tomashevsky. For unknown reasons Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler will not play this year. RCF President Ilya Levitov supported the decision to include Tomashevsky to rsport:

He is a young and talented player with almost 2750,  but never played in such a strong tournament. Why shouldn't he be given a chance?

Normally the Tal Memorial takes place in November, but it was moved to June when FIDE announced that they would organize the Candidates Tournament in October-November. Later this tournament was moved to March 2013.

Update: in an interview after the Russian Team Championship, Sergey Karjakin reacted to the question whether he was invited for the Tal Memorial:

No, they didn't invite me. I don't know. Perhaps it's connected to the fact that I played there twice in a row before that, though in general I didn't play badly: on the first occasion I shared first place and on the second I shared third. Therefore results-wise I've got nothing to be embarrassed about. Well, and their not picking me is of course disappointing, but I don't think it's my fault.

(Translation by Colin McGourty)

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