Reports | June 06, 2012 11:00

Tal Memorial starts tomorrow, Carlsen & Aronian top seeds

7th Tal Memorial starts tomorrow, Carlsen & Aronian top seeds

Tomorrow the Tal Memorial, one of the strongest round roubin tournaments of the year, takes off in the Pashkov House in Moscow, Russia. On Thursday a special opening ceremony is planned, in which the drawing of lots will be based on the results of a blitz tournament. During the main event it is not allowed to offer a draw before move 40.

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

The 7th edition of the Tal Memorial will take place 7-18 June, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. As always it will be a 10-player round roubin. The full list of participants of this year's Tal Memorial is as follows:

# Name Fed Rating
1 Magnus Carlsen NOR 2835
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2825
3 Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2801
4 Teimour Radjabov AZE 2784
5 Hikaru Nakamura USA 2775
6 Fabiano Caruana ITA 2770
7 Alexander Morozevich RUS 2769
8 Alexander Grischuk RUS 2761
9 Evgeny Tomashevsky RUS 2738
10 Luke McShane ENG 2706

Early March six players had confirmed their participation: Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Radjabov, Nakamura and Caruana. Three more Russian players were announced at a later stage: Morozevich, Grischuk and Tomashevsky. McShane entered the tournament after winning an online poll.

The tournament takes place in the Pashkov House, one of the most renowned Classicist buildings in Moscow, currently owned by the Russian State Library. It is believed to be built by Vasili Bazhenov and is located at 3/5 Vozdvizhenka Street, Moscow. It was erected in 1784-1786 by Pyotr Pashkov, retired Captain Lieutenant of the Guards Semenovsky Regiment and son of the batman of Peter the Great. The building was designed by Russian architect Vasili Bazhenov.

The dates for the Tal Memorial are 8th-18th June, with rest days on the 11th and 15th of June. Normally the tournament takes place in November, but it was moved to June when FIDE announced that they would organize the Candidates Tournament in October-November. Later this tournament was moved to March 2013.

The tournament is a 10-player round robin and the rate of play will be 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. We can expect five long games every day, because it is not allowed to offer a draw before move 40. The Chief Arbiter is Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland.

The standing will be determined according to the number of points scored. In case of a tie, the following tiebreaks will be used in descending order:

  1. Highest number of games played with Black
  2. Highest number of wins
  3. Direct encounter
  4. Koya system
  5. Sonneborn-Berger coefficient

The tournament has a prize fund of 100,000 Euro with a 30,000 Euro first prize. (The indicated amounts of the prizes are after tax.)

Again, the Russian Chess Federation will provide online coverage with video streams and commentary in both Russian and English.

Blitz tournament

A novelty this year is the way the drawing of lots (starting order) will be arranged. On June 7th, at 18:30 Moscow time (16:30 CET), a 9-round blitz tournament starts between all ten participants, according to the round robin system. The time control will be 3 minutes and 2 seconds increment per game. The drawing of lots for this tournament is fixed, and follows the ratings as given in the table above.

This seems to be the location of the live broadcast. 

The standing will be determined according to the number of points scored. In case of a tie, the same tiebreaks will be used as in the main tournament.

This blitz tournament has a prize fund of 15,000 Euro with a 5,000 Euro first prize. (The indicated amounts of the prizes are after tax.) The final rankings will decide upon the starting number of the players in the Tal Memorial.

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.


lefier's picture

The blitz tournament for drawing of lots is an interesting way to initiate the tournament, both for spectators and for participants.
One must appreciate that the organizers are inventive to create increased interest around the tournament.

Eiae's picture

I agree. Tal Mem is miles ahead of any other tournament at the moment, both in strength and especially in media production. It doesn't look like the other tournaments are learning from this, which is sad.

Lee's picture

That is a crazy strong field. Good luck to the participants!

Calvin Amari's picture

Having this event take place on the heals of the "World Championship" and in the same city that hosted that match almost seems designed to underscore Kasparov's point. Fully HALF the field are rated higher than Anand and all but one are rated above Gelfand.

RealityCheck's picture

@Calvin Amari,

Thomas left us a link to a gem of a game played by (a Gelfand second) Huzman rated 2574 at the time, against the Elo pimp Kasparov 2830.

Your boy lost to someone rated 256 points lower than himself. Loser.

Why you are so persistent at pushing a faulty idea beats the hell out of me. Your Elo Rating argument to emphasize the best player is still rubbish. and it will always be rubbish.

redivivo's picture

Yes, Kasparov was an "Elo pimp" and a loser, I wonder how on earth he got a higher rating than Huzman.

Calvin Amari's picture

Every major tournament in the world -- and probably all the minor ones -- seeds players based on ELO. I guess this universal standard is rubbish and the world chess world should adjust its practices to rank players based on your mastermind assessment of chess reputation and whether the player once pulled off a rare upset against Kasparov.

You are free to believe that the championship match was played by the two best players in the world. Here on planet Earth, you seem to have very little company, including among senior FIDE officials under whose auspices the match took place. It is quite something to have a greater talent for denying reality than even they do....

RealityCheck's picture

Quite honestly, I have no beef about ELO Rating (even w/ its inherent flaws) being used to seed players in a tournament.

On the other hand, it makes me sick when I notice people, like yourself, using ELO as a propaganda tool to divide the chess fraternity. I strongly disagree w/ those, mainly Kasparovs' lap dogs, implying a split Title. Rest assured, that this sorry debate, World Champion vs World No One, would not be taking place had Carlsen by some stroke of luck become Wch.

Thomas's picture

"Every ... tournament ... seeds players on Elo" - true, but what does this mean? To win the event you still have to play chess - if not the best chess in a given event, then at least the most efficient or "luckiest" chess. That's what Gelfand did at World Cup and candidates event. To my knowledge, a tournament was never won by a player who didn't participate - not even when he was the highest-rated one on the initial invitation list.

noyb's picture

Um, how about the two games where Kasparov crushed Huzman in 1998, where he was playing a clock simul against several GMs? Guess Huzman was having an "off" tournament then?!

RealityCheck's picture

Uhh, it was a Simul. What shd one expect expect from an exhibition?

Thomas's picture

Ratings must be extremely accurate to deduce that Radjabov (2784.0) and Nakamura (2782.6) are stronger than Anand (2780.2), and Tomashevsky (2738.0) is better than Gelfand (2737.8). Never mind that this can change on a daily basis during the tournament.

redivivo's picture

He didn't say they were stronger though, just that they were higher rated. But Anand hasn't showed much in a long time, maybe he'll finally play like a top ten player in Bazna later this month. His Elo performance the last year has been clearly below 2750 but he should be able to play stronger than that and be better than Radjabov and Nakamura, but then he must show more than he did in any of his four-five lastest events.

bhabatosh's picture

"Anand hasn't showed much in a long time" -- what ?? 3 world championship matches are defended against 3 players , Kramnik who took crown from Kaspy , 2nd Topalov from is backyard and gelfand who proved almost unbeatable in matches ..... elo is B*S**t and it is a stat tool which must be flawed since day by day everyone is crossing 2700 and 20 yrs later they will reach 2900 and people will think those players are better than kasparov and todays Carlsen .... I see so many post describing Anand did nothing , that is too much !!!

Calvin Amari's picture

Kasparov's point is well known -- that the championship match was not going to determine the world's strongest chess player. This issue, therefore, is not whether ALL the players with a higher ratings and consistently better tournament performances in recent years are better than Anand and Gelfand. The issue is whether you can establish, and any reasonable person can believe, that NONE of them are better.

But then again a mastermind such as yourself no doubt has superior insight into chess quality than does Kasparov....

Anonymous's picture

You and Kasparov both need to stop nagging.

Taiman's picture

Stating simple reality, rather than denying it obstinately, is not nagging. The FIDE championship will and should engender comment, and the overwhelming number of knowledgeable commenters view this match as “disappointing,” “forgettable,” “uninspired,” and the like, and it is not difficult to find knowledgeable commenters saying far worse things about the match. Finding someone, even within FIDE, willing to say that the match really did determine the world’s best chess player is nearly impossible, but I suppose you and your chatroom cohorts have to distinguish yourself somehow.

RealityCheck's picture

Simple reality? The world champions' score against the world no one is? Get real. @Calvin Amari Why not you invest some arguments in keeping the chess fraternity unified.

Anonymous's picture

You seem to love to complain. I have a better idea. Stop watching chess. Problem solved.

victor pastrana's picture

Carlsen will be the winer!

Randowan's picture


Tarjei's picture

Can't wait to see Morozevich back into action!

iLane's picture

What does "starting order" mean in a round robin? I understand someone will have more white but what's the difference being 4th or 7th...? I don't get it what this blitz decides...

fen's picture

The blitz tournament decides the starting order for the regular tournament (as opposed to Elo ratings determining the starting order) and the top five finishers in the blitz tournament will play five games with white and four with black in the regular tournament. So the results of the blitz tournament could have quite a significant impact on the regular tournament since the regular tournament is not a double-round robin.

Thomas's picture

While Elo ratings affect pairings in Swiss and knockout events, I don't think they ever affected pairings in round robins - else players like Carlsen and Kramnik would pretty much always get an extra white game.

Since "more games with black" is the first tiebreaker, it could actually be favorable to play badly in the blitz event as worse(!) result in blitz might matter in the end ... :) . On the other hand, I think the tiebreaks only affect bragging rights of players and/or their fans, nnot the prize money distribution.

Anonymous's picture

I was thinking the same thing you were regarding the "more games with black tie breaker" since there are several competitors who play well with black.

In this tournament the tie breaks do matter for assigning prize money since each place finish earns a different amount.

redivivo's picture

Every player wants an extra white, and for good reasons.

fen's picture

Sure, traditionally; but I wonder if there's ever been a study that shows how much better off someone is with one more white and a tiebreak of more blacks. Are they substantially statistically better off, or is it more psychological, perhaps?

giovlinn's picture

@ Victor Pastrana- You mean winner or whiner?

MJul's picture

For Victor Carlsen will be the winner, and you, giovlinn, are already the whiner.

BTW, personally I believe that when someone talk about somebody or something, is actually talking about itself.

Randowan's picture

If so, when you are talking about someone that is talking about someone, are you talking about the someone that is talking about someone or are you just talking about someone?

MJul's picture

I was making a mistake:

"giovlinn: Carlsen had his own motives and it had nothing to do with fear. As for jokers , take a good look in the mirror."

"george: Carlsen : waaaa, I want tournaments with patzers playing in the line up so I can whup them and become WCH
Fide: go fk yourself. when you have grown the balls to play in a match come back."

I confused the nicks. Wich says a lot about my 4-years-without-holidays, actually.

MJul's picture

And... about how tired I am about so many... irrational discussions about Carlsen with more than a couple of violent "kibitzers"

victor pastrana's picture

winner, it was a finger error

Septimus's picture

Given their recent form, I'd say Aronian and Kramnik have the edge.

KingTal's picture

With 8 of the top 11 players in the world participating someone would expect that to be a Candidates tournament. They also had the best tournament live streams in the last years, it´s definitely tournament of the year.

victor pastrana's picture


Anonymous's picture

What is it that you are trying to say?! Who is NN?

hansie's picture


Mauricio Valdes's picture

After witnessing th elamest match ever this must be OK.

noyb's picture

Looking forward to an outstanding tournament!

classic's picture

WOW what a tournament...

Simple Pole etc.'s picture

WOW, what a location... Pashkov House appears in Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita"!

Ians's picture

Glad to know that fighting chess is back so soon after that terrible match

ssd's picture

btw on a different note .. does anyone know why the world rapid championships are not in news??? any top player playing?

bronkenstein's picture

Ah, finally. Time for some easy low-stake games. Just good old Elo farm + some blitzing. Go go Grischuk!

Sierraronda's picture

I can´t wait to see Moro and McShane in action¡¡¡¡

hakapika's picture

Well, I can. But the rest of the field is another story

Anonymous's picture

It doesn't really matter who is the best player in the world. Anand clearly was at one time or he couldn't have trashed Vladimir Kramnik like he did. He holds the title and it doesn't matter if he loses all of his chess skill between now and his next match. Until somebody knocks him off of his hill he is the king of it. It that means nothing then a history of tradition means nothing and getting the worship of your countrymen and 1.4 million usd for playing 12 classical games means nothing.

Anonymous's picture

Silly, outdated privileges for the title holder make this happen. A history of tradition means nothing but a history of tradition.

Well, of course it does matter who is the best player in the world, and it is not Anand. How wouldn't anybody get the worship of his fellow countrymen if he is allowed to call himself 'world champion' in chess? Even those driving their cars round in cycles do.


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