Reports | November 16, 2011 18:47

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

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

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

Event Tal Memorial 2011PGN via TWIC
Dates November 16th-25th, 2011
Location Moscow, Russia
System 10-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Karjakin, Nakamura, Svidler, Gelfand, Nepomniachtchi
Rate of play 100 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
Notes Draw 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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Anand vs Karjakin | Photo © RCF

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

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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 1 16.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 2 17.11.11 12:00 CET
Aronian ½ ½ Carlsen   Carlsen - Gelfand
Kramnik 0-1 Nepomniachtchi   Karjakin - Nakamura
Ivanchuk 1-0 Svidler   Svidler - Anand
Anand ½ ½ Karjakin   Nepomniachtchi - Ivanchuk
Nakamura ½ ½ Gelfand   Aronian - Kramnik
Round 3 18.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 4 19.11.11 12:00 CET
Kramnik - Carlsen   Carlsen - Karjakin
Ivanchuk - Aronian   Svidler - Gelfand
Anand - Nepomniachtchi   Nepomniachtchi - Nakamura
Nakamura - Svidler   Aronian - Anand
Gelfand - Karjakin   Kramnik - Ivanchuk
Round 5 20.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 6 22.11.11 12:00 CET
Ivanchuk - Carlsen   Carlsen - Svidler
Anand - Kramnik   Nepomniachtchi - Karjakin
Nakamura - Aronian   Aronian - Gelfand
Gelfand - Nepomniachtchi   Kramnik - Nakamura
Karjakin   Svidler   Ivanchuk - Anand
Round 7 23.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 8 24.11.11 12:00 CET
Anand - Carlsen   Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi
Nakamura - Ivanchuk   Aronian - Svidler
Gelfand - Kramnik   Kramnik - Karjakin
Karjakin - Aronian   Ivanchuk - Gelfand
Svidler - Nepomniachtchi   Anand - Nakamura
Round 9 25.11.11 10:00 CET        
Nakamura - Carlsen        
Gelfand - Anand        
Karjakin - Ivanchuk        
Svidler - Kramnik        
Nepomniachtchi - Aronian        


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


columbo's picture

Amazing Ivantchuk ! what a game. Liked the Aronian/ Carlsen match as well, even though Aronian missed the bishop line at the end

mathias's picture

hi, where the press conferences can be seen. Always interesting to see the players explainations

bronkenstein's picture , Nepo comments his victory @ 19:08 (on Russian) , Vishy + Karjak (English)@ 18:59:50 , Aronian + Carlsen @ 20:38:10 (mostly english) , Naka + Gelfand @ 18:44:26 ( russian/english mix WARNING awful sound quality , not recommended , Naka basically only replied to journalist`s question ´How do you like it in moscow´ by `So far so good`).

Anonymous's picture

Why is such a big upset Kramnik losing to Nepo? Should be an obvious result, really, Kramnik is way past his prime

Abbas's picture

So there must be something wrong with his rating.

pöcix ógió's picture

because he lost an absolutely drawish position.

Anonymous's picture

"absolutely" drawish...Which game have you been watching?

S3's picture

It's not a big upset since Nepomniachi is an incredibly talented player who is still improving, but Kramnik is clearly not yet past his prime and I really think that he will come back strong in this tournament.

Webbimio's picture

where were you this summer?

lefier's picture

Nice to see the friendly atmosphere in the Carlsen/Aronian interview

Mark Crowther's picture

You're dead right. This was a really nice back and forth between the players and what seemed like a nice combination of post-mortem, conversation and a genuine attempt to be entertaining and informative. I got the impression they were trying to confuse each other during the game and they didn't really know what they should be playing for for a while. The ending "I think" they decided it was a draw after Bc7 but that forum probably wasn't the right place to analyse this. But I got the feeling that we got to the heart of why 50.Bc7 wasn't played by Aronian, he missed the tale-end winner Bh4-g3 in one line. Shows how deep they were calculating though. The Russians are getting this right and letting some of the post-mortems go ahead in English and others in Russian worked for me.

Excalibur's picture

I don't think Kramnik is way past his prime, but its true that it should not be a surprise that Nepo won as he can outplay anyone when he actually concentrates on a game and maximizes his time.

S3's picture

Exactly. Nepo usually has at least half an hour extra time on his clock when a game is finished, whether he wins or loses. Imagine how strong he could be if he would be able to use that time properly!

guest01's picture

Kramnik paid for trying too hard.

Komski's picture

Kramnik is not perfect or a machine, audience. There are spectators out there that believe that you can judge a players whole strength by a loss to a lower rated opponent. That logic is dangerous and most likely false. In my opinion, Kramnik would surely beat Nepo in match play!

mircelalettin's picture

The importance of center in chess. Perfect "On the job training" for Kramnik. Fianchetto development with no center pawn is no good play for an ex world champion. Nepo is a promising guy and I think it will be a tough match against Ivanchuk. Kramnik winning against Aronian with Black seems improbable. Go Nepo.

redivivo's picture

Nepomniachtchi just played the European Team Championship that Kramnik declined so he could prepare better for this tournament, Kramnik had white, played the novelty, and even had more time on the clock for a while (something that rarely happens against Nepomniachtchi). Still Kramnik was just outplayed, not often you see that happen when he's white against the lowest rated player in a field.

Thomas Richter's picture

Is Carlsen also past his prime? After all, he lost with white against Nepomniachtchi (Wijk aan Zee 2011)!

For Nepo, this was part of a rollercoaster ride - final score +3=6-4. Carlsen won a few tournaments later on this ongoing year, so did Kramnik.

Anonymous's picture

Comparing apples with oranges. Kramnik is getting older and his performance is declining while Carlsen matures and his performance is improving. Nothing common between the two.

redivivo's picture

"Is Carlsen also past his prime?"

Who said that Kramnik is past his prime?

Nicholas's picture

What color is Carlsen's suit? it seems brown. Bad taste.

MJul's picture

Violet or "ripe grape" (as I read somewhere).

I love it!

The King's picture

Not expecting Anand to play to his full potential. I don't think he'll even slightly show his opening preparation... Just like Corus-10. Also don't think Anand will last after Gelfand... Carlsen/Aronian/Nakamura would just be too strong by then. So he might as well conceal his preparation and deploy it against Gelfand & reign for another couple of years.

jan van der marel's picture

As always before a upcoming match, Anand will only play draws and collect his starting money.

Nicholas's picture

I think all these Carlsen statements before the event, on Nakamura working with Kasparov, has harmed his image. He's obviously upset with this collaboration, and was tryring to satisfy his ego.

If Carlsen could beat Nakamura, than I would say, yes, he's obviously stronger. But what I've seen from the last events, is certainly not clear-cut.

So maybe he should try and beat Nakamura, instead of speaking too much, outside the board!

redivivo's picture

"If Carlsen could beat Nakamura, than I would say, yes, he's obviously stronger"

Carlsen is #1, Nakamura #10, and Carlsen is 3-0 against Nakamura. Of course he is the stronger player of the two at the moment, but even if Nakamura isn't top five now he may be it in a not too distant future.

Anand fan's picture

I am an Anand fan, but just to comment on Carlsen - Nakamura:

As someone said above CArlsen has a +3 score against Nakamura and is World No.1. Carlsen is a phnomenon, NAkamura is just a talented guy, one of many out there.

Sure Kasparov's help means a lot, but when you play the game (let alone a match) it is you against the other guy, so with or without Kasparov - on the board is Nakamura on his own and I doubt he stands a chance against MAgnus.

Remember Bobby Fischer in 1972 - he prepared for the Spasky match on his own, with some minor assistnace from aAjdorf... we all know the score...

I think that an entire concept of trainer/mentor is way too exaggerated in Chess. Anish Giri, enterred the 2,700 club at 17y old, until 16 he never had a personal coach and went to high-school like all the ordinary kids, played chess in his free time for fun...

Nakamura... definitely not a WCC class, never will be...

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