June 13, 2013 19:13

Carlsen, Caruana, Mamedyarov start with wins at Tal Memorial

Carlsen, Caruana, Mamedyarov start with wins at Tal Memorial

Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won their first games at the Tal Memorial in Moscow, Russia. On Thursday, Mamedyarov defeated Hikaru Nakamura quickly with the black pieces from a Ragozin. Caruana slowly outplayed Vishy Anand, also with Black, in a Ruy Lopez and Carlsen beat Kramnik in a bishop ending, where the opening was the rare Trompovsky.

The 8th Tal Memorial started for real on Thursday with the first regular round. And what a round! There was the top encounter between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, there were fancy openings like the Sicilian Dragon and the Trompowsky and there was the crushing defeat of the blitz winner. Wow!

As it turned out, the tables, chairs and chess sets were placed in a rather small room, where photographers are allowed for the first ten minutes, and after that only the cameras of Chess.TV, the company that is providing the video broadcast.

However, there is a big room where live commentary is provided by Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Shipov and Sergey Rublevsky (today Svidler and Grischuk), unfortunately in Russian only. The grandmasters speak to the local spectators (who are stimulated to ask questions), but the audio is streamed over the internet together with the video footage. We may add that the venue, Digital October (part of the former Red October chocolate factory), is also the location of the Chess.TV company so that's pretty convenient for everyone.

Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk and Chess.TV's Mark Gluhovsky | Photo © Lennart Ootes

What's a bit funny about this new setup is that the spectators can't actually see the players; they are not allowed to enter the actual playing hall. But there's a thought behind that too: this way the spectators will be able to attend the press conferences, while normally these are only attended by media.

Hikaru Nakamura set some expectations after his convincing victory at the pre-tournament blitz event, but in the first round he was actually the first to lose. In a Ragozin, the American somehow didn't find the best setup for his pieces and when he exchanged pawns in the centre, Black got nice piece play. Then, only a few moves later, the Azerbaijani could start a winning attack on the white king.

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Mamedyarov playing a Ragozin against Nakamura | Photo © Lennart Ootes

Boris Gelfand and Sergey Karjakin drew a main line Catalan where White managed to prevent Black's typical liberating move ...c7-c5 by cementing his bishop on a5 with b2-b4. The Israeli kept a slight edge throughout the game, but just before the time control he went for a huge exchange operation that led to a drawn rook ending. Strong defence by Karjakin, who came up with a lot of accurate moves.

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The press conference with Gelfand and Karjakin | Photo © Eteri Kublashvili

It was nice to see one of the most interesting lines of the Sicilian Dragon tested out at top evel, in the all-Russian encounter Dmitry Andreikin versus Alexander Morozevich. White's 10.Kb1!? Bxd4 11.e5!? was invented in the 1990s (the first grandmaster who played it was Leonid Milov, in a game against Dragon expert Mikhail Golubev in 1994). In the game, Andreikin reached a slightly better rook ending but Black's king activity saved the day for Morozevich.

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Morozevich and Andreikin at the press conference | Photo © Eteri Kublashvili

Fabiano Caruana then defeated Vishy Anand from the black side of a Closed Ruy Lopez. White played the Anti-Marshall with 8.h3, but since a few years black players have been trying lines where Black goes ...d5 anyway. Apparently the Italian felt well enough prepared to test it against the World Champion, perhaps supported by the game Dominguez-Ponomariov, Thessaloniki 2013 where Black got a very easy draw.

A few moves later Caruana found a nice pawn sac and an excellent follow-up with ...g5, as if he was insisting to play the game in Marshall style! It worked out well; the way Anand gave back the pawn was probably not the best, Black got a nice ending and converted by playing attacking moves till the end.

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Anand and Caruana sharing some thoughts right after the game | Photo © Lennart Ootes

Vladimir Kramnik might have a point when he argues that "most games with Black" as the first tiebreak rule is reason enough to want five black games in the tournament. However, facing Magnus Carlsen in the very first round was perhaps not what he intended when he picked lot number 7. :-) The game saw an original start, with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5!? - the Trompovsky.

Usually I don't get much in my white games against Vladimir, so I tried to play something a bit non-theoretical and be the first to surprise,

said Carlsen at the press conference. This prompted one of the spectators to ask whether he was hiding opening preparation for his world title match against Anand. Carlsen:

As you saw today, the emphasis was not really on winning in the opening. As long as I'm in good form, and I have a good attitude towards the games, I can do very well. It may not depend too much on opening preparation. I probably won't play all my ideas for the World Championship here, but that's probably because I don't know what they are yet!

The Norwegian finished saying:

For me the present tournament is always the most important one so that's what I'm going to focus on for the next week or so.

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A good start for Carlsen, beating Kramnik in the first round | Photo © Lennart Ootes

Tal Memorial 2013 | Results & pairings

Round 1 13:00 CET 13.06.13   Round 2 13:00 CET 14.06.13
Andreikin ½-½ Morozevich   Morozevich - Mamedyarov
Anand 0-1 Caruana   Kramnik - Nakamura
Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik   Caruana - Gelfand
Nakamura 0-1 Mamedyarov   Andreikin - Anand
Round 3 13:00 CET 15.06.13   Round 4 13:00 CET 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 13:00 CET 18.06.13   Round 6 13:00 CET 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 13:00 CET 21.06.13   Round 8 13:00 CET 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 11:00 CET 23.06.13        
Nakamura - Morozevich        
Mamedyarov - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Anand        
Caruana - Andreikin        

Tal Memorial 2013 | Round 1 standings


Below are some more photos of the first round by Lennart Ootes:

The relatively small playing hall behind glass, in fact hidden for local spectators

In a much bigger room, grandmasters of the very same top level gave commentary all day...

for many dozens of specators (including Henrik Carlsen, Peter Heine Nielsen
and Arthur Kogan at the back), who must have had a great time...

...also when a player explained his game (and the excellent translator Mikhail Strovsky made sure everyone understands)

Carlsen making the final move 72.Bg8+...

...Kramnik offering his hand...

...and resigned the game

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

Great start! Impressive Magnus Carlsen outplaying Vladimir Kramnik in a perfect game.

Eadon's picture

Carlsen beat Kramnik. He always has easy results against the weak players. However he's being matched by Caruna - should be a fun tourney! Bit of a blow for the WC though, with the match coming up in India to live up to.

Anonymous's picture

Everybody is weaker than Carlsen ! Except you and S3

Anonymous's picture

That's an offense to S5, Sir

S9's picture


patzer :)'s picture

lol :)ahhahahhahah

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen shouldn't have won. It was a clear draw. As always overrated Carslen gets free rating points.

Remco Gerlich's picture

The opening position is a clear draw too, and yet people do win it.

Creemer's picture


Andreas's picture

+1 indeed

Andreas's picture

I mean @Remco of course, not Anonymous

Aditya's picture

That's not really accurate. It 'seems' likely today that the opening position is a clear draw. The day we know for certain that the opening position is a clear draw, chess will be solved :)

Having said that, I'm all for Carlsen persisting in the endgames. Only if all his stubborn endeavors were failures, his opponents have reason to grumble. Until then, the only approach would be to sit down and calculate. As my soccer playing friend says "A penalty kick is not a goal, you still need to execute it".

NN's picture

The opening position certainly is a draw. People who don't know this are very weak players.

Anonymous's picture

There's nothing you can substantiate this statement with, other than some common prejudices.

Aditya's picture

'Certainly' is a word that often uses the crutches of assumptions. The opening is a certain draw if the player has the option of passing his move (Claude Shannon's 1950 paper). This is not the case, white may be winning or in zugzwang before the game begins, we do not know for sure yet :)

Anonymous's picture

That's because he faced such a weak player. He always gets free rating points against them.

Harry_Flashman's picture


Hernán Ruiz's picture

Again this word overrated! Your envy blind you.

Anonymous's picture

He wanted to say "highest rated" probably. The heat of the moment, you know ....

Pusaeus's picture

You don't know much about chess, do you? Do you know how the pieces move?
If Kramnik hadn't played that badly, he wouldn't have lost.

Thomas Oliver's picture

True, but Kramnik pleayed bad as all the other loosers did and will continue to do so.

Now it is up to you to let them play bad against you as well.

Morley's picture

Ouch. After playing quite well and finishing 1-2 in the blitz, Naka and Anand begin the main event with miserable losses with White in the first round. Complacency? Over-confidence? Revenge-fueled opponents?

Great game by Magnus. He played an off-beat opening, kept the pressure on and played accurately in a dynamic middlegame, won a pawn, and outplayed Kramnik in the ending. Couldn't ask for a better start.

Kramnik did play very well however, and he was defending quite brilliantly for most of the game. It's a shame he messed up towards the end. His h4+?! move makes sense as an idea, since it is one way to trade pawns right away, but he got lost in the ensuing complications.

Kramnik is probably really regretting taking extra Blacks, as that gambit was kind of relying on a draw with Magnus in order to get the tiebreak advantage. This is a short event and he really has his work cut out for him now.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"Predictably", the blitz event already looks like a poor predictor for the classical main course: certainly Caruana won't finish dead last, Karjakin is unlikely to score -2 and (already before the round) I was also skeptical about Nakamura's chances to win the "main" Tal Memorial.

As to Carlsen-Kramnik, I will wait for more qualified opinions - I wouldn't be too surprised if someone told me that this (and the two other decisive games of today's round) were blitz rather than classical. Not sure where Kramnik went wrong and if he even had to lose or sacrifice a pawn. And towards the end (exchanging rooks seems like the end even though many more moves were played) I wonder what he missed: if only he could move again straight after 45.-Kxf6 then -Be4 followed by -Bxg2 would have been a standard draw, but that's of course hypothetical.

Morley's picture

What about this game makes it look like a blitz game? Both players played ~50 near-perfect moves before Kramnik made some mistakes.

Anonymous's picture

It was only a blitz game because Kramnik lose. That game doesn't count as a 'fair' win for Carlsen, he's a lucky patzer. Analysis will prove that draw was the logical result.

Hernán Ruiz's picture

Calling Carlsen a "lucky patzer"!! You are not only a envious guy, but also plain stupid.

Cbbishop's picture

Everybody who says Carlsen is lucky because his opponents blunder miss the point.
It's always the other guy who blunders, and he knows that.
He has the confidence to play theoretical draws to the end,
because he knows he won't blunder.

Coco Loco's picture

It's likely Kramnik thought the B+2p vs B endgame was a draw due to the "wrong"-colored h8 square. According to the live transmission, tablebases say 40 move checkmate after the rooks are traded. (46...d2 was also not the toughest defence.)

Chris's picture

it has been expected that Carlsen will push. Kramnik spoke that he deserve to win candidates not Carlsen. So it is the strong response. Lose ate home.

Thomas Oliver's picture

To my knowledge, Kramnik himself never said that he deserved to win the candidates event more than Carlsen. Some observers said so - and not just Russian ones but also Dutch ones who initially or overall were somewhat in favor of Carlsen (but still looked at the chess being played in London).
And Carlsen himself made the Carlsen fanboy statement that he "fully deserved to win", "had everything under control until round 11" (what about a losing position against Radjabov?) and "played the best chess".

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen, he doesn't understand chess. Chess beauty is different from his simple game. Where are the great games of Kramnik, Kasparov and Topalov? Carlsen plays incorrect chess. They should ban him from the chess circuit.

Anonymous's picture

yeah, sure, who the heck thinks he is? playing hard his every move, always trying to create problems for his opponents. Ban Carlsen and bring an stylist like, like er, Caruana.

CentrKentr's picture

Yeah, Carlsen is not good, just lucky; his pieces almost always seem to end up on the right squares.

Anonymous's picture

"Where are the great games of Kramnik, Kasparov and Topalov"

Yes where are they - compared to the fascinating beauty of Calsen's endgame brilliance? ;-)

Anonymous's picture

I'm sick of seeing Carlsen play only lower rated players. Everyone else in this tournament will play somebody higher rated, but Carlsen will only face players weaker than himself. What a coward.

Kronsteen's picture

I agree completely. But it is cowardice on his part, or a conspiracy between FIDE and the organizers?

Anonymous's picture

I can't understand, there must be something wrong. It's not fair play, Carlsen presses too much. But Caruana will save the beautiful game.

filiusdextris's picture

Bad day for certain CV posters. That bishop endgame was quite enjoyable.

Anonymous's picture

IT WAS A DRAW! IT WAS A DRAW! There are clear variations Kramnik blundered because he was short of time. They keep unjustly losing to extremely lucky Carlsen. That's not chess. Can't you all see it? Kramnik can play a million times more beautiful chess.

Anonymous's picture

There's an old egyptian saying "It ain't over before the fat lady sings". I guess that's why Magnus just keeps playing on for a bit and eventually outplays former world champions. Kramnik is no exception in that respect.

S4's picture

All of us Sx's agree to that

S12's picture

I concur

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen's lucky win today had nothing to do with chess, especially when it comes to beating Kramnik.

Andy's picture

Anonymous@ oh mama you take the cake...I realy enjoy your personality and your comments.lol....Thomas Oliver just become a shadow of himself

AC's picture

I don't understand why everybody is so angry:
What does "it was draw" mean ? You looked at your engine and it wrote 0.00?
That doesn't reflect practical chances and dynamics of the position. It doensn't take into account the long hours of play, the psychology of the players etc.
Chess is game between humans, not a faultless computer game! What did you expect?
Turn off your engine, go play the positions ten times against a friend, analyse the position some more...then decide if it is a draw...in practice !

Fishy's picture

It was not a draw. Carlsen had the far superior pawn structure.

Lucas Tanner's picture

Kramnik should have drawn, even my granny could have drawn that game. But somehow it seems everyone playing against Carlsen gets incompetent. Carlsen will enter to history as one of the luckiest players ever.

Anonymous's picture

I think we should recommed your granny to the Tal Memorial organizers for next year ;-)

Is it wrong to say that Kramnik obviously didn't draw because he was unable to? It seems that Carlsen not only plays the superior chess, but also keeps pressing when the grannies want to call it a day.

MarianC's picture

super LOL !

Anonymous's picture

Of course, he's always matched against players with lower ratings.


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