Tal Memorial starts in Moscow – Leko draws first blood

11/11/2007 – For the second time this event is being staged in Moscow, with ten players, all rated over 2700 and including heavyweights like Ivanchuk, Kramnik (appearing for the first time since "lending" his title to Anand), Leko, Mamedyarov, Shirov, Gelfand and Kamsky. In round one it was Peter Leko who scored the only victory, against Alexei Shirov. Illustrated report with games, pictures and videos.

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The second Mikhail Tal Memorial Tournament is being held in Moscow from November 9 to 23, 2007 at the historic Moscow Central Chess Club, which now has a zippier name: "The Central House of Chessplayers, named after Botvinnik". This year the chess festival consists of three major contests: a round-robin classical Category 20 chess tournament, the World Blitz Championship, and an "Advanced Chess" match between Vishi Anand and Vladimir Kramnik – all taking place within the framework of the Memorial. The full line-up for the main tournament is as follows:

1. Vassily Ivanchuk Ukraine 2787
2. Vladimir Kramnik Russia 2785
3. Peter Leko Hungary 2755
4. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2752
5. Alexey Shirov Spain 2739
6. Boris Gelfand Israel 2736
7. Gata Kamsky USA 2724
8. Evgeny Alekseev Russia 2716
9. Magnus Carlsen Norway 2714
10 Dmitry Jakovenko Russia 2710

Average Elo 2740, Category 20. Play starts each day at 15.00h Moscow time (13.00 European time). Games will be broadcast live on Playchess.com.


The full lineup. Back row: Shirov, Ivanchuk, Leko, Kramnik, Mamedyarov,
Kamsky, Gelfand; front: Jakovenko, Alekseev, Carlsen


The drawing of lots was done by having each player pick an umbrella, which had a number inside. Peter Leko got 1.


Mamedyarov asking "Am I number 6 or number 9?"


Boris Gelfand says "It's a six. I am 9!" (Pictures from the tournament web site)

The Russians are generally a very superstitious people, but they obviously do not have the English variation of it being bad luck to open up an umbrella whilst indoors! Next year they'll probably have numbered black cats running under ladders.


Video impressions at the start of round one [Europe Echecs]

Round one summary

Round 1: Saturday, November 10th, 2007
Peter Leko 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Evgeny Alekseev 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Dmitry Jakovenko 
½-½
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Gata Kamsky 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report

Peter Leko took the early lead, after being the only player to gain the full point. Shirov chose the New Archangel against Leko's Spanish, only to run into some Hungarian preparation, in the form of 15.f4, improving on a previous Leko game in the same line. As is always a danger in this variation, the bishop on b6 soon found itself badly shut out of play, and Shirov was reduced to sacrificing it for several pawns. However, it never really looked adequate, and Leko mopped up in short order.

Leko,P (2755) - Shirov,A (2739) [C78]
Tal Mem Moscow RUS (1), 10.11.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.d4 Bb6 10.Na3 0-0 11.axb5 axb5 12.Nxb5 Bg4 13.Bc2 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Nh5

15.f4 [15.Kh1 Qf6 16.Ra4 Nf4 17.Rg1 Ne7 18.Be3 Neg6 19.Rg3 Nh5 20.Rg4 h6 21.Na3 Nh4 22.Bd3 Ra8 23.Rxa8 Rxa8 24.Be2 Ng6 25.Nc4 Nhf4 26.Bf1 Ra2 27.Qb1 Ra4 28.Qd1 Ra2 29.Qb1 Ra4 30.Qd1 ½–½ Leko-Kariakin, Dortmund 2004] 15.Nxf4 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Qg4 Qf6 18.b4 Ne7 19.Na3 Ng6 20.Nc4 Bxd4!?


Interesting how Fritz 11 (prototype) comes up with the full line, including the queen exchange, which is executed in a slightly different way, as one of its first ideas in this position.

21.cxd4 Qxd4 22.Na5 Qd2 23.Bb3 Ne5 24.Nc4 Nxg4 25.Nxd2 Rxb4 26.Rfc1.

Now Shirov launches counterplay that doesn't work out: 26...Ne5 27.Rxc7 g5 28.Bd5 g4 29.Nc4 h5 30.Nxe5 dxe5 31.Re7 1-0.


The start of an exciting game between Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen [Photo Euro Echecs]

Kramnik-Carlsen was another Catalan, in which the former had crushed the young Norwegian at Dortmund earlier this year. This time Carlsen came to the board armed with a long prepared line, beginning 13...c5, and although White retained the extra pawn, Black's counterplay on the kingside light squares was enough to force a drawn rook ending. [Click to replay]

Kramnik,V (2785) - Carlsen,M (2714) [E05]
Tal Mem Moscow RUS (1), 10.11.2007
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Bd6 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Nbd2 Rc8 13.Nb3

13...c5 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 15.Nxc5 Be4 16.Qc3 e5 17.e3 Bxc5 18.dxc5 Qd5 19.Rad1 Qa8 20.Nh4 Bxg2 21.Nxg2 Ne4 22.Qxe5 Rxc5 23.Qd4 Rc4 24.Qd3 Ng5 25.b3 Rc5 26.h4 Nf3+ 27.Kh1 Qc8 28.Nf4 Qg4 29.Qd7 Rf5 30.Rd5

White is a pawn up and aiming at a swap-and-torture continuation. But Magnus has a bold solution: 30...Rxf4 31.exf4 f5 32.Qe6+ Kh8 33.Qxf5 Qxf5 34.Rxf5 Rxf5 35.Rd1 g5 36.hxg5 Nxg5 37.fxg5 Rxf2 38.a4 bxa4 39.bxa4 Ra2 40.Rd4 ½-½. [Click to replay]


Once again it is interesting to see Fritz 11 working this out, all the way to the end of the game, in a one-and-a-half minute ponder (on a single core machine).


Video interview with Vladimir Kramnik after the game [Europe Echecs]

Jakovenko-Mamedyarov was an interesting struggle, in which the latter showed some creative ideas, to notch another draw in his favourite Deferred Steinitz Defence to the Spanish. Alekseev-Ivanchuk was agreed drawn just when the position was looking most interesting, whilst Kamsky-Gelfand saw a very original opening. Kamsky emerged with a solid extra pawn, and should surely have been much better, when suddenly, at move 27, he quite inexplicably donated back the pawn, whereupon a draw was agreed immediately.

Kamsky,G (2714) - Gelfand,B (2736) [A22]
Tal Mem Moscow RUS (1), 10.11.2007
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.g3 Bb4 4.Nf3 Bxc3 5.bxc3 e4 6.Nd4 0-0 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 Qxd5 9.f3 c5 10.fxe4 Nxe4 11.Qb3 Qh5 12.Bxe4 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Bb2 Bh3 15.Bf3 Qg5 16.Rc1 Rad8 17.Rc5 Qf6 18.Rh5 Bc8 19.d5 Nd4 20.Bxd4 Qxd4 21.Rh4 Qe5 22.0-0 b6 23.d4 Qg5 24.e4 Ba6 25.Rd1 Rc8 26.Rf4 Qd8

27.e5 Bc4 28.Qb2 Bxd5 29.Qb5 ½-½. [Click to replay]

Game summaries by Steve Giddins

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