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Mikhail Tal Memorial 2012: Round 1

June 9, 2012

White had all the fun in round 1 of the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial chess tournament. Four games were won by players with the white pieces and black managed no better than a draw on the remaining board. This is a dramataic turn of events for the chess fans of Moscow. After being treated to a draw fest in the Anand-Gelfand match last month, Russians can celebrate the return of “real chess” to the Red Square.

Below is my favorite game from round one with analysis:

[Event “Tal Memorial”]

[Site “Moscow”]

[Date “2012.06.08”]

[Round “1”]

[White “Alexander Morozevich”]

[Black “Fabiano Caruana”]

[Result “1-0”]

[ECO “C81”]

[Opening “Spanish”]

[Variation “Open, Keres, 10.Rd1 O-O 11.c3”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 {Morozevich chooses the Ruy Lopez.} a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 {Now its the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Every Russian school boy knows this line and apparently some Italian ones as well.} 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Qe2 {This is not a common move for this line. Morozevich is notorious for straying from main lines early and setting up messy complications.} Be7 10. Rd1 {This is why Morozevich played Qe2. Now he can add more pressure to the weak pawn on d5.} Na5 11. c3 {This is a real surprise. Caruana and I were expecting to see Nbd2.} Nxb3 {Morozevich looses a bishop pair…} 12. axb3 {But develops a rook by moving a pawn out of the way.} O-O 13. Nd4 Qe8 14. f3 Nc5 15. b4 Nb7 16. Be3 {Morozevich is collecting small advantages in time, space, force, and pawn structure.} Bd7 17. Na3 c6 {Caruana has played accurately but white is still noticeably better.} 18. Nac2 a5 {Caruana wants to free himself from his cramped status by exchanging material.} 19. f4 Qc8 (19. .. axb4 20. cxb4 Rxa1 21. Rxa1 {Gives white the a-file. Caruana was wise to avoid this.}) 20. h3 Re8 21. Bf2 Bf8 {Caruana still is apprehensive about trading pawns on b4 because his rooks are not yet unified.} 22. Qf3 Ra6 23. Ne3 Qa8 {Caruana can not seem to untangle himself.} 24. Ndc2 Qd8 (24. .. axb4 25. Rxa6 Qxa6 26. Ra1 Qb6 27. Nxd5 Qd8 28. Bb6 Qh4 29. Ndxb4 {Is terrible for black.}) 25. bxa5 Nc5 {Caruana attempts to complicate matters rather than just allow recapturing with his rook and giving Morozevich the file.} 26. b4 Ne4 27. Rd3 {c3 must be defended. The other logical choice was Nf1.} f6 {27 moves into the game and Caruana’s pieces are still sleeping. At least if white captures on f6 black can awaken his queen.} 28. Bh4 {This is slightly inaccurate. If exf6 Qxf6 then Ng4.} g5 {This position is ridiculously complicated. Its a pleasure to see the messes on the chess board that Morozevich can instigate.} 29. fxg5 (29. Rad1 gxh4 30. Nxd5 cxd5 31. Rxd5 Re7 32. Qxe4 {This is an interesting alternative to the move that was played}) 29. .. fxg5 30. Bg3 Bg7 31. Bh2 (31. Ng4 Qe7 32. Re3 Rf8 33. Qe2 {Is an improvement for white.}) 31. .. Rf8 {Caruana gains the initiative.} 32. Qe2 Rf2 33. Qe1 g4 {Too soon. It would have been better to play Qc8 first. Perhaps Caruana did not feel he had time to prepare g4.} 34. Rd4 {My computer disagrees with this move but I love it. The threat is simply Rxe4. Now Caruana will have to retreat his rook.} Rf8 35. Rad1 Qe8 {Caruana moves his queen out of the d-file to avoid tactics involving white’s rooks and for possible deployment on h5.} 36. Nxg4 Bf5 37. Nce3 {Morozevich came out of the complications ahead in material and with a passed pawn.} Bg6 38. Nf1 {Morozevich misses the game winner.} (38. c4 bxc4 39. b5 c5 40. Rxe4 Bxe4 41. bxa6 d4 42. Nxc4 {and Caruana could resign.}) 38. .. h5 39. Nge3 Ra7 {Caruana is right back in the game.} 40. Ng3 Bxe5 41. Nxe4 Bxd4 42. cxd4 Qxe4 {Caruana makes a small error.} (42. .. Bxe4 43. Bd6 Rf6 44. Be5 Rg6 {Makes a lot more sense.}) 43. Be5 Kh7 44. Rc1 Raf7 {Another error.} (44. .. Be8 45. Nf1 Qxe1 46. Rxe1 Rg8 {and I think black can draw.}) 45. Kh2 {Morozevich punishes Caruana for his mistakes.} Rf2 46. Rxc6 (46. a6 Qf3 47. Rxc6 Be4 48. Rc7+ Rf7 49. Rxf7+ Qxf7 50. Qc3 Ra2 51. Qc8 {Also works well.}) 46. .. R8f3 47. Rc7+ Bf7 {Caruana must play Kh6 to maintain hope.} 48. Kh1 (48. a6 Ra2 49. a7 {Looks like an easier way to win.}) 48. .. Rf1+ 49. Qxf1 Rxf1+ 50. Nxf1 Kg6 51. Rc6+ Kh7 52. Ng3 {I wonder what Morozevich has against pushing a passed pawn. No matter… He has this game wrapped up like a ravioli.} Qb1+ 53. Kh2 h4 54. Ne2 Qxb4 55. Rc7 Kg8 56. a6 1-0


Standings after round 1 of the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial

Tal Memorial Tournament

Alexander Grischuk 1/1 (+1 -0 =0)
Teimour Radjabov 1/1 (+1 -0 =0)
Alexander Morozevich 1/1 (+1 -0 =0)
Levon Aronian 1/1 (+1 -0 =0)
Vladimir Kramnik 0.5/1 (+0 -0 =1)
Magnus Carlsen 0.5/1 (+0 -0 =1)
Luke McShane 0/1 (+0 -1 =0)
Hikaru Nakamura 0/1 (+0 -1 =0)
Fabiano Caruana 0/1 (+0 -1 =0)
Evgeny Tomashevsky 0/1 (+0 -1 =0)


The other games from round 1 of the 2012 Tal Memorial:


[Event “Tal Memorial”] [Site “Moscow”] [Date “2012.06.08”] [EventDate “2012.06.07”] [Round “1”] [Result “1-0”] [White “Levon Aronian”] [Black “Hikaru Nakamura”] [ECO “A29”]

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6 7.O-O Be7 8.d3 O-O 9.Be3 f5 10.Rc1 Kh8 11.a3 Bf6 12.Bc5 Re8 13.b4 Be6 14.Re1 Qd7 15.e4 a6 16.Bh3 g6 17.Be3 Qg7 18.Ng5 Bg8 19.Nf3 f4 20.Bxb6 cxb6 21.Nd5 g5 22.Bd7 Re6 23.Bxe6 Bxe6 24.Nxf6 Qxf6 25.Rxc6 bxc6 26.Qa1 a5 27.Qxe5 Qxe5 28.Nxe5 axb4 29.axb4 c5 30.bxc5 bxc5 31.gxf4 gxf4 32.Kg2 Ra3 33.Kf3 c4 34.Kxf4 cxd3 35.Rd1 Ra2 36.Nxd3 Bc4 37.f3 Rxh2 38.Ne5 Ba2 39.Rd7 Rh6 40.Nf7+ Bxf7 41.Rxf7 Kg8 42.Rf5 Rh1 43.e5 h5 44.Rg5+ Kf8 45.Kf5 h4 46.Rh5 Kg7 47.f4 h3 48.Ke6 Kg6 49.Rg5+ Kh6 50.Kf5 Rh2 51.Rg8 Rh1 52.e6 h2 53.Rg2  1-0


[Event “Tal Memorial”] [Site “Moscow”] [Date “2012.06.08”] [EventDate “2012.06.07”] [Round “1”] [Result “1-0”] [White “Teimor Radjabov”] [Black “Evgeny Tomashevsky”] [ECO “C45”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Nb3 Bb6 6. Nc3 d6 7. Qe2 Nge7 8. Be3 O-O 9. O-O-O f5 10. exf5 Bxf5 11. h3 Bd7 12. Qd2 Bxe3 13. Qxe3 Kh8 14. Bd3 Qe8 15. f4 Qf7 16. Rhf1 Rae8 17. Qd2 Nb4 18. Be4 Bc6 19. Rde1 Bxe4 20. Nxe4 Qc4 21. a3 Nbc6 22. Qc3 Qd5 23. Nbd2 Nf5 24. g4 Nfd4 25. Qd3 b5 26. Kb1 b4 27. a4 h6 28. Nb3 Re7 29. Ned2 Rxe1+ 30. Rxe1 g5 31. f5 1-0


[Event “Tal Memorial”] [Site “Moscow “] [Date “2012.06.08”] [EventDate “2012.06.07”] [Round “1”] [Result “1/2-1/2”] [White “Magnus Carlsen”] [Black “Vladimir Kramnik”] [ECO “E32”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. e3 b6 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Bd3 Ba6 10. Bxa6 Nxa6 11. Qd3 Qc8 12. Ne2 c5 13. b3 cxd4 14. Qxd4 Nc5 15. Qd1 Qa6 16. Nf4 d4 17. b4 dxe3 18. bxc5 Qa5+ 19. Kf1 Rad8 20. Qc2 Qb5+ 21. Ke1 Qa5+ 22. Kf1 Qb5+ 23. Ke1 Qa5+ 1/2-1/2


[Event “Tal Memorial”] [Site “Moscow”] [Date “2012.06.08”] [EventDate “2012.06.07”] [Round “1”] [Result “1-0”] [White “Alexander Grischuk”] [Black “Luke McShane”] [ECO “A29”]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. e3 a6 8. d4 Ba7 9. h3 Rb8 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. b3 Nxf3+ 12. Qxf3 b5 13. Qe2 bxc4 14. Qxc4 a5 15. Bb2 Bd7 16. Rac1 Bc5 17. Rfd1 Re8 18. Na4 Bxa4 19. Qxa4 Bb6 20. Bc6 Re7 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Qg4+ Kh8 23. Rc4 Re5 24. Rd5 Qe7 25. Qf3 Rg8 26. Kg2 Rg6 27. b4 axb4 28. Rxb4 Kg7 29. a4 Qe6 30. h4 f5 31. Rf4 Rf6 32. Kh2 h6 33. h5 Kf8 34. Kg2 Kg7 35. Kh2 Kf8 36. Kg2 Kg7 37. Qd1 Kf8 38. Kf1 Qc8 39. Qd3 Kg7 40. Kg2 Rxd5 41. Bxd5 Qe8 42. Rxf5 Rxf5 43. Qxf5 Qe7 44. Bb3 Qf6 45. Qd5 c5 46. Bc4 Ba5 47. f4 Qe7 48. Kf2 Bc3 49. Ke2 Bb4 50. g4 Qd7 51. Kd3 Qe7 52. g5 hxg5 53. fxg5 Be1 54. g6 fxg6 55. Qg8+ Kf6 56. Qxg6+ Ke5 57. h6 d5 58. Qg7+ Qf6 59. Bxd5 Bh4 60. Kc4 Kd6 61. Qxf6+ Bxf6 62. a5 Kc7 63. h7 1-0

Mikhail Tal Memorial 2012: Round 1 Preview

June 8, 2012

Round 1 of the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial Chess Tournament is about to begin. After a hard fought 9 round blitz tournament, we now have a clearer picture of what to expect in the main event. First off, Alexander Morozevich surprised his Russian fans by winning the blitz tournament on his home turf in Moscow. Alexander’s victory should put him in a good mood for tomorrow’s round 1. Hikaru Nakamura’s confidence might be raddled after failing to finish in the top half of the final standings.  However, Nakamura still performed remarkably well especially when compared to Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik, a former chess world champion, finished second to last with only 2.5 points out of 9 rounds. Either Vladimir really didn’t care or he is a good actor at portraying a lousy blitz player.  All and all, the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament offered spectacular action and should have wet the appetitites of chess fans for the main event.

Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament Final Standings

1) Alexander Morozevich     6.5/9

2) Magnus Carlsen              6.5/9

3) Teimor Radjabov              5.5/9

4) Alexander Grischuk         5.5/9

5) Levon Aronian                  5/9

6) Hikaru Nakamura           5/9

7) Evgeny Tomashevsky     3.5/9

8) Luke McShane                 3/9

9) Vladimir Kramnik           2.5/9

10) Fabiano Caruana           2/9

2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial  Round 1 Pairings

1) Alexander Morozevich

Fabiano Caruana

2) Magnus Carlsen

Vladimir Kramnik

3) Alexander Grischuk

Luke McShane

4) Teimor Radjabov

Evgeny Tomashevsky

5) Levon Aronian

Hikaru Nakamura

2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Miniatures

[Event "Tal Memorial (Blitz)"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2012.06.07"]
[Round "9"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "A Morozevich"]
[Black "V Kramnik"]
[ECO "A05"]
[PlyCount "18"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b6 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O c5 5. d3 g6 6. e4 Bg7 7. Nh4 Qc8 8.
f4 O-O 9. Nc3 Nc6 1-0

[Event "Tal Memorial (Blitz)"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2012.06.07"]
[Round "7"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "F Caruana"]
[Black "L Aronian"]
[ECO "C67"]
[PlyCount "26"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Bxe7
Qxe7 8. Bxc6 dxc6 9. dxe5 Nf5 10. Nc3 Bd7 11. Qe2 O-O-O 12. Rad1 Kb8 13. b4

[Event "Tal Memorial (Blitz)"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2012.06.07"]
[Round "5"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "T Radjabov"]
[Black "L Aronian"]
[ECO "D11"]
[PlyCount "34"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c6 3. c4 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Nbd2 e6 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. b3 Bd6 8.
Bb2 Qb8 9. Qc2 a5 10. a3 Bh5 11. h3 Bg6 12. Bxg6 hxg6 13. O-O Rh5 14. e4
dxe4 15. Nxe4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 Kf8 17. Rfe1 Kg8 1-0

[Event "Tal Memorial (Blitz)"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2012.06.07"]
[Round "2"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "E Tomashevsky"]
[Black "V Kramnik"]
[ECO "A29"]
[PlyCount "10"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 1-0

[Event "Tal Memorial (Blitz)"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2012.06.07"]
[Round "4"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "L Aronian"]
[Black "V Kramnik"]
[ECO "C53"]
[PlyCount "24"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. b4 Bb6 6. d3 d6 7. a4 a5 8. b5
Ne7 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. O-O Ng6 11. Ba2 h6 12. Nc4 Ba7 1-0

Mikhail Tal Memorial 2012

June 7, 2012

It’s almost time for the most exciting chess tournament of the year to begin. The seventh annual Tal Memorial Chess Tournament in Moscow  will have its opening ceremonies on June 7. It is important to clarify the distinction between the main tournament and the blitz tournament do to the fact that the same 10 players will battle in the blitz event to decide the order of their opponents. The Blitz event also has a separate prize fun of 15,000 euros and the top five will receive one more game with the white pieces during the main event.

The 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial main event should be an incredibly exciting chess spectacular. The ten combatants are made up largely of the best and brightest stars of chess. A controversial rule for the tournament states that the players are not allowed to offer a draw before  40 moves have been played.  Mixing the most exciting chess players with a rule that forbids early draws and then adding a 100,000 euro prize fund should be a recipe for an exciting chess tournament.

Tournament details for the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial are as follows:

Location: Moscow, Russia

Format: 10 player round-robin(nine rounds.)

Time Control: 1 hour 40 minutes for 40 moves plus 50 minutes for 20 moves plus 15 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30 second increment per move, starting from the first move.


1. Magnus Carlsen

Magnus is known as the “Mozart of chess” and is the world’s number one rated chess player. This young gun took the first place prize at the 2011 Mikhail Tal Memorial.

2.  Levon Aronian

Levon is the world’s second highest rated chess player with an incredible rating of 2823. At last years Mikhail Tal memorial he finished the main event tied for first with Magnus.

3. Vladimir Kramnik

Kramnik is the third and final member of the current 2800 rating club. Vladimir Kramnik is also a former World Chess Champion and recently won the London Chess Classic ahead of both Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian.

4.  Teimour Radjabov

Teimor Radjabov is ranked number four in the world with a current FIDE rating of 2784. Teimor became a a chess grand master at the young age of 14 which makes him the second youngest ever to achieve the grand master title.

5. Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru is the fifth highest rated chess player on earth. Hikaru just finished winning the United States Chess Championship and is in excellent form.

6. Fabiano Caruana

At age 19 Fabiano is the youngest chess player in the field. Don’t think for a second that his age is a handicap. The young Italian is currently rated at 2769 which is only 11 points behind Viswanthan Anand.

7. Alexander Morozevich

Morozevich shares the same rating of 2769 with Caruana. Alexander is my favorite chess player in the field do to his risky style which produces few draws. Unfortunately for Alexander, his style is perfectly suited for a World Championship match but not ideal for this tournaments format.

8. Alexander Grischuk

Grishchuk won both the Russian Championship and the Linares Chess Tournament in 2009. Alexander seems ready for a big performance to rejoin the top 10 in the world.

9. Evgeny Tomashevsky

Tomashevsky is known as the “professor” do to the fact that he plays positional chess like an old man despite his young age.

10. Luke McShane

McShane should never be underestimated. Of all his notable results, my favorite is the fact that he won the World Chess Championship for players under the age of ten at the age of eight. McShane is very popular with chess enthusiasts and was voted into the Tal Memorial by his many fans.

Please return to this chess blog for updates and analysis on the 2012 Mikhail Tal Memorial chess tournament from Moscow, Russia.

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