Reports | June 15, 2013 20:34

Tal Memorial: four-way tie for first after another amazing round

Fabiana Caruana, Boris Gelfand, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura are tied for first place after three rounds at the Tal Memorial in Moscow. Yet another amazing round saw three decisive games: Caruana defeated Magnus Carlsen, who misplayed a drawn rook ending, Nakamura won against Karjakin thanks to good preparation and excellent play in a Grünfeld, and Anand beat Morozevich in a very complicated Ruy Lopez. Sunday is a rest day.

All photos © Lennart Ootes

Where he had been sitting in the audience for the first three days, top GM Ian Nepomniachtchi joined the commentary team on Saturday to share his opinion. He wasn't listed as a commentator before the tournament, but of course the organizers can choose between about a dozen super strong players living in Moscow! Another very famous player who came by during the third round was the renowned trainer Mark Dvoretsky, who wasn't the only one being surprised about Magnus Carlsen's play in the rook ending against Fabiano Caruana, but more about that later.

A fish-eye view of the playing hall, just before the round

Like yesterday, the round needed some time to warm up, with two quick draws. The shortest game was Gelfand-Andreikin, a Bogo-Indian where Black equalized remarkably easily.

PGN string

Mark Dvoretsky kibitzing at the Gelfand-Andreikin post-mortem

Vladimir Kramnik was probably happy to get rid of the zero on the leader board; he drew in 26 moves with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. At the press conference the Russian explained in detail how deep he had analyzed this line of the Nimzo-Indian at home, and after that his opponent didn't have much to add. :-) Before he left, Kramnik signed autographs for about ten minutes.

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Queueing for Kramnik's autograph

From that moment the real fun started. It seems that his first round loss to Mamedyarov was just a little accident, because for the rest Hikaru Nakamura has been playing really well in Moscow. In this round he outplayed Sergey Karjakin in a Grünfeld, where Black had little chance to do better.

The spectators applauded the American when he remarked the following, referring to his rooks and queen on the e-file:

...and I think this is called Alekhine's Gun. Yes, I play this like Alekhine. Yesterday I tried to play like Tal. At least I'm playing like the Russians since I'm in Moscow!

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Nakamura: from a loss in the first round to shared first after three rounds

Some comforting words for Karjakin after the game

Later, Karjakin would tweet:

Vishy Anand scored his first win, and it really was vintage Vishy. At the press conference he tried to explain the very complicated Ruy Lopez, and even that was typically Vishy: thinking faster than he can speak (and therefore skipping variations and ideas), and speaking too fast for the translator to keep track! As it turned out, Morozevich only made the decisive mistake after the time control.

PGN string

Right when Anand was done, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana came on stage. The three players discussed some variations for a few minutes, and only then the World Champion left the stage. It was good to see Carlsen joining the press conference, which is not obligatory at this tournament for players who lose a game. The rook ending was simply too interesting not to discuss!

The world's number one had to defend for almost the whole game after he blundered a pawn at move 17. Everything was fine until beyond the time control, as both players agreed that the rook ending should have been a relatively easy draw. White might still be able to hold it if he goes back with the rook at move 49. What this game mostly showed is that even for a 2860 player it's possible to make a wrong evaluation of a theoretical ending R + p vs R! The game of chess is simply incredibly difficult.

We should add that Caruana played the technical phase flawlessly. It's really an up and down tournament for the Italian, but in the live rating list he went up today, leapfrogging Kramnik to reach the world's number 3 spot!

PGN string

Carlsen-Caruana during the opening phase

Carlsen leaving the playing hall after the game...

...awaited by his father Henrik and his second Peter Heine Nielsen

Waiting for the Anand press conference to be over...

...trying to figure out what went wrong

Caruana and team Carlsen in the background

The happy winner of this long game is now the world's number 3 in the live rankings!

Caruana discussing some variations with Anand

Tal Memorial 2013 | Results & pairings

Round 1 13:00 CET 13.06.13   Round 2 13:00 CET 14.06.13
Andreikin ½-½ Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Mamedyarov
Anand 0-1 Caruana   Kramnik 0-1 Nakamura
Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik   Caruana 0-1 Gelfand
Nakamura 0-1 Mamedyarov   Andreikin ½-½ Anand
Round 3 13:00 CET 15.06.13   Round 4 13:00 CET 17.06.13
Anand 1-0 Morozevich   Morozevich - Kramnik
Gelfand ½-½ Andreikin   Karjakin - Mamedyarov
Carlsen 0-1 Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Nakamura 1-0 Karjakin   Andreikin - Carlsen
Mamedyarov ½-½ Kramnik   Anand - Gelfand
Round 5 13:00 CET 18.06.13   Round 6 13:00 CET 19.06.13
Gelfand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Karjakin
Carlsen - Anand   Caruana - Kramnik
Nakamura - Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Anand - Nakamura
Kramnik - Karjakin   Gelfand - Carlsen
Round 7 13:00 CET 21.06.13   Round 8 13:00 CET 22.06.13
Carlsen - Morozevich   Morozevich - Caruana
Nakamura - Gelfand   Andreikin - Karjakin
Mamedyarov - Anand   Anand - Kramnik
Kramnik - Andreikin   Gelfand - Mamedyarov
Karjakin - Caruana   Carlsen - Nakamura
Round 9 11:00 CET 23.06.13        
Nakamura - Morozevich        
Mamedyarov - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Anand        
Caruana - Andreikin        

Tal Memorial 2013 | 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.


redivivo's picture

It's funny but it does begin to look like a recent trend: with black Carlsen has only lost twice in more than two years (both after time trouble mistakes in winning positions). But with white he has now lost four games in three months (and had a lost position in another game). Before that he didn't have a white loss in well over a year.

Chris's picture

Caelsen is hidding endgame preparation :)

Thomas Oliver's picture

It might be that Carlsen has an occasional tendency to overpress with white ("drawing blood from a stone" can backfire), while even he accepts a draw with black if the position doesn't have any resources to play for a win.

Even more surprising - given his reputation - is that 3/4 losses with white were in worse but objectively drawn rook endgames. Too much self-confidence? "Nothing can happen to me, I'm a genius"
[This is of course meant to be tongue-in-cheek]

Guillaume's picture

Thomas, I like reading your comments, but somehow they gives the overall impression that Carlsen only takes part in bad games, regardless of the result. He wins when his opponents blunder and he loses when he is overconfident. When was that last time that he took part in a good game?

valg321's picture

you're new here aren't you?

Thomas Oliver's picture

It might be that I primarily comment on such Carlsen games, often in response to overly enthusiastic comments from others. Most recently, would people call Carlsen's win over Kramnik brilliant endgame technique if this game hadn't been Carlsen-Kramnik but, say, Gelfand-Svidler or Smeets-l'Ami? Or would it then be that black completely misplayed the endgame?

Regarding good or rather 'memorable' games from Carlsen, without checking all his games ('memorable' is something people easily remember ...) from 2013 I would say his win against Harikrishna in Wijk aan Zee and his second win against Gelfand at the candidates event. But not, for example, the Tata Steel game against Nakamura (spectacular harakiri from the opponent), his first candidates game against Svidler (also mostly bad play from the other guy) or most of his endgame victories where he was mainly outsitting the opponent and patiently waiting for a blunder.
For losses, I would nominate Carlsen-Svidler 0-1 at the candidates event - a complicated game that certainly had mistakes from both sides but also some nice ideas or concepts.

redivivo's picture

"most of his endgame victories where he was mainly outsitting the opponent and patiently waiting for a blunder"

I don't think most of his endgame victories are about outsitting the opponent and waiting for blunders, but rather about having better endgame technique, which makes it easier for him than others to increase the pressure and convert an advantage in the endgame.

redivivo's picture

Also, the thing about "would people call Carlsen's win over Kramnik brilliant endgame technique if this game hadn't been Carlsen-Kramnik" is a bit of a straw man. I read through the almost 150 posts on the game and not a single one of them said a word about brilliant endgame technique by Carlsen. However, there were more than 50 of the usual posts after every Carlsen win stating that he had been lucky, that the game should have been drawn, etc. I think Carlsen's endgame technique was quite good in that game, by the way.

This round it was Caruana that played the endgame well, the same game with Carlsen as black would have gotten the usual 50 posts about him just outsitting the opponent, that the game should have been drawn, that he just waited for mistakes, etc. But it was a great game by Caruana, not his fault that his endgame technique was better than Carlsen's.

Anonymous's picture

Very much agree, I think this post is the refutation of the whole Thomas attitude towards Carlsen.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Maybe noone in comments here at Chessvibes on the first round specifically wrote "brilliant endgame technique", even if the very first Anonymous poster said "Impressive Magnus Carlsen outplaying Vladimir Kramnik in a perfect game". And German Chessbase wrote "Carlsen won in his typical style. ... In the endgame he had a slight advantage due to a black pawn weakness. Carlsen patiently increased his advantage, and even endgame virtuoso Kramnik couldn't handle the permanent pressure. Kramnik first lost a pawn and after a transposition to a bishop ending the game."
Hmm, on that day Kramnik wasn't an endgame virtuoso - losing/sacrificing a pawn and transposing to a lost bishop ending were his questionable decisions, Carlsen merely had to say 'thank you Vlad'.
The (clearly independent) English report on Chessbase seems more to the point: "Carlsen exploited some strange endgame decisions by Kramnik to ... take the full point". Whychess is refreshingly blunt: "There is little sense in trying to analys ein detail the Challenger's win over the ex-world champion, as the latter was the victim of a hallucination."
In three other recent endgame victories by Carlsen, it was also rather clear where the opponent went wrong: first game against Gelfand at the candidates event and twice against Radjabov (candidates and Norway supertournament). There might be other examples where Carlsen "increase[d] the pressure and convert[ed] an advantage in the endgame" without obvious help from the opponent, I can't remember any at the highest level but my memory isn't perfect.

Carlsen-Caruana was a strange game altogether: Carlsen's 17.Nc5? was just a blunder by any standards (also amateur standards). Then the game went into a drawn rook ending - probably hard to avoid for Caruana but inconsistent with a "perfect game". Only when a tablebase position was reached (after Carlsen's inaccurate play), Caruana's endgame technique was flawless - several times playing the only winning move.

Ricitos's picture

Somebody once suggested that Carlsen was an expert at posing problems to his opponents of the type 'Black to move and keep the draw.' These problems have to be solved OTB and under time pressure. If your success rate under such conditions is 99%, and you have to solve 10 problems each game, every 10th game you will 'blunder.'

It may be an explanation as to why Carlsen's opponents seem to blunder more often against him than against others.

Guillaume's picture

Hi Thomas, thanks for the insightful reply. As far as I'm concerned, I'd single out Carlsen's win in round 5 of Norway Chess 2013, and yes, Carlsen's loss against Caruana yesterday.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Yep, Karjakin-Carlsen from Norway Chess may be an example of an interesting if not "clean" game. Actually it's a bit analogous to Carlsen's loss against Svidler: similar Ruy Lopez opening and similar game story - white attacks, black successfully counterattacks. At a quick glance, the difference seems that Carlsen could have kept an advantage against Svidler only with unlikely engine moves such as Bh8 (playing white!), while Karjakin missed a more obvious better continuation before Carlsen could turn things around - obvious in the sense that, in hindsight, he might wonder himself why he didn't play 29.Bb5 rather than 29.Bc2.

But I rather strongly disagree about Carlsen-Caruana. How can a game with a, by GM standards, rather horrible blunder 17.Nc5? be memorable (if we forget about participants and importance for the tournament standings)?

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S3's picture

Nice round.
Karjakin playing Grunfeld was a surprise, and Caruana beating Carlsen seems to reaffirm that Carlsen tends to "underperform" against younger players. He probably even has a minus score against them in the last 3-4 years.

sid's picture

anyone can lose to anyone...very inconsistent

redivivo's picture

Nakamura deserves a lot of credit for being able to come back with two wins in a row against top opponents like Kramnik and Karjakin, after playing lots of events lately and having a bad start in the first round.A very good game by him today, in his 34th rated game in two months (four top tournaments).

Harry_Flashman's picture

S3 , If we hear to you Carlsen has a Minus score against everyone, my granny included, and yet ne is number one in the world... Hmmmm... Something doesn t look right..

S3's picture

Well, I was thinking of his = score against Caruana, his minus score against Giri, and the famous loss against Sjugirov for starters. And in general, he scores better against the older players than the young. Just an observation.

Morley's picture

You realize that the game against Sjugirov was three years ago, right? Not really indicative of a trend. He has plus scores against Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave, a losing one against Nepo, even against Caruana and minus against Giri. Seems pretty split down the middle to me, but then he has only played Nepo in three classical games, while he has played Karjakin fifteen.

S3's picture

Why do you want to twist my words? I was talking about younger players. Karjakin and Nepo are slightly older. But even with them included Karjakin would score around = or -1, not really convincing given the rating difference. He is defenitely doing better against the old guys.
My little theory is that it has to do with confidence (the young players not being afraid) and stamina (obvious enough).

Anonymous's picture

Probably S3 has some kind of a weird Carlsen problem. He still seems to feel personally responsible for cutting down the praise he rightfully receives - lol, as if Carlsen wouldn't be criticizing his own occasional lesser performances himself regularly.
Suum cuique.

S3's picture

I think anonymous has some kind of a weird S3 problem. After the latter makes a factual observation, a lot o people, including anonymous, go ballistic about it. Talking a lot about S3, but denying the truth: Carlsens negative score against the young guys.

celso's picture

If anyone wants to know anything about Carlsen, whom we ask? Answer: For the most expert and scholar on him: S3

Jambow's picture

Well its not to often Carlsen screws up an end game but he is human. Nakamura looking better but his game resembled Alhekine more than Tal ;o]. I expect things are a long way from being settled yet and if I had to wager my paycheck I would still put my money on Carlsen being he is the "luckiest" and all that. No matter good games and the fans are getting their money's worth.

bronkenstein's picture

Yes, Naka´s victory looked surprisingly smooth and straightforward (especially having in mind whom he was playing), not exactly resembling Tal´s games.

Moro´s selfdestr... err, Vishy´s fine win today resembled Tal the most =)

Thomas Oliver's picture

I don't know if Jambow watched the press conference, but Nakamura said so himself: "as I am in Russia, I play like Russian players - yesterday I played like Tal, today like Alekhine" (applause from the audience). Then he again pleased Russians, saying that Russia has good chances to win Olympic gold in ice hockey ... .

Jambow's picture

Thomas actually I just read about it so no it was my own thoughts being confirmed. Although as a former battleship sailor I recognize big guns when I see them!

Kronsteen's picture

Caruana is up to #3 on the live list, leapfrogging Kramnik.

Anonymous's picture

Overrated Magnus lost. Triumph for Mother Russia.

Chris's picture

Italia has won but what is connection between Carlsen and Russia?

RealityCheck's picture

@Chris The bogus connection between M. Carlsen and Russia is G. Kasparov and V. Putin.

What all of the dissident freedom fighters, and global human rights activists want to know is WhyonChess earth is Carlsen playing chess in Putin's Russia?

Shoudn't Carlsen have boycotted this tournament?

redivivo's picture

If you can't even enjoy chess when Carlsen is losing and Anand is winning, when do you enjoy it?

RealityCheck's picture

I enjoy the chess over and above everything else but I also enjoy butting heads with the varied points of view going around the table. Cheers!

How about you@redvivio, are you enjoying more the chess or the dry stat's? Btw, I noticed your approach has changed recently.....for the better.

Good day.

Chris's picture

There are more players to take a part in boycott then Carlsen

Chris's picture

Overconfident Kramnik has 2lost 2 games in a row.
Live rating
1. Norwegian 2.Armenian 3. Italian.

Anonymous's picture

um caruana is not russian

RealityCheck's picture

Viva Vishy Anand!

Wonder what was Caruana and Vishy discussing in the press room on stage for ten minutes after their victories to-day?

Chris's picture


bronkenstein's picture

Yes, 2014(15?) Vishy - Caru. There is few minor technical details to be dealt with (in November) but they decided to have a brief chit-chat prior to the beginning of the official negotiations. Why not?

Chris's picture

Not Vishy Caruana but Carlsen Caruana. Anand can be a second :)

harami's picture

I think Anand was talking to Caruana about hiring him as second for Anand Carlsen match ..

vlam's picture

I thought the same thing. Also considering how animated they were talking about their game after Vishy lost to Caruana.

Zeblakop's picture

What happens to MC? Hiding his endgame preparation for WC match?

Chris's picture

Caruana has caught top form. Carlsen is in his medicore.

Zeblakop's picture

But MC said after round 1 that he is in good form. Maybe he does not know himself unlike Lasker.

Chris's picture

good does not mean top,
good is near to medicore, usual

Morley's picture

Nice job from Caruana. This was a very Carlsen-esque victory after he won a pawn. Back within striking distance of 2800 ... he just might do it if he can avoid getting into time trouble, and pick up another win.

Nice win from Naka as well, he was impressively in control for almost the whole game. He and Caruana have nothing but decisive games, interestingly, and both have rebounded from really bad losses with wins against the top two seeds!

Surprising to see Kramnik and Karjakin so close to the bottom, just shows you how incredibly strong this event is. Much more exciting than other Tal Memorials I can remember.

sdq's picture

Do you have some thing personal against Anand??

Morley's picture

Of course not! I like Anand plenty, I just didn't particularly think much of his game today. Morozevich sacrificed pawn after pawn and imploded.


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