Reports | June 10, 2012 19:03

Tal Memorial R3: Morozevich joins Radjabov in the lead, McShane beats Aronian

Tal Memorial R3: Morozevich joins Radjabov in the lead, McShane beats Aronian

In a wild game Alexander Morozevich defeated Alexander Grischuk on Sunday to join Teimour Radjabov, who drew with Vladimir Kramnik, in first place at the Tal Memorial in Moscow. Tail-ender Luke McShane managed to beat world number 2 Levon Aronian with the black pieces, sacrificing an exchange in the opening and avoiding a repetition of moves a few times. Monday is a rest day.

The Tal Memorial's third round in progress | Images by Eteri Kublashvil & Vladimir Barsky / video stream, courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation

Event Tal Memorial 2012 | PGN via TWIC
Dates June 7-18, 2012
Location Moscow, Russia
System 10-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Radjabov, Nakamura, Caruana, Morozevich, Grischuk, Tomashevsky, McShane
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
Prize fund 100,000 Euro, first prize 30,000
More info All the details
Live Games / English commentary by GM Ian Rogers

The Pashkov House in Moscow only has a few dozen spectators each day, but the ones who are there must be enjoying themselves. The third round of the Tal Memorial had everything: a theoretical novelty at move 4, exchange sacrifices, time scrambles and a big upset.

Let's start with the most surprising result of the day. Who would have thought that Luke McShane, by far the lowest rated player in the field and in last place with two zeros behind his name, would beat world's number 2 Levon Aronian? Well, it wasn't that surprising. Even though he is not a professional player (he works in the financial sector in London), McShane has shown excellent results against top players recently.

The way he did it on Sunday reminded a bit of Mikhail Tal himself, except for the fact that McShane's sacrifice was probably entirely correct! And it wasn't preparation either. McShane:

I was surprised with the opening. After Bg5 I had a long think about what to do. In the end I decided on this sacrifice and actually I hadn't looked at it in detail, only at similar ideas. I don't remember exactly how the games went. To me it looked quite promising so I decided to try it.

Aronian wasn't very familiar with all the details either.

To be honest, once I remembered the position after 14...Nc6 I kew I was worse. Unfortunately my assessment was confirmed by the result of the game.

PGN string

The press conference with host Maxim Dlugy, Levon Aronian and Luke McShane

Aronian said:

After games like this it's necessary to have a good rest. Ofter I don't show my very best until I've lost one game so hopefully from now on it will go better.

Earlier in the round, two games had finished rather quickly. Soon after Vladimir Kramnik played a positional exchange sacrifice, Teimour Radjabov took a draw:

PGN string

Radjabov said that he simply couldn't find a plan at the end. Kramnik:

In human terms White's position is unpleasant to play.

For the third time in a row, world number one Magnus Carlsen wasn't very impressive.

PGN string

At the press conference, Carlsen said:

In the end I had to exchange everything in order not to be worse. It's better to take that option instead of playing around without any ideas.

In any of the games I didn't even get a normal position out of the opening. Well, today I did get a normal position but without any advantage.

The Norwegian was also asked about his plans for the World Championship cycle.

My general plan is to play in the next Candidates tournament which as far as I know I'm qualified for.

And what did he think of the Anand-Gelfand match?

Obviously I followed the match since as a professional it's very interesting to follow the games of the best tournaments especially in terms of openings ideas and such. As for the chess content, I don't know, I thought it was very interesting opening-wise and apart from that... it was not as exciting as it could have been.

To the question whether he watched the games live, Carlsen replied:

Frankly at that time, in parts of the match I had such a bad sleeping rhythm that I didn't actually wake up for the games.

Hikaru Nakamura tried the King's Gambit in his game against Evgeny Tomashevsky, who responded like he always plays: extremely solid.

PGN string

The two Alexanders in the group, Grischuk and Morozevich, had a fantastic fight. For a while it looked like Grischuk had some advantage, but as so often he was using a lot of time on the clock, also after the first time control. When he finally decided upon a bishop sacrifice, he was down to his last minute (plus increment).

PGN string

Monday is a rest day. On Tuesday, co-leaders Morozevich and Radjabov play each other and Kramnik and Aronian will face each other again, after they drew a match in Zürich at the end of April.

Tal Memorial 2012 | Schedule & pairings

Round 1 08.06.12 13:00 CET   Round 2 09.06.12 13:00 CET
Morozevich 1-0 Caruana   Caruana ½-½ Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Kramnik   Tomashevsky ½-½ Aronian
Grischuk 1-0 McShane   McShane 0-1 Radjabov
Radjabov 1-0 Tomashevsky   Kramnik 1-0 Grischuk
Aronian 1-0 Nakamura   Morozevich ½-½ Carlsen
Round 3 10.06.12 13:00 CET   Round 4 12.06.12 13:00 CET
Carlsen ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - Tomashevsky
Grischuk 0-1 Morozevich   McShane - Nakamura
Radjabov ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Aronian
Aronian 0-1 McShane   Morozevich - Radjabov
Nakamura ½-½ Tomashevsky   Carlsen - Grischuk
Round 5 13.06.12 13:00 CET   Round 6 14.06.12 13:00 CET
Grischuk - Caruana   Caruana - McShane
Radjabov - Carlsen   Kramnik - Tomashevsky
Aronian - Morozevich   Morozevich - Nakamura
Nakamura - Kramnik   Carlsen - Aronian
Tomashevsky   McShane   Grischuk - Radjabov
Round 7 16.06.12 13:00 CET   Round 8 17.06.12 13:00 CET
Radjabov - Caruana   Caruana - Kramnik
Aronian - Grischuk   Morozevich - McShane
Nakamura - Carlsen   Carlsen - Tomashevsky
Tomashevsky - Morozevich   Grischuk - Nakamura
McShane - Kramnik   Radjabov - Aronian
Round 9 18.06.12 11:00 CET        
Aronian - Caruana        
Nakamura - Radjabov        
Tomashevsky - Grischuk        
McShane - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Morozevich        

Tal Memorial 2012 | Round 3 standings


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.


JPS's picture

Brilliant game by McShane! To beat Aronian in this way with black after 0/2 is truly remakable.
At the same time we see further proof that all the criticism directed at the Anand-Gelfand match for supposed "low quality" is just nonsense. Other top players aren't doing any better, and they are even under less pressure. Of course they are taking more risks, but it is much easier do so in a tournament than in a WC match.

WC Fields's picture

People who defend Anand-Gelfand as inspiring chess always do so in the context of WCs as a whole. They act like there were never any other WC matches played in the past - Anand-Kramnik and Anand-Topalov were definitely fine WCs. Anand-Gelfand may have been interesting, but it just didn't cut the muster relative to the WCs of the past.

Chess Fan's picture

Each WC is different. We cannot talk about it relatively in absolute terms.
Gelfand was the best prepared and the strongest opposition World Champion Anand faced. Period.
I think those two who knew all the back story of the games (the two players themselves) are better judges of the quality of games and the WCh relatively speaking than you or anyone else, with due respect to what you have said.

WC Fields's picture

Nonsense. Fans of Anand have the right to rank his WCs relative to others for their excitement level. If single games can be ranked more or less exciting relative to others, it follows that WCs as sets of games, can be likewise ranked. No one would doubt, for example, that Anand-Gelfand 1996, wasn't an exciting game - and no one would wait to hear the opinions of the players before deciding this.

Chess Fan's picture

I always have the highest respect for Luke McShane as a player and so I am not surprised with him beating EVEN Aronian. I wish both of them the very best in the tournament.
For Magnus, I want to keep saying the same thing I would say to Kasparov, "Shut up or Put up. Don't comment on World Champions from the sidelines. You are getting to be annoying like another great player - Garry Kasparov".

Leo's picture

He was just answering someone's question about it. Besides, every patzer in the world feels free to comment on the WC match - why shouldn't he?

AK's picture

Epic game by Moro and Grischuk. Great game by McShane. Carlsen disappoints, again.

S3's picture

The worlds number 1 rated player made his 2nd short draw after obtaining no advantage in the opening.

The worlds number 2 played 5.Bg5 instead of Gelfand's continuations and after taking exessive risks he lost to the number 38 of the ratinglist.

Nakamura once again proved that playing on in a drawn position is often a waste of energy.

This tournament is vindicating Gelfand's comments on the championship match.

arkan's picture

Gel who?

darkergreen's picture

@S3: this tournament is full of exciting games, interesting positions, and even the draws are at least full of fight. so there is nothing parallel to "Gel-who?"s comments! Just check the games before commenting please:)

Chess Fan's picture

Your comments make perfect sense. People forget the importance of the WCh and the caliber of the two World Championship candidates and the player-specific preparation when they talk about draws or playing on.
I think Boris Gelfand's interview 2 on this website was one of the most informing interviews that I have ever read and confirmed my respect for him.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Luckily we don't know in advance when it's a "waste of energy" to play on instead of just agreeing on a draw. Maybe it's possible to learn something in the process. In a match there is also the added psychological pressure on the opponent to consider.

S3's picture

We, or at least GM's, can infer it by evaluating the position. In a match there is also the matter of efficient use of energy to consider.
But since you don't agree I am sure you will heavily criticize today's short draw.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Funny stuff about criticizing Carlsen's draw. You must think I'm a complete patzer just because we don't agree. Just because a position is more or less equal, doesn't mean there can't be practical chances. Few people would put the same effort in a lost or pretty much drawn position as Nakamura did, but who is he harming? You seem to forget that in a match, draining your opponent's energy is just as important as preserving your own. If a position is a dead draw, not much energy will be spent.

darkergreen's picture


boardgame's picture

S3 vs Martin Matthiesen 0-1

Anonymous's picture


Jeff Hall's picture

That you shouldn't play on in "obviously" drawn positions is certainly news to Carlsen.

S3's picture

And no one is criticizing him for that.

RealityCheck's picture

The extra energy spent at the board playing out a "drawn position" in hopes of "practicle chances", (practical chances really boil down to hoping your opponent will blunder) is time not spent on prep for the next game; It (energy) isn't only about needed rest and recovery.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Not every inaccuracy and mistake is a blunder. Not even in a position with reduced material.

RealityCheck's picture

The blunder, inaccuracy, and mistake all travel down the same road. One that leads to defeat.
Playing on in an "objectively drawn" position is more a matter of style. We can't say there is anything inherently virtuous about it.
In this tournament, Nakamura has only wasted time employing this strategy. That same time he could've spent doing something more productive.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Yeah, we probably wouldn't have seen the King's Gambit, if he had had time to prepare decently :-)

RealityCheck's picture


boardgame's picture

You mean preparing another opening till move 35? Well, I dont know. If I wanna see flawless chess, I let my engines play each other. The game needs some drama, just like every other sport. That's my opinion.
Considering this waste of energy discussion, I agree, it is a matter of style. Maybe he thought the time spent on trying to win this due to a blunder of his opponent, had a higher expected value than going over his preparation again. Either way, we should leave this decision to the players I think. You could maybe even argue that their success, being in the top 20, at least allows some justification of their decisions.

Ananymous's picture

RealityCheck vs Martin Matthiesen 1-0

RealityCheck's picture

Drawlsen draws again. Yaaawwwn. That's no news.

Danilovs'' prodigy (Topalov) throws in a couple of "one move" blunders to keep Spanish chess fans entertained. Paco hopes the winners check clears the bank...

Anonymous's picture

Aronian's 14. Ke2 was a disaster. A brilliant game by McShane.

Sakis's picture

would you prefer 14.Nd2 Ne4 ?

columbo's picture

Ke2 is not a disaster and it's not a mistake ! Nd 2 would have been a disaster ...

Mattovsky's picture

I wonder what Carlsen did in the past few months. Apparently he didn't even bother to look at even the most standard openings!

NN's picture

Carlsen was asked whether he watched the games of the Anand-Gelfand match live. He answered frankly that he was not sleeping at normal hours during the match, and he did not wake up in time (!) to follow the games live.

Together with the fact that he probably does not have a second to help him, and with other similar statements in the past, one can imagine that Carlsen has taken a looong break from working on chess.

S3's picture

Lol yeah he probably slept 24-7.
Every player has ups and downs and in betweens, no need to look for silly excuses.
Last year's Tal mem he was supposedly ill when his results were below expectations, as he was at Wijk. And at Biel he lost because of Breivik. What's next?

Anthony Migchels's picture

haha, and after all these failures he was at the top of the list non stop, haha, I wonder what your rating is S3

S3's picture

Why do you wanna know my rating? You want to challenge me or something?

Paul's picture

S3, is this your blog? We sure hear a lot about your wild interpretation of events here, day after day. Gelfand was a fantastic challenger and you really don't like Carlsen, we got that now.

d4's picture

S3, take a break!

S3's picture

Why ? You don't like my balanced reply to a post with sentences as " Together with the fact that he probably has no second " ?

Of course Carlsen has looked at openings during his tournament break. He even said so himself.

Xeno's picture

I recall how furious S3 was after the Breivik massacre because Carlsen lost a game the day after, and he couldn't enjoy it as much as hoped since someone wondered if Carlsen might be affected by playing just after the massacre, what a guy

boardgame's picture

There are people who have been working very hard for everything in their life and who see Carlsen as someone who does everything with ease. For some of them it is hard to accept that "slackers" can be more, if not even the most successful. That simply hurts too much.

S3's picture

If you look at the press conference you will hear that Carlsen said that he did follow the match, and that it was " of course" very important for him because of opening theory and such. I don't know why y' all don't want to hear that or take it so personal but it sure is amusing.

trollaras's picture

Carlsen is a young man, he has to "play" with girls as well, not just with chess. A break from chess at his age is a good thing.

Anonymous's picture

Drawlsen is supposed to be a. Why would he spend his vacation solving chess Puzzles, memorizing openings, or studying endgames?

RealityCheck's picture

A Genius?

MH's picture

Already much more interesting games in this tournament then in the WCC. Great respect for players that are able to achieve high elo ratings, and still create fun games for the audience on the chessboard.

S3's picture

Already? They have played more games than there were played during the wch so no surprise there. But indeed kudos to the players. Only a few of them made a couple of short draws.

Anthony Migchels's picture

Modern Chess is a cool game. It's not that classical chess like McShane played (even though that sac would've been unheard of only 20 years ago) is not, but I understand it and it feels natural.
but the Grischuk and Moro game shows just how much scope for development chess still has.

Abbas's picture

Brilliant game by McShane. Keep it up!

choufleur's picture

Sincerely, who cares about this :

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.

AljechinsCat's picture

I find it a nice and personal gesture. What do you care? Please go away.
Internet is sometimes like deep-see-fishing. Its incredible what crap comes from the dark when startled.


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