Reports | November 17, 2011 19:05

Carlsen beats Gelfand in Tal Memorial second round

Carlsen beats Gelfand in Tal Memorial second round

Magnus Carlsen won against Boris Gelfand in the second round of the Tal Memorial in Moscow, Russia. The Norwegian joined Vassily Ivanchuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi in the lead as the other games all ended in draws.

Magnus Carlsen, co-leader after two rounds in Moscow | Photo © RCF

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

The second round of the super strong Tal Memorial saw only once decisive game. In a very interesting encounter which started as a 4...Bf5 Slav, Magnus Carlsen increased the pressure more and more up to the point when his opponent Boris Gelfand started to make almost inevitable mistakes. In a position with opposite castling both kings got under fire, and Black got two rooks on the first rank in what was a very sharp middlegame:

PGN string

Boris Gelfand resigns his game against Magnus Carlsen

Before that, Peter Svidler and Vishy Anand had already agreed to a draw. The World Champion has been playing the Caro-Kann a lot lately, and his repertoire seems rock solid.

PGN string

Svidler and Anand at the press conference, where the Russian GM translated the World Champ's words into Russian for the local journalists

Vladimir Kramnik, however, didn't follow his regular repertoire. For this level, the Semi-Tarrasch is a rare guest:

PGN string

Levon Aronian, caught by surprise in the opening

Sergey Karjakin played against Hikaru Nakamura, who played his and The Boss's favourite Najdorf. Karjakin, who sometimes works with Kasparov's former second Yuri Dokhoian, picked a line that was popular a few years ago. Black was never in serious trouble.

PGN string

Maria Fominykh hosts a press conference with... Sergey Karjakin, the famous Russian pentathlon athlete who visited the tournament today and was eager to meet Sergey Karjakin!

In the longest game of the round Ivanchuk slowly outplayed Nepomniachtchi with Black and eventually won a pawn, but the resulting knight ending was probably always a draw.

PGN string

Vassily Ivanchuk tried to win for long, but his opponent didn't crack

Tal Memorial 2011 | Round 2 Standings


Schedule and pairings

Round 1 16.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 2 17.11.11 12:00 CET
Aronian ½ ½ Carlsen   Carlsen 1-0 Gelfand
Kramnik 0-1 Nepomniachtchi   Karjakin ½ ½ Nakamura
Ivanchuk 1-0 Svidler   Svidler ½ ½ Anand
Anand ½ ½ Karjakin   Nepomniachtchi ½ ½ Ivanchuk
Nakamura ½ ½ Gelfand   Aronian ½ ½ 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.


Nicholas's picture

It's too bad the standings are not given. Even if they are not very relevant after two rounds, I believe they give the reader, a global overview of the event.

Nicholas's picture

Just realized they were there, sorry.

sulutas's picture

Actually the final result of Ivanchuk v Nepo game created a little bit of confusion; officially it was 0-1 first and some commentators in chessbomb even dared to say that Nepo couldn't handle the pressure in the ending :-) However, it was so obvious in the prefect video broadcast of the game that it was actually Ivanchuk who first reached his hand to Nepo to agree for a draw.

Pulern's picture

Since Magnus first topped the rating list in January 2010,
-he has been #1 for 9 out 12 lists.
-his highest rating is 2026 (three times).
-His biggest lead over #2 is 23 points

After round 2 he is live rated at 2030, with a 20 point lead over Anand and Aronian. MC is looking good to break two personal records on the next list and he is closing in on Kasparov´s Legendary 2851 record...

Niima's picture

Hi Peter,

Given the (minor) commotion at the beginning of the first round, I suggest having a contest on chessvibes for who can come up with the funniest caption for the picture of Ivanchuk and Svidler (where Ivanchuk is raising his arm) as seen on

It should be great fun!

Xeno's picture

That first pic of Kramnik is kind of begging for a caption too.

Niima's picture

True! :-)

Bert de Bruut's picture

The comment "and the b-pawn promotes" at the end of the Carlsen-Gelfand game is not very precise, it's more like "and black loses the rook or is mated"...

S3's picture

"Carlsen increased the pressure until Gelfand made mistakes" is a bit over the top as it looks to me that it was black who had the initiative. Carlsen was able to work out the complications faster (and had more time after the opening) and in the end Gelfand got into time trouble resulting in suboptimal moves and the eventual blunder.

The post game analysis video shows also the fallacy of the myth of Carlsen playing suboptimal moves on purpose with the aim of increasing his practical chances. When he played d5 and Bc3 f.e., he didn't really see the alternatives/didn't evaluate them properly, like a normal human.
Anyway, it was a great game and saved the day as most of the other games were pretty boring.

eh's picture

Well, I prefer to put my trust in the russian commentator: "we can clearly see how White are outplaying his opponent in a very complicated position which is in my opinion much harder to play for White than for Black ... fantastic play by Magnus in a very unclear position!" And chessbase: "Carlsen once more played the most complex game of the round, with mindboggling complications against Gelfand."

S3's picture

Chessbase is no serious source of course, but I'm willing to believe the Russian commentator if only I would know his name!

Thomas Richter's picture

The "Russian commentator" is Arkadij Naiditsch at Chessbomb - at least he wrote the very same words _near the end of the game_. Earlier while the game was in full swing he kept changing his mind; generally it seems that he heavily relies on engine evaluations during his live commentary.

Anonymous's picture

All these commentators are biased towards the favorites. Besides, they all use computer analysis. So the Russian commentator, even though a grandmaster, was Carlsen-biased. It is rare to see commentators offering original, unbiased analysis during the course of a game.

Excalibur's picture

Magnus as usual is a beast. Im surprised Gelfand did not go for the solid e6, Be7 he used against Nakamura.

Thomas Richter's picture

The Slav is normally also as solid as it gets - unless it was Gelfand's initial intention to castle queenside thus "playing for three results".

As to "Carlsen increased the pressure" ... : my impression is that he made a couple of strong (only?) defensive moves, neutralizing the black threats to emerge with an advantage. At the same time, he did increase Gelfand's time pressure. But my amateur understanding of the game (this particular one and chess in general) is obviously limited.

Anonymous's picture

No need to feel bad about that, even some grandmasters have limited understanding of the game.

maybe's picture

If Carlsen goes on like this he should never ever dare to get on Swedish turf, he'd end up sharing a cell with other "rapists". Well done!

David Korn's picture

Caption, Ivanchuk:

'First Svidler acts like he speaks tucking English better than all of us, then Magnus with his tucking OJ, and I am reduced to memorizing Russian Poetry, in the bathroom so as not to be forced to read The Games of Topalov, Naka wants to be Smallville, so the tuck am I? Are you kidding me?'

Nicholas's picture

"and his repertoire seems rocky solid."

Somehow, rocky solid doesn't seem correct. Better would be "rock solid".

Bobby Fiske's picture

PETER: Tal Memorial use the football score system. Maybe you should add another column in your standings table?

PS: Your game diagrams have great functionality! I like that it shows also the alternative moves in the text.

PS PS: Will you add smartphone functionality to for easier read when on the move?

Peter Doggers's picture

They're not using the football score system. Thx about the diagrams and yes, we intend to improve the user experience for smartphones too.

Nicholas's picture

Kasparov's 2851, shaking. Once Anand and Kramnik out, playing against computers will be the only support for Magnus to improve.

mr cat's picture

Thanks for the quick reports, Chessvibes! You are faster off the mark than some competitors!

MamedyarovFan's picture

And I really enjoy the quality of Peter Doggers reports. Of course when he actually has time to go to tournaments, the ensuing reports are fantastic for quality video, text, anecdotes etc.

Nicholas's picture

Carlsen being strategically destroyed by Kramnik! I think Carlsen's rating might overestimnated.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, right, to see the game again? Carlsen is a beast, and Kramnik is just sad to watch, it is unbelievable that a supposed top grandmaster can mess it up that awfully.

redivivo's picture

Carlsen's mistake was taking the draw in a won position but draw with black against Kramnik is never a bad result and he's shared first after two blacks against 2800 opponents in three rounds.

Anonymous's picture

Both of them messed up awfully. None of them understood what was going on in the game. Just the engines had a clue.

Guillaume's picture

What makes you think engines understand chess, exactly?

MJul's picture

And none of them were "quick & simple games".

redivivo's picture

The thing that surprises me most after following a great game between two great players at their most entertaining like Kramnik-Carlsen is that there are so many people that only post about it to say that both players are useless as soon as they don't play the first line of the engines (that often turns out to be worse than the move they played). And it's all about Carlsen being overrated in spite of leading the tournament, with a very tough draw especially in the first rounds (and after having won his three latest tournaments!), or about Kramnik being mindbendingly weak, as someone put it at Chessbomb. Fascinating.

Thomas Richter's picture

Some people are never happy with what they get from the world top, or just enjoy complaining. If these guys play "correct" chess, it's uninspired and a boring draw - this is what people write about Anand.

That being said, I am surprised that Carlsen got away with what was, to put it mildly, very provocative chess - but who am I? Kramnik might have thought that his advantage is overwhelming and the win just a matter of time, such things do also happen in (my) amateur games. Another story is whether he objectively (engine verdict ...) ever had a BIG advantage.

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