Tal Memorial R2: Kramnik Loses Again as Nakamura Bounces Back

Tal Memorial R2: Kramnik Loses Again as Nakamura Bounces Back

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In the second round of the Tal Memorial, Hikaru Nakamura bounced back from his quick loss. And how! With the black pieces the American grandmaster defeated Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who thus started with two consecutive losses. Fabiano Caruana, who began his tournament with an splendid win against the World Champion, was on the losing side the next day. In a very theoretical game, the Italian was outplayed by Boris Gelfand of Israel. The other three games ended in draws.

The Kramnik-Nakamura game was the last to finish, but also the one with the biggest resonance. It was the third time that Kramnik lost a white game to Nakamura, who now has a plus score against the Russian (+4, =7, -3). Besides... when was the last time that Kramnik started a tournament with two losses?

The game went far from smooth for Nakamura. White got out of the opening, a Fianchetto King's Indian, with a clear advantage. However, from move 24 onwards Kramnik started to play a bit strangely, and he allowed his opponent to get back into the game. It went from bad to worse for Kramnik, who found himself in a lost ending after the time control.

Hikaru Nakamura bounced back with Black

It was a good day for the black pieces because the second decisive game, Caruana-Gelfand, was another '0-1'. The players didn't shy away from great complications in one of the most theoretical lines of the Najdorf, English Attack. In fact, these days it is mostly seen in correspondence games!

Only at move 26 the first new move was played, but it is unlikely that Caruana was aware of that. From that moment it became clear that black's knights were stronger than white's bishops, and Gelfand's king was safer too. Caruana had one chance to trade queens, which he probably should have taken.

An excellent Najdorf by Boris Gelfand

Viswanathan Anand started his tournament with a loss, and in the second round he looked shaky again. Well, at least his king did! The Indian got three pawns in return for some scary moments, but found a way to reach a rook ending where had much less to worry about. Afterwards the players agreed that with 23.Rd1!? White would have had slightly better winning chances.

Vishy Anand & Dmitry Andreikin showing their game

Karjakin-Carlsen, the game between the best players on the planet born in 1990, was a bit of a dull draw. This is usually what happens in the 5.Re1 line of the Berlin Ruy Lopez, but not before Black has suffered a bit. Carlsen himself was one of the first top players to demonstrate that Black has to be careful, in his white game against Anand, in 2010 in Nanjing.

In this game the Norwegian wasn't careful enough, because his plan to run with the a-pawn was "very dubious", as he said after the game. Opening the a-file turned out to be good for White, but still Karjakin didn't find a good way to make progress.

A draw between the two sponsored players from 1990

Alexander Morozevich and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov also split the point, but they played a very interesting game. In this Caro-Kann Advance, White's pawn sacrifice looked quite promising but it seems that Morozevich missed a good follow-up. The endgame was probably about even all the time.

Mamedyarov and Morozevich after the game

This means that  Gelfand,  Mamedyarov and Carlsen are sharing the lead after two rounds, with 1.5 points. Except Anand and Kramnik, all other players have 1 point.

2013 Tal Memorial | Results & pairings

Round 1 15:00 MSK 13.06.13   Round 2 15:00 MSK 14.06.13
Andreikin ½-½ Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Mamedyarov
Anand 0-1 Caruana   Kramnik 0-1 Nakamura
Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik   Caruana 0-1 Gelfand
Nakamura 0-1 Mamedyarov   Andreikin ½-½ Anand
Round 3 15:00 MSK 15.06.13   Round 4 15:00 MSK 17.06.13
Anand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Kramnik
Gelfand - Andreikin   Karjakin - Mamedyarov
Carlsen - Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Nakamura - Karjakin   Andreikin - Carlsen
Mamedyarov - Kramnik   Anand - Gelfand
Round 5 15:00 MSK 18.06.13   Round 6 15:00 MSK 19.06.13
Gelfand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Karjakin
Carlsen - Anand   Caruana - Kramnik
Nakamura - Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Anand - Nakamura
Kramnik - Karjakin   Gelfand - Carlsen
Round 7 15:00 MSK 21.06.13   Round 8 15:00 MSK 22.06.13
Carlsen - Morozevich   Morozevich - Caruana
Nakamura - Gelfand   Andreikin - Karjakin
Mamedyarov - Anand   Anand - Kramnik
Kramnik - Andreikin   Gelfand - Mamedyarov
Karjakin - Caruana   Carlsen - Nakamura
Round 9 13:00 MSK 23.06.13        
Nakamura - Morozevich        
Mamedyarov - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Anand        
Caruana - Andreikin        

2013 Tal Memorial | Round 2 standings

# Player Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Points SB
1 Gelfand,B 2755 * ½ 1 1.5/2 1.50
2 Mamedyarov,S 2753 * ½ 1 1.5/2 1.50
3 Carlsen,M 2864 * ½ 1 1.5/2 0.50
4 Karjakin,S 2782 ½ ½ * 1.0/2 1.50
5 Morozevich,A 2760 ½ * ½ 1.0/2 1.25
6 Andreikin,D 2713 ½ * ½ 1.0/2 0.75
7 Caruana,F 2774 0 * 1 1.0/2 0.50
8 Nakamura,H 2784 0 * 1 1.0/2 0.00
9 Anand,V 2786 ½ 0 * 0.5/2
10 Kramnik,V 2803 0 0 * 0.0/2

The 8th Tal Memorial takes place June 12-23, 2013 at the technology center Digital October in Moscow, Russia. The total prize fund is 100,000 EUR. The official website is providing live games, streaming video and commentary in Russian by GMs Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Sergey Rublevsky and Sergey Shipov. The games start each day at 15:00 local time which is 16:00 CET, 10:00 EDT and 07:00 PDT. The last round starts two hours earlier. Photos © Eteri Kublashvili courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation. Games via TWIC.

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