Tal Memorial R1: Kramnik loses to Nepomniachtchi, Ivanchuk beats Svidler

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The first round of the Tal Memorial in Moscow, Russia immediately saw a big upset: last seed Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces. In the only other decisive game, Vassily Ivachuk beat Peter Svidler.

The playing hall during the first round | Photo © Macauley Peterson

EventTal Memorial 2011PGN via TWIC
DatesNovember 16th-25th, 2011
LocationMoscow, Russia
System10-player round robin
PlayersCarlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Karjakin, Nakamura, Svidler, Gelfand, Nepomniachtchi
Rate of play100 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 50 minutes for the next 20 moves followed by 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one
NotesDraw offers before move 40 are not allowed. Tiebreak systems: most blacks, head-to-head, Coya, S-B, number of wins - in that order

Perhaps the word 'upset' is more accurate in situations where a player beats a much higher rated opponent, but when Vladimir Kramnik loses to the last seeded participant with the White pieces it's certainly a surprising start of the Tal Memorial!

Nepomniachtchi vs Kramnik | Photo © RCF

Somehow the former World Champion wasn't playing as accurately as he normally does in endings.

[Event "6th Tal Memorial"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2011.11.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Kramnik, V."]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, I."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A37"]
[WhiteElo "2800"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "106"]
[EventDate "2011.11.16"]

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. a3 d6 7. O-O Nge7 8. b4 e4
9. Ne1 f5 10. Bb2 O-O 11. d3 Be6 12. dxe4 fxe4 13. Bxe4 Bxc4 14. Nc2 d5 15. Bg2
d4 16. Ne4 Bxe2 17. Qxe2 d3 18. Qg4 Bxb2 19. Rad1 Qc8 ({Nepomniachtchi spent a
lot of time on} 19... dxc2 20. Rxd8 Raxd8 {when White can just play} 21. Nxc5
$1 {and now} c1=Q {fails to} 22. Rxc1 Bxc1 23. Qc4+) 20. Qxc8 Raxc8 21. Rxd3
cxb4 22. axb4 Rcd8 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Rb1 Bg7 25. h4 {Criticised by
Nepomniachtchi.} (25. b5) 25... b5 26. Bf1 a6 27. Nc5 Rd2 {Black takes over
the initiative.} 28. Ne3 Bd4 29. Ne4 $6 ({Nepomniachtchi expected} 29. Nxa6 {
but it does look dangerous after} Ne5 30. Bxb5 Nf5 {However, without fear
White should go for} 31. Nxf5 gxf5 32. Kf1 $1 Rxf2+ 33. Ke1 Nf3+ 34. Kd1 Rd2+
35. Kc1 Rg2 36. Rb3 {and it's equal.}) 29... Rb2 30. Rxb2 Bxb2 31. Nc2 Nd5 32.
Nc5 Ndxb4 33. Nxb4 Nxb4 34. Nd3 Nxd3 35. Bxd3 Kf7 36. f4 Ke6 37. Kf2 Kd5 38.
Ke2 Kc5 39. Kd2 {A mistake according to Nepomniachtchi, after which the ending
is probably lost. IM Robert Ris will analyze it in ChessVibes Training soon!} (
39. h5 $5) 39... a5 40. f5 a4 41. Bc2 a3 42. Bb1 gxf5 43. Kc2 Kb4 44. Ba2 Be5
45. Be6 a2 46. Bxa2 Bxg3 47. h5 h6 48. Kd3 Ka3 49. Bd5 b4 50. Kc2 Be5 51. Bb3
f4 52. Bd5 Bf6 53. Kb1 b3 0-1

Kramnik with his own tea pot, bringing him no luck | Photo © RCF

Nepomniachtchi with the best start possible | Photo © RCF

The other decisive game was also decided in an ending. At some point Peter Svidler had to give a pawn in his game against Vassily Ivanchuk but everything still seemed to be under control - until move 51.

[Event "6th Tal Memorial"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2011.11.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Ivanchuk, V."]
[Black "Svidler, P."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D80"]
[WhiteElo "2775"]
[BlackElo "2755"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "121"]
[EventDate "2011.11.16"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 Bg7 5. Qb3 e6 6. Qa3 a5 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. Bd2
Nb4 9. Qa4+ Bd7 10. Qb3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bc6 12. a3 $146 (12. Be2 O-O 13. O-O Nbd5
14. Ne5 Nxc3 15. bxc3 Ne4 16. Nxc6 bxc6 17. Rad1 {1/2-1/2 Farago,I (2507)
-Ftacnik,L (2579)/Hamburg 2004}) 12... Nbd5 13. Ne5 O-O 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Qc2
Qe7 16. O-O c5 17. Ne2 cxd4 18. Nxd4 c5 19. Nb5 Rfc8 20. Rfd1 Ng4 21. h3 Ne5
22. Be2 c4 23. Rac1 h5 24. Nc3 Nb6 25. Ne4 Nd5 26. Nc3 Nb6 27. Ne4 Nd5 28. Be1
Rab8 29. Kh1 Nd7 30. Rb1 Nc5 ({A more promising pawn sacrifice seems to be}
30... Ne5 $5 31. Bxa5 Nd3 32. Bxd3 cxd3 33. Qxd3 Rxb2) 31. Bxc4 Nb6 32. Bb5 Nd5
33. a4 Na6 34. Qe2 Nab4 35. Rbc1 Rc7 36. Nc3 Rbc8 37. Nxd5 exd5 38. Rxc7 Rxc7
39. b3 Bc3 {Black has some positional compensation for the pawn.} 40. Rc1 Qf6
41. Qf3 Qe5 42. Qg3 Qxg3 43. fxg3 Be5 44. Rxc7 Bxc7 45. Kg1 Nc2 46. Bd2 Bb6 47.
Kf2 d4 ({Maybe it was better to wait with e.g.} 47... Kg7) 48. e4 d3+ 49. Kf1
Ne3+ 50. Ke1 Nxg2+ 51. Kd1 h4 $2 {Perhaps missing White's 53rd move.} (51...
Ne3+ 52. Kc1 Nc2 53. Bxd3 Nb4 54. Bc4 Kf8) 52. gxh4 Nxh4 53. b4 $1 axb4 54.
Bxb4 Nf3 55. a5 Bd4 56. Be7 f5 57. exf5 gxf5 58. Bd8 Kf7 59. Bb6 Ke6 60. Bxd4
Nxd4 61. Bxd3 ({It's completely over, e.g.} 61. Bxd3 Nc6 62. a6 Ke5 63. Kd2 Kf4
64. Ke2 Kg5 65. Ke3 f4+ 66. Kf3 Ne5+ 67. Ke4 Nc6 68. Bb5 Na7 69. Bd7 $18) 1-0

Vassily Ivanchuk started with a win as well | Photo © RCF

One of the best games of the round was Aronian-Carlsen. The white player didn't see the win when his opponent blundered:

[Event "6th Tal Memorial"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2011.11.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Aronian, L."]
[Black "Carlsen, M."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2802"]
[BlackElo "2826"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "114"]
[EventDate "2011.11.16"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qa4 Be7 6. Bg2 c6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. O-O
d5 9. Ne5 Qe8 10. b3 b5 11. Qa5 Bd8 12. Qa3 Be7 13. c5 Bb7 14. Qb2 a5 15. Nd3 (
15. a3 Nfd7) 15... b4 16. Na4 Nbd7 17. a3 $146 (17. Bf4 Ba6 18. Rfd1 Qd8 19. a3
bxa3 20. Qxa3 Nh5 21. Bd6 {Beliavsky,A-Antoshin,V/Soviet Union 1978}) 17... Ba6
18. Rd1 Bxd3 19. Rxd3 Ne4 20. f3 Nef6 21. Rd1 e5 22. e3 bxa3 23. Qc2 Bd8 {"I
felt that I was playing bad moves but my position was improving." (Aronian) "I
thought I was playing well but didn't like the position." (Carlsen)} 24. Bxa3
Rb8 25. Re1 Qe6 26. Nb2 Re8 27. Nd3 Bc7 28. Bb2 e4 29. Nf2 exf3 30. Bxf3 Ne4
31. Nxe4 dxe4 32. Bd1 Nf6 33. Bc3 Nd5 34. Bxa5 Ra8 35. Qd2 Qg6 36. Kh1 Qh6 37.
b4 Bxg3 38. Rg1 Bh4 39. Bb3 Bg5 $6 {This fails tactically.} ({It was probably
better to play} 39... Qxe3 40. Qxe3 Nxe3 {but Aronian had faith in the
potential of his "little guys" on the queenside, e.g.} 41. b5 cxb5 42. d5) 40.
Bxd5 Bxe3 41. Bxf7+ $1 Kxf7 42. Qa2+ Qe6 43. Rgf1+ Kg8 44. Qxe6+ Rxe6 45. Rad1
Bg5 46. d5 cxd5 47. Rxd5 Bf6 48. Rd6 Rxd6 (48... Kf7 49. Rxe6 Kxe6 50. c6 Be5
51. Re1 Kd5 52. c7 Rc8 53. Rc1) 49. cxd6 Bd8 {During the game Carlsen noticed
that he had made a mistake...} 50. Rf5 $2 {...but Aronian misses it, while
"thinking I was being really smart".} (50. Bc7 $1 {seems to be winning:} e3 51.
b5 Bh4 52. d7 e2 53. Rg1 Rf8 {and now simply} (53... e1=Q 54. Rxe1 Bxe1 55.
d8=Q+ Rxd8 56. Bxd8 Bf2 57. b6 Kf7 58. Bc7) 54. b6 $1 e1=Q 55. Rxe1 Bxe1 56.
d8=Q (56. b7 $2 Bh4 $1 57. d8=Q Bxd8 58. b8=Q Bxc7 59. Qxc7 {is a theoretical
draw}) 56... Rxd8 57. Bxd8 Bf2 58. b7 Ba7 59. Bc7 Kf7 60. b8=Q Bxb8 61. Bxb8
$18) 50... Bxa5 51. bxa5 Rd8 52. Rd5 Kf7 53. a6 Ke6 54. Rd4 Kd7 55. Rb4 e3 56.
Kg2 Rf8 57. a7 e2 1/2-1/2

Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian during the game... | Photo © RCF

...and here during their lively press conference | Photo © RCF

In a round with a lot of fingerfehlers the game Anand-Karjakin wasn't without mistakes either.

[Event "6th Tal Memorial"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2011.11.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E32"]
[WhiteElo "2811"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2011.11.16"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. Nf3 dxc4 8.
Qxc4 b6 9. Bg5 Ba6 10. Qa4 h6 11. Bh4 c5 12. dxc5 bxc5 13. Rd1 (13. Rc1 Qe7 14.
Nd2 Rd8 15. Rc2 Rd4 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 17. Qe8+ Kh7 18. e3 Rd8 19. Qa4 Bb7 20. Ne4
Qg6 21. Nxc5 Bxg2 22. Bxg2 Qxg2 23. Qe4+ Qxe4 24. Nxe4 Nd7 25. Ke2 f5 26. Nd2
Ne5 {1/2-1/2 So,W (2658)-Karjakin,S (2788)/Khanty Mansiysk 2011}) 13... Qb6 14.
Bxf6 gxf6 15. e3 $146 (15. Qg4+ Kh8 16. Qf4 Kg7 17. h4 Qxb2 18. Rh3 Qc3+ 19.
Nd2 Qe5 20. Qg4+ Kh8 21. f4 Qf5 22. Qf3 Rc8 23. Rg3 c4 24. e4 Qc5 25. Qg4 Qf8
26. Bxc4 Rd8 27. Rc1 Rc8 28. Rd1 Rd8 29. Rc1 Rc8 30. Rcc3 Bxc4 31. Nxc4 Nd7 32.
Qd1 Nb6 33. Nxb6 Rxc3 34. Rxc3 axb6 35. Qd4 Qd8 36. Qxd8+ Rxd8 37. Ke2 Kg7 38.
Rb3 {1/2-1/2 Vitiugov,N (2710)-Alekseev,E (2700)/Dagomys 2010}) 15... Bxf1 16.
Kxf1 Nc6 17. Rb1 Rab8 18. Ke2 Qb5+ 19. Qxb5 Rxb5 20. Kd3 Rfb8 21. Kc2 Na5 22.
Nd2 Kf8 23. b3 Ke7 24. Kc3 Kd7 25. Rb2 ({After the game Anand thought} 25. Nc4
{to be better, e.g.} Nxc4 26. Kxc4 a5 27. Rhd1+ {and now} Kc6 $6 28. Rd3 $1 a4
29. Rbd1 {is something Black should avoid. Here} axb3 {loses to} 30. Rd7 $1 {
and even Karjakin's suggestion of} Rb4+ {at the press conference doesn't help
Black:} 31. axb4 Rxb4+ 32. Kc3 b2 33. R1d6+ Kb5 34. Rb7+) 25... Kc6 26. Rhb1
Rd8 27. b4 cxb4+ 28. axb4 Nb7 29. Nc4 Nd6 30. Ra1 $2 {'A blunder' (Anand)} ({
Better was} 30. Ra2) 30... Ne4+ 31. Kc2 Nxf2 32. Rb3 (32. Rxa7 Nd3) 32... Rg8
$6 ({Anand expected} 32... Rd7 {e.g.} 33. Rc3 Kb7 34. Na5+ Kb8 35. Nc6+ Ka8 36.
Rca3 Rbb7 37. b5 Rdc7 38. Kd2 f5 $11) 33. Ra6+ Kc7 34. Rxa7+ Rb7 35. Rxb7+ Kxb7
36. g3 Ng4 37. Rd3 Rg5 $6 38. h4 (38. Rd7+ Kc6 39. Rxf7 {was worth trying.})
38... Rg7 39. Rd7+ Kc6 40. Ra7 (40. Rd6+ Kc7 41. b5 Nxe3+) 40... Ne5 41. Nxe5+
fxe5 42. Kd3 1/2-1/2

Anand vs Karjakin | Photo © RCF

The most balanced (and least interesting) game was the following.

[Event "6th Tal Memorial"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2011.11.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Nakamura, Hi"]
[Black "Gelfand, B."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2758"]
[BlackElo "2744"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2011.11.16"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 Nh5 8. Be2
Nxf4 9. exf4 c6 10. O-O b6 $146 (10... f6 11. b4 Qc7 12. Qd2 Rf7 13. Rae1 Nf8
14. Bd3 Bd7 15. g3 Re8 16. Re3 Bd8 17. Rfe1 Qb8 {Grischuk,A (2747)-Gelfand,B
(2733)/Kazan 2011}) 11. b4 a5 12. a3 Qc7 13. g3 Ba6 14. Re1 Bf6 15. Ne5 Bxe5
16. fxe5 Qb7 17. Bxa6 Rxa6 18. Qe2 axb4 19. axb4 Rfa8 20. Rab1 Ra3 21. Rec1
bxc5 22. bxc5 Qa7 23. Kg2 h6 24. h4 Rb8 25. Rxb8+ Qxb8 26. Rb1 Qa7 27. Qc2 Qa6
28. Ne2 Ra2 29. Rb2 Ra1 30. h5 Qa5 31. Qd2 Qa6 32. Qc2 Qa5 33. Qd2 Qa6 34. Qc2
1/2-1/2

Boris Gelfand holds Hikaru Nakamura with Black | Photo © RCF

Macauley Peterson is in Moscow during the first few rounds and shared some information with us. To start with, we have a few names in the seconds department: Nepomniachtchi again works with Vladimir Potkin, Boris Gelfand again brought Alexander Huzman and Sergey Karjakin again has Alexander Motylev with him.

A new name is connected to Hikaru Nakamura. No, we're not talking about Garry Kasparov (who surely has contact with his new 'student' via Skype), but GM Ben Finegold from the USA came along. Peter Svidler took opportunity of Finegold's arrival from the U.S. to get a set of graphic novels he was after delivered (if you're interested: Freak Angels by Warren Ellis).

Vassily Ivanchuk has worked with several grandmasters in recent years (Manuel Leon Hoyos and Sarunas Sulskis come to mind) and to that list we can add the young Ukrainian GM Adam Tukhaev.

 

Vassily Ivanchuk with yet again a new second | Photo © Macauley Peterson

For Vishy Anand it's the first time in more than a year that his wife Aruna is joining him at a tournament. Their son Akhil, now 7 months old, is at home with the family.

At the opening ceremony, Ivanchuk was given a compact chess set as a gift when he came up for the drawing of lots. It was a nice gesture from the organizers, who wanted to give him something to replace the one stolen in Sao Paulo.

 

Players and officials at the opening ceremony | Photo © Macauley Peterson

 

Ilya Levitov and Arkadij Dvorkovich opening the Tal Memorial 2011 | Photo © Macauley Peterson

 

The drawing of lots was done by picking one of the T-shirts with all signatures and sponsor logos with the pairing number.

 

 

 

Israelian GMs Emil Sutovksy and Alexander Huzman... | Photo © Macauley Peterson

 

 

...the latter wearing a special chess tie | Photo © Macauley Peterson

 

Luckily, for the fans all over the world, the Russian Chess Federation is continuing its excellent video coverage for their top events. There are ten cameras in the production including a remote controlled one mounted to a boom over the playing hall.

At this tournament live commentary is done by GM Emil Sutovsky (Russian only) who will have different non-chess guests each day. For round 1 this was the famous author and satirist Victor Shenderovich.

 

 

The commentary team | Photo © Macauley Peterson

 

And, something we'll only need at the end of the tournament but what is useful to know already: the tiebreak systems are, in this order, most blacks, head-to-head, Coya, S-B, and then number of wins.

Schedule and pairings

Round 116.11.1112:00 CET Round 217.11.1112:00 CET
Aronian½ ½Carlsen Carlsen-Gelfand
Kramnik0-1Nepomniachtchi Karjakin-Nakamura
Ivanchuk1-0Svidler Svidler-Anand
Anand½ ½Karjakin Nepomniachtchi-Ivanchuk
Nakamura½ ½Gelfand Aronian-Kramnik
Round 318.11.1112:00 CET Round 419.11.1112:00 CET
Kramnik-Carlsen Carlsen-Karjakin
Ivanchuk-Aronian Svidler-Gelfand
Anand-Nepomniachtchi Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura
Nakamura-Svidler Aronian-Anand
Gelfand-Karjakin Kramnik-Ivanchuk
Round 520.11.1112:00 CET Round 622.11.1112:00 CET
Ivanchuk-Carlsen Carlsen-Svidler
Anand-Kramnik Nepomniachtchi-Karjakin
Nakamura-Aronian Aronian-Gelfand
Gelfand-Nepomniachtchi Kramnik-Nakamura
Karjakin Svidler Ivanchuk-Anand
Round 723.11.1112:00 CET Round 824.11.1112:00 CET
Anand-Carlsen Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi
Nakamura-Ivanchuk Aronian-Svidler
Gelfand-Kramnik Kramnik-Karjakin
Karjakin-Aronian Ivanchuk-Gelfand
Svidler-Nepomniachtchi Anand-Nakamura
Round 925.11.1110:00 CET    
Nakamura-Carlsen    
Gelfand-Anand    
Karjakin-Ivanchuk    
Svidler-Kramnik    
Nepomniachtchi-Aronian    

 

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