Reports | June 14, 2013 18:37

Tal R2: Kramnik loses again, to Nakamura; Gelfand beats Caruana

Boris Gelfand, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Magnus Carlsen are tied for first place after two rounds at the Tal Memorial in Moscow. These three players won one game and drew one. Vladimir Kramnik is on 0/2 after losing to Hikaru Nakamura on Friday in a Fianchetto King's Indian. Gelfand defeated Fabiano Caruana in a theoretical Najdorf.

Caruana vs Gelfand | All photos © Lennart Ootes

During the second round the commentary in Digital October, the technology centre in the old chocolate factory Red October, was provided by GMs Peter Svidler and Sergey Shipov. Some of the spectators are quite strong chess players; we noticed for instance GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi, Maxim Dlugy and during the first round Paco Vallejo came by as well. Svidler's wife and two sons could be spotted too! All of them saw a second round that had a bit of a slow start, but got quite exciting later on.

Sergey Shipov, Peter Svidler and Mark Gluhovsky

Vishy Anand drew his black game against Dmitry Andreikin in a sideline of the Semi-Slav, with an early Qd3. The Indian couldn't remember all the details and went for a risky line in which his king got stuck in the centre for a while, blocking the bishop on f8. In return he got three (!) pawns, but one would soon be gone and maybe two. While more and more pieces left the board, the World Champ's king remained exposed but by giving back material in time he could reach a drawn rook ending.

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Anand & Andreikin explaining their game to the spectators

Around the same time, Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen split the point as well. Black sent out an invitation to the Berlin Ending, but these days most top players decline this one way or another. Karjakin chose the super-solid 5.Re1 line, just like e.g. Peter Leko against the same opponent in Wijk aan Zee this year. Back then Carlsen exchanged the dark-squared bishop; this time he preferred to put it on c5. Karjakin kept an edge, and Carlsen was trying to create some sort of fortress. He should have done this without opening the a-file which was "dubious", as he said after the game. Karjakin killed all hopes for an advantage with his 33rd move.

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So far it's been ups and downs for Fabiano Caruana in Moscow. He finished last in the blitz tournament, then defeated the World Champion in an excellent game, but this was followed by a loss against Boris Gelfand. The game was very much of theoretical importance, because it was A) a Sicilian Najdorf, still one of the most popular defences against 1.e4, B) an English Attack, still one of the most popular systems against the Najdorf, and C) one of the deepest theoretical variations that exists in the English Attack! Gelfand seemed a bit better prepared in this pet line of Loek van Wely, and refuted his opponent's moves with nice tactical strokes.

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Fabiano Caruana resigns his game against Boris Gelfand

Gelfand signing autographs after he showed his game...

...and more autographs (his second Alexander Huzman in the background)

It seems that Alexander Morozevich missed an excellent chance to create big problems for his opponent, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In an Advance Caro-Kann, the Muscovite introduced an interesting pawn sacrifice, and continued with the principled 15.Qh5, but at the press conference he showed a lot of lines that started with 15.Qg4 and Houdini likes it very much for White. The game saw an interesting ending where White's bishop pair provided just about enough compensation.

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Mamedyarov & Morozevich chatting in the corridor right after the game

For Hikaru Nakamura it's been ups and downs as well, but in his case the balance is in his favour. Yet again the American defeated Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces – for the third time already in classical games, something that Garry Kasparov never managed. The American dropped the name of his former trainer at the press conference, and also revealed that he almost played a queen sacrifice in the style of Mikhail Tal, which was something the crowd clearly enjoyed. The very last thing Nakamura said was something very realistic and sportive at the same time: that he had been lucky to win.

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Nakamura again beats Kramnik with Black

Kramnik lost his first two games

Kramnik leaving, Nakamura relieved

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 - Morozevich   Morozevich - Kramnik
Gelfand - Andreikin   Karjakin - Mamedyarov
Carlsen - Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Nakamura - Karjakin   Andreikin - Carlsen
Mamedyarov - 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 2 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

After Radjabov and Ivanchuk, will it be Kramnik fall ?

he had a clear advantage, what is happening to big Vlad ???

Eadon's picture

What is happening to big Vlad? All GMs have poor tournaments, it is statistical - you lose some of the games to men rated 50 or 100 points below you some of the time. Carlsen had a poor tournament recently. It was called the Candidates, not sure if you remember it. When Carlsen has an off week, then he only finishes joint first having to rely on the tiebreak advantage.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen won the candidates match ! O YOU REMEMBER IT ??? That's what you call poor result ??? When was the last time Kramnik lost two games in a raw in this kind of tournament ???

Thomas Oliver's picture

What happened to Carlsen at "his" Norwegian supertournament?

Jim's picture

He came in second with a 2830+ performance. Pretty disappointing, I know, it's only better than literally everyone else in the world could expect to do.

Tom Oliver's picture

Haahahahaha Carlsen came second in HIS OWN tournament ahahahahaha I enjoyed that so muuuch I enjoy whenevery Carlsen loses!

Hernán Ruiz's picture

Poor envious guy.You had a lot of pain, because Magnus win almost tournament.Keep enjoying your
miserable happines when he is not winning.

Thomas Oliver's picture
Jim's picture

Oh, and he beat the winner in their head to head game. If you think this is a failure, then you must be the biggest Carlsen fanboy I know, since you apparently expect him to win every single tournament.

Anonymous's picture

it wasn't HIS tournament, it was THOMAS OLIVER SUPER TOURNAMENT. You played soooooooo well thomas, just incredible !

jimknopf's picture

Only 2 games played, but obviously a bad start for both Kramnik and Anand.

I enjoyed Gelfand outplying Caruana with black, in a really complex middlegame.

Horace Umbilical Knocking Shop's picture

There's nothing surprising in Anand's defeat. As I have pointed out on multiple occasions, the nominal 'form' of this most nominal of world champs has been iffy for a long while. In fact, I'd be interested to see research into any precedents of such relentless middling performances - and remember this is over years, not just months - from an encumbent world champion. I'd venture it is as rare a phenomenon as finding a 'world champ' who in his entire tenure has rarely been in even the top 3. This pretender - this cuckoo planted on Kasparov's throne - the putative world chess champion - has made mockery of his title for too long - and I for one can't wait for Carlsen to stuff him, bringing the sorry charade of this interim flyweight weakling 'Champion' to its deserved and long overdue end.

harami's picture

Try asking about the flyweight champion to Kramnik and Topalov.

unfortunately Anand seems to be unable to keep up his high class in the last years, which i grant you, but He Ain't no weakling.. Stop hallucinating yourself.

Watch Anand spank Carlsen in November..

murai's picture

Carlsen fled the candidate scene last year commenting on the format this time after losing to Anand he may flee the world championship circuit forever.

Anonymous's picture

How silly!

Sq's picture

Well there is Fisher who didn't win a single tournament after WC.
Also I think every WC after Alekhine to Karpov I believe rarely won tournaments they played in.

Anand has a legitimate claim to be the greatest player of all time. He won the world championship four times (not including the FIDE title). That's more than Karpov, Fisher, Spassky, and Kramnik. I donn't know how far you have to go back to find someone who can equal Anand, but I'm sure someone can do the research.

Sq's picture

BTW. This comment is referring to Horace's illinformed comment, who apparently just fell off a log and has no clue about the history of chess.

redivivo's picture

Caruana and Nakamura are the only players to have a plus score against both Anand and Kramnik, Nakamura has even won three times with black against Kramnik. Impressive considering that Kasparov never won with black against him.

Fishy's picture

You cannot compare these eras. 20 years ago when Kramnik was in his prime, Kasparov didn't win with black against him. OK
But now Nakamura is in his prime and a 'veteran' almost. So you cannot compare this.

Thomas Oliver's picture

It isn't comparable for a different reason - one has to look at the actual games and how Nakamura won with black or rather how Kramnik lost with white. Twice Vlad played piece sacrifices that were at best dubious - the second time he may have been in an overly adventurous mood because he had already secured clear first place in Dortmund 2011. Now he "found" another way: misplaying a clearly favorable, if not won position. Conversely, Nakamura recently 'specialized' in somehow holding worse positions together - today he even escaped with a full point.

Maybe Kramnik simply never did such things against Kasparov?

One thing will never change: redivivo pointing out Nakamura's plus score against Kramnik whenever this happens to be the case. Currently it's +4=7-3 for Nakamura, certainly not "domination". Hikaru's fourth win at the 2012 Olympiad was also a seesaw affair, while Kramnik's three wins were all pretty "clean" - but OK that's a matter of different styles.

Septimus's picture

Why is that if Kramnik loses, it is solely attributed to him, without giving credit to his opponent? Nakamura played a better game and won. Simple as that.

Anonymous's picture

In the game of today, Kramnik had a huge advantage and then totally collapsed. Even Naka would agree on that

Septimus's picture

It is the final score that matters. You can't be brilliant for 75% of the game, blunder the remaining 25% and hope to win. Nor can you attribute it to "bad luck", a favorite word of Thomas Oliver.

S42's picture

OK, then why bother with the course of the game at all? Why analyze games? The winner is always right... By implication winning by all means and at all costs is the only thing that matters.

Not my game.

Thomas Oliver's picture
Jambow's picture

Pointing out a plus score with black isn't saying he dominated him, matter of fact I don't think the word domination got mentioned except by you.

I think you are correct Kramnik seems to extend himself against Nakamura but perhaps because he thinks he has to prove his is a better player and actually they are closer to equal. I think Kramnik's opinion that Nakamura plays unsound chess influences his choice and his ego perhaps causes him to step out with a false sense of security. I will say this much Nakamura vs. Kramnik has produced some noteworthy games.

Part of being a great chess player is tenacity I win frequently by simply pressing on and lose more often when my opponents do.

Chris's picture

some \time sacrifaces are dubious sometimes excellence, it depends on the result:)
The results are deserved. Remember Lasker who was specialist in going in objectively wrong positions but unpleasent for partners and was winning.
Kramnik loses against Nakamura are not casual.
Importan is that Nakamura was winning lately.
Results from last years shows if it is domination.

Thomas Oliver's picture

If you win a game after an objectively incorrect sacrifice, the proper term in the age of engines isn't "excellent" but "speculative" :) .

"Nakamura was winning lately" - seems you have a selective memory and didn't double-check? In chronological order, their decisive games since 2011 are
Nakamura-Kramnik 0-1, Dortmund 2011
Kramnik-Nakamura 0-1, Dortmund 2011 (again it's worthwhile mentioning that Kramnik had already secured clear first place, maybe he took too much risk dreaming about a +6 score in the event and a 2800+ rating?)
Nakamura-Kramnik 1-0, Chess Olympiad 2012
Nakamura-Kramnik 0-1, London 2012
and now Kramnik-Nakamura 0-1, Tal Memorial 2013

Chris's picture

last 2 years: 2 : 1 for Nakamura.

strana's picture

You are wrong, Chris.
Nepo 2,5 - 0,5 Carlsen. This is domination.

redivivo's picture

I didn't say that Nakamura was "dominating" Kramnik though, but he does have a plus score against both him and Anand, which is impressive enough (better than Carlsen's scores against both opponents).

Chris's picture

kramnik does not think that he is veteran, he is fighting for wch still. nakamura is not at his prime yet

redivivo's picture

Kramnik wasn't in his prime 20 years ago, when Kasparov played his first games against Kramnik the latter wasn't top ten while Kasparov was #1 with a huge margin. I'd say Kramnik played his best chess around 2006-09 rather than in 1993, and he scored his best Candidates ever in 2013 so he isn't all that bad.

Kasparov played around 25 games with black against Kramnik and never won, while being clear #1 during all these games. Nakamura has won 3 of his 7 black games against Kramnik, while being lower rated during all these games. For a player sometimes said to have a comparatively unsound style Nakamura sure has done unexpectedly well against both Anand and Kramnik.

S3's picture

Best chess in 2006-2009..nonsense.
But such mistakes are not surprising for someone with your track record. After all, in the past you wrote how Gelfand never was a candidate in the 90's, and similar nonsense.

me's picture


Martin's picture

Kramnik is losing because he realized it.... he just realized the truth about Carlsen.
Somehow he discovered that Carlsen is an alien, a green. Kramnik is very smart he can get that sort of subtle things. He should've discovered it in London. What can you do when you face someone from another galaxy? Extraterrestrial life with an hyper-brain? That would explain his latest dismal performance. But then again who would believe him? The number 1 is an alien.

Magnus's picture
Zeblakop's picture

Kramnik is emotionally broken, he needs affection.
Karjakin played like MC.
Naka played like Naka.

Septimus's picture

Anand is hiding his preparation again.

Anonymous's picture

He he he, poor Carlsen, he doesn't know what's in store for him.

Horace Umbilical Knocking Shop's picture

All Anand has is preparation. The work of deputies. It won't be enough to save him in November.

paul's picture

Now that's an argument !!!! It has been that way for a decade!

murai's picture

The person crushed all opponents in all formats will crush carlsen once more in November.

me's picture

Totally agree, he will crush the Magnificent in the same way as he did to Kasparov.

sdq's picture

Anand may finish last & it doesn't matter to him. He is not here to win this tournament & prove some thing. He is here to experiment for the chennai match.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen will be in Chennai for experimental surgery !

Eadon's picture

If Anand is experimenting then he's betraying chess fans who have come to see him fight. It's selfish behaviour, especially as he hasn't a hope against Carlsen in any case, even with Home Country advantage.
But Anand isn't experimenting, he's simply struggling. And, of course, Carlsen is in the same position of Anand, is Carlsen experimenting too?

sdq's picture

Age definitely takes its toll, brother. Anand has to utilise his energy judiciously. He is not in a position to play like he used to 10 yrs ago. There is no betrayal or cheating here. These guys are professionals & tell me who will be able to refuse the BIG MONEY & REPUTATION associated with world champion.

Anonymous's picture

If Anand wants to experiment, he can switch Houdini on and try all sorts of things, instead of being restricted by his opponents's decisions and slow time controls. I'm tired of excuses such as "Anand doesn't care about stupid super-tournaments, the match in Chennai is all that he cares about". If that's really the case, he might just stay home and give his invitation to a promising young player like Rapport or So.

Adam & Eadon's picture

No fun experimenting on machines. The homo sapien is the best lab rat.


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