Reports | June 14, 2012 20:21

Tal Memorial R6: Morozevich loses to Nakamura, leads with Kramnik

Morozevich about to resign, Kramnik watching

Tournament leader Alexander Morozevich took risks, and eventually went down againt Hikaru Nakamura, on Thursday at the Tal Memorial in Moscow. The Russian now shares the lead with Vladimir Kramnik, who won the longest game of the round against Evgeny Tomashevsky. The top encounter Carlsen-Aronian ended in a draw, just like Grischuk-Radjabov, while Fabiano Caruana defeated Luke McShane.

Alexander Morozevich loses, Vladimir Kramnik joins him in the lead | 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

It's anybody's game at the Tal Memorial after Alexander Morozevich saw his firm lead vanish completely. In the 6th round, the Moscovite tried to mate his opponent Hikaru Nakamura and took quite some risks to do so. However, the American grandmaster defended well and took the point home.

Hikaru Nakamura, shaking up the standings with a good win

With some help from his opponent Evgeny Tomashevsky, Vladimir Kramnik won a long ending, to catch Morozevich in the lead. Half a point behind them, and still fully in contention for tournament victory, are Magnus Carlsen, Teimour Radjabov and Fabiano Caruana.

Morozevich was clearly upset, at the press conference after the game. Not because he hadn't won the game, no, because he had found "the only move that loses".

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Morozevich, still in shared first place after a disappointing game

The big clash between the world's number 1 and 2 was a Berlin Endgame. Carlsen kept some advantage but a well-timed positional exchange sacrifice by Aronian led to some kind of fortress.

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Grischuk-Radjabov was another continuation of the 3...e6 Rossolimo debate. For the moment, Black is doing fine.

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Fabiano Caruana got some promising positions, but many times Luke McShane managed to come back or at least keep the damage to a minimum, until he finally gave away the draw late in the ending. We think it might have been as late as move 52.

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Vladimir Kramnik still has good chances to repeat his 2009 success in Moscow. Evgeny Tomashevsky's Chebanenko/Semi-Slav (the one Vishy Anand also used in his match against Boris Gelfand) quickly transposed to a Queen's Gambit Accepted. As so often, Kramnik went for a quiet ending to try and outplay his opponent there. He did, but then missed a win and allowed his opponent to hold the draw at different moments. Eventually Tomashevsky failed to do so. 

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Friday is the second and last rest day. On Saturday we'll have Radjabov - Caruana, Aronian - Grischuk, Nakamura - Carlsen, Tomashevsky - Morozevich and McShane - Kramnik.

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 1-0 Tomashevsky
Grischuk 0-1 Morozevich   McShane ½-½ Nakamura
Radjabov ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik ½-½ Aronian
Aronian 0-1 McShane   Morozevich ½-½ Radjabov
Nakamura ½-½ Tomashevsky   Carlsen ½-½ Grischuk
Round 5 13.06.12 13:00 CET   Round 6 14.06.12 13:00 CET
Grischuk ½-½ Caruana   Caruana 1-0 McShane
Radjabov 0-1 Carlsen   Kramnik 1-0 Tomashevsky
Aronian 0-1 Morozevich   Morozevich 0-1 Nakamura
Nakamura ½-½ Kramnik   Carlsen ½-½ Aronian
Tomashevsky ½-½ McShane   Grischuk ½-½ 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 6 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.


Anonymous's picture

A lot of black wins in this tournament!

Anonymous's picture

Tal would be proud.

Argon's picture

Some really long victories so far. Caruana's 67 mover today, and Kramnik's 83 moves against Tomash. Grischuk - Moro was also over 60 moves. Grischuk - McShane was 63! I don't envy these guys; must be grueling.

bronkenstein's picture

Since , in the last 3 rounds , Magnus plays with Naka (his old client) , Tomashevsky & Mcshane - (both @ the very bottom of the table), and since he is slowly returning to his old form - I would say that he has good chances (well, at least not worse than Moro/Kram) to win the tournament.

Meantime, Kramnik & Moro still have to play their game (in the last round, Vlad being white).

Argon's picture

Carlsen definitely has the "easiest" last three rounds, insofar as any of these players is easy. I don't want to count Radjabov out, but I just don't see him scoring against Aronian and Nakamura. The climactic finish between Morozevich and Kramnik should be good; we'll see how Moro's nerves are after today's tough loss.

bronkenstein's picture

Moro was very tense @ the press conference today. Victory over Naka would, basically, turn the tournament into the race for 2nd place, now we again have the intrigue. Luckily he has free day to relax.

Speaking of the possible ´upsetters´, I guess that Caruana, the silent hardWorker, has better chances (for bit better nerves if nothing else) than Radja.

Ashish's picture

Do you have a link for the press conference? Thanks.

bronkenstein's picture

I didn´t manage to make the direct link work. Try , first link on top (? I hope) then first vid on top (Moro is on the pic) , Naka/Moro press conf should be approx @ 19:36

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen and Naka played many games with Carlsen as black but he has only won once, better chances for Kramnik to beat McShane with black again, as he has done in three of four games with black against the Englishman. And considering that Kramnik already is in the lead he has to be the favourite at the moment.

Chess Fan's picture

Good point. Magnus Carlsen has definitely the best chance of winning at this time, considering how good he is (like Moro) and how consistent he is (unlike Moro). The second and third choices would be Kramnik and Aronian (for the same reasons). Magnus has continued to play remarkably well. I hope he is playing in the next World Championship qualifying cycle. Kramnik, Aronian, Magnus, and of course Gelfand, are a must for a WCh qualifier.

Aditya's picture

Wow, Nakamura played pretty cool with that Bishop and pawn standing on the sixth. He does seem to know the tactical positions well, while attacking and defending. His game against Stripunsky was also similar,keeping a rook on the last rank against 5 pawns. The engines said he was ok, but it's scary to be facing those positions on the board.

That said, I think all the earlier draws will still hold him back to get to the top. Unless he manages to upset the traditional Carlsen encounter.

Argon's picture

I think it is pretty interesting that Nakamura wasn't really in a ton of danger at any point today. Morozevich was a bit over-bold at +3, and went for what was really just a bluff attack. Excellent play by Nakamura though, to see through the variations and play accurately.

Niima's picture

A "bluff attack"? What game were you watching? Listen to Morozevich and Nakamura at the press conference.

Argon's picture

I did. With accurate play Nakamura was never in any real danger. When Moro played f5, he was significantly worse.

Niima's picture

This can be said about many great games in history. It does not make the attack "a bluff".

Niima's picture

p.s. put your engine aside and face the onslaught on your own, then we'll see how you do. Nakamura never called it a bluff.

Fireblade's picture

So Hikaru still played like Krusty the Clown and got away with it.

VIktor's picture

Although I don't like americans precisely, I find rather disgusting this persecution against Hikaru.

Lee's picture

Fireblade isn't having a go at Hikaru.

Nakamura tweeted after round 5 "Maybe one day I can remember how to play chess well instead of playing like Krusty the Clown"

Moab2021's picture

Tal would be proud indeed. Moro wins my vote for Tal's successor. Crazy complications, deep sacrifices and psychological pressure on the opponent. His games are almost always crowd pleasers because he loves to swashbuckle. So does Nakamura. It' a tendency that won't win matches against the likes of Anand or the top three, but it shows great heart and ambition, and makes them my two favorite SuperGMs.

bruce b's picture

I agree totally. Moro and Naka may never be world's champions, but they add more to chess than anybody else at the present time (especially considering the recent world's championship match). Somebody should arrange a match between Nakamura and Morozovich, it would certainly be a slugfest like we got yesterday.

Let me add my reply to the Nakamura haters. First I heard "He'll never be top 20". When he accomplished that, I heard "he's certainly not a top 10 player, the way he plays". Guaranteed if Nakamura should become the world's champion somehow, we will be treated to the comment that "he will never be in the top 5 of all-time greats".

S3's picture

Wow what an excellent win by Kramnik. He truly is the best endgame player/grinder around !

I wonder what "Classic" will say after this round.

classic's picture

Well, Kramnik is certainly one of the best endgame players around, and he may well win the tournament.
According to the schedule for the last three rounds, I hold Kramnik, Moro and Carlsen with equal chances. There will be some nice excitement for the crowd anyway.

S3's picture

Moro and Kramnik half a point ahead and to play each other in last round makes a victory of one of them a bit more likely imo, but ok.

Bert de Bruut's picture

True, but his performance today was not very convincing to say the least. For instance, Tomashevksy missed a nice drawing trick with 59... Ra6+? where 59... Nf6 60 Rg5+ Kh6 61 Ke5 Nxe4! 62 Kxe4 Ra4+ leads to a draw because of 63 Kf5 (or 63 Nd4 Rxd4+ 64 Kxd4) Rxf5+ 64 Kxf5 stalemate!

Bert de Bruut's picture

63... Rxf4+ 64 Kxf4 that is of course

Paul's picture

Yeah, really really terrible move by Kramnik with 53. Kd3?? How could he have missed the nearly forcing line that ensues, the stalemate threat coming 11 moves later and the resulting drawn endgame R+N vs R+P? The correct continuation was of course the obvious 53. Rg1, to prevent the fork 59. Nf6. Kramnik should stop playing chess and let us patzers do the job with our engines.

Bert de Bruut's picture

Well Paul, this was just an exemple, Kramnik worst inaccuracy was not playing 42 Re6! which trades down to a winning Night endgame after 42... Rxe6 43 f5+, and this mistake was instantly critiziced during the live broadcast by GM Ian Rogers, who comments on all games without using engine feedback. So you are actually quite out of line here, unless you consider him a patzer as well?

Anonymous's picture

Of course also Toma's 68. ... Ke5?? lost immediately in a drawn position, Kramnik is a strong endgame player but this wasn't one he'll be particularly proud of, winning just thanks to what Chessbase calls "a tragic blunder".

S3's picture

Toma's Ke5 was even more unexpected than Radja's gxf4

Anonymous's picture

Amazing round!

dev anand's picture

Moro looked out of it in the press conference..clearly very upset. he needs to dig deep and calm down - he can still win the tournament and he has shown that he has the skill to defeat the very best (Aronian).

Anthony Migchels's picture

Really just too bad for Moro, but with his incredible approach these losses are unavoidable and basically just the price he pays for those splendid wins. Hikaru doing well to keep his cool.

Carlsen looking 'sluggish', but in poleposition and Caruana confirming his amazing rise of the last six months.

I don't know, but this is a really wonderful tournament and lately it seems to me that drawing tendencies at the very top have been declining.

Zarathoustra's picture
Septimus's picture

Carauna is shaping up to be a silent killer, the type you ignore until it is too late!

Anonymous's picture

WTF was Morozevich burning his bridges for when he was a full point ahead of the field?! When he should have went all out (when facing elimination in Kazan) he just agreed to a short draw. Completely incomprehensible!

Remco G's picture

The reason we love Moro is that he _always_ plays like that.

NN's picture

Morozevich was not in Kazan 2011. Perhaps you are thinking of the World Cup. Anyway, he did not lose on purpose today, or play too riskily, he just lost because of one bad move, and you cannot say it was an aggressive move.

In the press conference, obviously mad at himself, he said about 38.Qd1: So Qd1 is the only losing move, right? Like in a study ... I was thinking after the game that only Qd1 loses. Even if I play Ka1 it is a draw.

Anonymous's picture

He chose to play double-edged when he should have went for a draw given his standing in the tournament.
He should have played this way when he was facing elimination in the World Cup.

1984's picture

Great round, great games. Moro's Nxc5 was the big blunder imo

Szoker's picture

Awesome tournament !

very interesting ;)

Profits's picture

Naka has had his lucky Canadian shirt on. The man that is dressing him in the morning is making the decisions to determine if he wins or not. Make North America proud and be yourself. Say what you feel in the press conference. You are there to win not to show them how nice of a person you are or can be. In order to be a celebrity in chess you can't live in a bubble of fear. Fischer didn't and you Naka should follow is ways. Your fan supporters are with you all the way.

Chess Fan's picture

Ok, Nakamura proved his elite caliber by beating Moro. Hope he plays equally well against the trniity of chess elites in this tournament: Aronian, Kramnik, and of course Magnus.

Niima's picture

He also behaved quite well at the press conference. Moro was visibly upset and made a couple of snappy comments, but Nakamura did not respond in kind and was a true gentleman.

dev anand's picture

yes - Naka was classy. Really liked his approach. shows that you can win while being classy.

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