Reports | November 25, 2011 15:57

Carlsen catches Aronian in last round, wins Tal Memorial on tiebreak

Carlsen catches Aronian in last round, wins Tal Memorial on tiebreak

Magnus Carlsen caught Levon Aronian in the Tal Memorial final standings on Friday in Moscow, Russia. The Norwegian defeated Hikaru Nakamura and finished shared first with the Armenian, who drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi. This means that Carlsen won the tournament on the first tiebreak rule: number of black games. In the last round Peter Svidler defeated Vladimir Kramnik.

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

Photographers at work at the start of the final round

Yet another big one for Magnus Carlsen. The Norwegian, who will turn 21 in six days, won so many tournaments in recent years that it's not a surprise to see him finishing first in Moscow as well.

However, somehow it came as a small surprise anyway, because not many had really thought about what the the tiebreak rules would mean for the tournament situation. Just before he was going to show his win over Hikaru Nakamura, Carlsen was asked about his chances to win overall. His answer made clear that he had done some calculations himself:

If Ian [Nepomniachtchi] wins, he has a better tiebreak than me. But I don't really care.

Because Levon Aronian managed to draw this game, Carlsen finished first together with the Armenian.

The final handshake that finished the Tal Memorial

The first tiebreak rule decided matters: number of black games. Carlsen played with the black pieces five times, Aronian four. The two did share the first two money prizes of 30,000 and 20,000 Euros.

Carlsen not only did a good job behind the chess board; also behind the computer screen he was in great form as he explained his game as an experienced trainer. As we did in previous rounds, we entered all his lines and comments for you for replay:

PGN string

Carlsen beats Nakamura in the last round to clinch first place

Last seed Ian Nepomniachtchi played a fine tournament. In the first round he started with a win against Kramnik, and in the end he almost won the tournament. In the last round it was Aronian who had to defend for the whole game:

PGN string

A fighting draw between Nepomniachtchi and Aronian

Aronian won't mind too much that officially he's not the winner. An undefeated +2 in this super strong tournament means that he's now won 13.3 rating points for the January 2012 list, not long after passing the 2800 barrier. Carlsen's virtual rating is 2829 at the moment.

World Cup winner Peter Svidler eventually finished OK with a 50% score thanks to a last-round win against Vladimir Kramnik. The former World Champion cannot be satisfied with -2 and not a single victory.

PGN string

Svidler beat his compatriot Kramnik with a nice little mating combination at the end

Ivanchuk played an excellent game with Black against Karjakin and almost won. How deep he calculated becomes clear in the lines below - not to be missed!

PGN string

Great play by Ivanchuk, but Karjakin was solid until the end

The last round also included what was probably the last classical game between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand, before they will meet for their World Championship match next year, also in Moscow. Let's hope the games of next year will be more interesting.

PGN string

A draw between World Champ and his next Challenger

And so the strongest 10-player round robin ever (certainly rating wise) comes to an end. The younger generation finished on top, with one exception: Hikaru Nakamura. After his glorious victory in Wijk aan Zee in January, the American only managed to come close to his top level in Sao Paulo/Bilbao. He will have another chance soon, at the London Chess Classic where he'll meet Anand, Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik again, and also Adams, Short, McShane and Howell.

Tal Memorial 2011 | Round 9 (Final) 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 ½ ½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½ ½ Karjakin
Ivanchuk 0-1 Aronian   Svidler ½ ½ Gelfand
Anand ½ ½ Nepomniachtchi   Nepomniachtchi ½ ½ Nakamura
Nakamura 0-1 Svidler   Aronian ½ ½ Anand
Gelfand 0-1 Karjakin   Kramnik ½ ½ Ivanchuk
Round 5 20.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 6 22.11.11 12:00 CET
Ivanchuk ½ ½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½ ½ Svidler
Anand ½ ½ Kramnik   Nepomniachtchi ½ ½ Karjakin
Nakamura ½ ½ Aronian   Aronian ½ ½ Gelfand
Gelfand ½ ½ Nepomniachtchi   Kramnik ½ ½ Nakamura
Karjakin ½ ½ Svidler   Ivanchuk ½ ½ Anand
Round 7 23.11.11 12:00 CET   Round 8 24.11.11 12:00 CET
Anand ½ ½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½ ½ Nepomniachtchi
Nakamura 0-1 Ivanchuk   Aronian 1-0 Svidler
Gelfand ½ ½ Kramnik   Kramnik ½ ½ Karjakin
Karjakin ½ ½ Aronian   Ivanchuk ½ ½ Gelfand
Svidler ½ ½ Nepomniachtchi   Anand ½ ½ Nakamura
Round 9 25.11.11 10:00 CET        
Nakamura 0-1 Carlsen        
Gelfand ½ ½ Anand        
Karjakin ½ ½ Ivanchuk        
Svidler 1-0 Kramnik        
Nepomniachtchi ½ ½ Aronian        

Not a bad commentary team for the final round: Grischuk, Sutovsky and the last hour or so... Svidler!

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.


Septimus's picture

Carlsen is a terrific tournament player. This is a good result in a star studded field. Also, a great tournament for Nepo who held is own against the more famous players.

A bit disappointing to see Anand take the safe draw route. Is he turning into a Drawnand?

Chess Fan's picture

Septimus, what is your nationality? I see for a long time that you are biased against Indian players going beyond objectivity.
I am curious. Please share if you don't mind.

Septimus's picture

Nationality is irrelevant. Apparently you have not seen anything long enough, because if you did, you would realize that I have been a staunch supporter of Anand (esp against Topalov). I will also be supporting him during the WCh match. So there, so much for your ridiculous theory.

Chess Base's picture

I suspect you are somewhere from Eastern Europe. My guess would be Serbia or Bulgaria. Please confirm whether I am right.
It does not matter where you are from and whether you are biased against Indians or support World Champion Anand. I use lots of Psychology in chess and I am guessing your nationality from the "body language" of your comments. I want to check whether my science of chess psychology is right. I have never been wrong and wonder I am for the first time in your case.

Septimus's picture

You are dead wrong. Hint: I don't really care for Team Toilet.

Guillaume's picture

Fascinating. Can you guess my nationality with your science? Attention, il y a un piège.

Nigel P's picture

Winning on demand as black - good effort. Well done MC.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen is obviously the player of the year unless something extraordinary happens in London.

Knighk's picture

Aronian should have won in the S-B TieBreaker (24.5 vs MC's 23)

Thomas Richter's picture

Not again these tiebreak discussions .... even if number of games with black is a funny tiebreaker in an event that had six wins with black vs. four with white.

I would just say: well done Levon and Magnus (alphabetic order which is as random as anything else smiley ).

Anonymous's picture

Oh I wished he had won it all. I stayed up 7 hours 12 - 7am pst watching the game. I am his biggest fan.

But I think the idea behind it is that in this type of tournament some players will be playing at a slight disadvantage having more blacks and it is generally accepted that black has an edge. So this is one way of compensating for that disadvantage. The fact that blacks did better in this particular tournament does not really refute the general principle
Of course if it were a double round robin, then I would prefer something like SB
I myself prefer black, because I know the black lines better

Zacalov's picture

"it is generally accepted that black has an edge." LOL clearly you aren't an actual chess player

Lee's picture

I imagine he meant to say - and it is generally accepted that "white" has an edge.

Nicholas's picture

Carlsen 2829.2, Kasparov's 2851 shaking!

Guru's picture

Aronian had one more white so the tie break favors Carlsen. However, Aronian's two wins were against Ivanchuk and Svidler, who both had better results than Gelfand and Nakamura (Carlsen's two victims).

Overall, Aronian played very well, obtaining favorable positions in most of his games, including in the game against Carlsen. In the process, Aronian consolidated his position in the 2800 club.

So congratulations to Carlsen for winning the tournament on tie-break but also congratulations to Aronian for the very successful tournament.

Ben 's picture

Kind of sad that a future world champion, can finish -2 without a win at a prestigious world tournament a few months before the match. The other participant, the current World Champ, couldn't win a game either. Not saying net year's event is going to be a joke, but it would have been a lot better for FIDE had both of them finished near the top.

Parkov's picture

What future World Champion? Kramnik?

unikum's picture

I think he meant Gelfand :) fat chance

Anonymous's picture

:) he means a challenger, I guess.

Parkov's picture

Most blacks is a terrible way to decide a tournament winner

columbo's picture

Congratulations Magnus ! I'm gonna ask Kasparov to come around and train my dog :)

Zacalov Ramsay's picture


columbo's picture

OUAF !!!

Zeblakob's picture

For me, Anand already lost his title in this tourneo.

S3's picture

How can you lose something if you don't lose?

Zeblakob's picture

The problem is that other people are winning where "he" is not losing. My point is, if Anand plays like that in further two tourneo, he loses his title and keeps the paper title. He is a chess prodigy for sure, but when a world champion does not manage to win a single tourneo between 2 WCC matches, then something is wrong.
Assume a world champion who successfully defends his title for 10 years, and has not win a single tourneo during this period!! Who deserves the blame? FIDE? The format? the game of chess itself?

Niima's picture

Petrosian did not win many tournaments during his reign, and he was a worthy champion according to all GM commentaries that I have seen.

Anand is more than a paper champion no matter how many tournaments he does not win. Anyone who wants to claim the title of the best player in the world has to beat him in a match.

placebo_eq_anand's picture

No it's not a title of the best player in the world. It's just title of the world champion.

redivivo's picture


Zeblakob's picture

Of course, he is more than a paper WC, and even he can stay WC for more than 20 years. This was not my point.

TomTom's picture

keep your old Petrosian jokes for yourself

stevefraser's picture

Tigran's problem, like Kramnik, is he did not play to win but not to lose.

Nicholas's picture

Anand's behaviour over the board is shameful. One doesn't play chess, without a fighting spirit. If he is scared to lose, than he should retire.

Betablok's picture

Oh dear boys and girls, you really don't understand Anand. He's working on the ultimate challenge: winning a super gm round robin tournament by drawing all his games. Unfortunately there's always been at least one player to spoil the party by winning a game. By the way there rarely has been such a well deserved world chess champion. Anand won world chess championships winning championship in many categories (matches/tournament, FIDE-split/FIDE-unified title, classical/rapid).

Anonymous's picture

By that logic perhaps all the other players in the tournament should resign since they couldn't score against someone who "doesn't play chess" as you say.

rolla's picture

his team will defend his title for many years to come

S3's picture

Other people are winning, but not against him. At least not this tournament. Now it's up to those people to compete in qualifiers and wrest the title from him and get the same privelege. By beating him. Imo it's hard to prove that you are better than the wch by just beating others. Ideally Anand would win more tournaments but considering his age and ambition I don't think there is big problem. Excel when it really matters!

Zeblakob's picture

DO you know Leibniz equality? two objects are equal if they behave the same if you put them in any context. MC behaved better than Anand in the same context. Leibniz equality is deeper than "If you are better than me, then beat me", besides I do not believe in this conjecture.

mdamien's picture

Leibniz is turning in his grave.

RealityCheck's picture

Who deserves the blame? People like you writing such rubbish are to blame. Since when do we seriously use tournament results, especially in recent years with various excellerated time controls, dubious scoring systems, unheard of playing conditions in glass cages, on stages with noise levels that would even aggrivate Petrosian's concentration etc. etc. in use, since when do we use these criteria to judge our World Champion?

Maybe it was important for Karpov to win many tournaments since his title came by default; made him a bastard to the Steintz blood-line of champions since he hadn't dethroned Fischer in battle. We know It wasn't his fault that Fischer flaked-out of the mstch but, he still had to prove he was worthy of the title. He proved his worth winning many a tourneo.

As for Anand, especially at this stage, after recently toppeling Topalov in his prime, crushing Kramnik and making mince meat of his opponents in Mexico City, he hasn't to prove a damn thing.

Paper Tiger my ass! Don't forget that when he was winning tournero left and right people like you said yes, yes but he has yet to win the big Match. Match play, only Match play determine the very best. Now that he's won Matches left and right and you say yes, yes but he hasn't won a tournero the past few years.

In conclusion, these two faced arguments come from losers, haters and have no basis in logic.

Zeblakob's picture

Off topic. Minimal lectures in logic are required; see e.g. elementary introduction to first order logic, Godel incompleteness theorem, sequent calculus, etc ...

Anonymous's picture

Once again the World Champion proved that nobody can beat him. Though everybody tried their hardest to beat him, he made comfortable draws without being at risk at any moment. For the moment at least, he is unbeatable in match play and that is what counts.

placebo_eq_anand's picture

It's sad that the world champion is so super boring, super bland and insipid. Anand has absolutely no entertainment value whatsoever. Very uninspiring.

Many congratulations to Mr. Carlsen for a great victory!

mdamien's picture

Congratulations to the victors, but recognize that Anand and Gelfand are preparing for a world championship match and cannot play all their cards here.

placebo_eq_anand's picture

We both know that's just bs. You win if you capable; simple as that.

redivivo's picture

Gelfand had the better position out of the opening in all his games I think, it's just that he isn't good enough to compete successfully against the top players, as his stats against them show. Gelfand plays Wijk in a couple of months, I don't think it will remind of Topalov's Linares win before his latest title match or Kramnik's Linares win before his match against Leko. And Anand would of course also love to win every time he participates, it's just that he isn't as strong as a few years ago. He will play London next month and next year he will have gone more than four years without winning a tournament.

S3's picture

I know it was only rapid, but Anand owned most contenders pretty hard in a recent tournament. Maybe he is not that bad, but just a tad lazy and not that ambitious ?

redivivo's picture

That was a six game rapid tournament against three opponents, and even in rapid Anand hasn't been as strong as he used to be. In Amber rapid Carlsen scored 9.5/11 and Aronian 7/11, while Anand scored the same 6/11 as Topalov after losing against Aronian, Ivanchuk and Carlsen.

Ashish's picture

In the rapid tournament you mention, Anand was very lucky not to be knocked out - Sasikiran missed a two move pin and win of a piece.

Tactically, Anand seems to have lost his edge. Could it be temporary? Maybe. Is it fair for chess fans to wish he took more chances, like Kramnik, Aronian, Carlsen and Nakamura? Yes.

Thomas Richter's picture

I think S3 referred to the Botvinnik Memorial rather than Corsica ... .


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