Tal R07: Ivanchuk beats Gelfand

11/13/2009 – Four draws today, in 23, 31, 36 and 40 moves, with Morozevich holding Anand to a draw and preventing the World Champion from catching up with his predecessor Kramnik. The game of the day was Ivanchuk-Gelfand, two winners of round six. There was only one winner today: Vassily Ivanchuk, who moves up to share second with Anand. Report plus an interview with Alexander Morozevich.

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Tal Memorial 2009

The Tal Memorial, which is taking place from November 4th to 19th, is the strongest tournament of the year, and at category 21 (average Elo 2764) one of the strongest of all time. It is a ten-player round robin with classical time controls – 40 moves in two hours, then 20 moves in one hour and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds increment per move in this phase. The first four games take place in the National Hotel (Mokhovaya Street D15), the last five in the mall GUM (Red Square 3). The games start at 15:00h local Moscow time, which is 13:00h EST (Berlin, Paris), 12:00h London, 7:00 a.m. New York, 5:30 p.m. New Delhi, 11:00 p.m. Sydney. You can find the exact starting time at your location here. The World Blitz Championship (see below) will be staged after the main event, from November 16-18 2009 in GUM.

Round seven report

Round 7: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Peter Leko

Aronian-Kramnik
Returning from a rough encounter yesterday, Aronian was likely thrilled to accept the draw against the tournament leader today. The game represented a transposition of Schmidt-Kallai (1985), right up to 9...Qd8. Where the Pole and the Hungarian chose to split the point immediately, however, these super-GMs felt like exploring the position further. Unfortunately, the early handshake proved justifiable, as the best our competitors could find today was a rapid simplification, resulting in a virtually deadlocked rooks and pawns ending. As a result, Kramnik preserved his lead with a quick 23-move conclusion.

Anand-Morozevich
Holding the white pieces against Morozevich, currently on the rebound from a loss to Ivanchuk, some expected Anand to score the victory needed to join Kramnik in the lead today. This proved a tall order, however, as the Russian stood his ground. The game initially followed the game Kortschnoj-Ivanchuk (2007), eventually diverting from the known with 11...Qc7. The referenced game was a 22-move crush for Ivanchuk, but Morozevich could only hope to be so fortunate today. Learning from Kortschnoj's mistake in the rapid game, in which he left his king a little too airy, which allowed for an easy transition to the collection of a few pawns, Anand ensured some luft for his king and kept the back rank occupied until the queens were off the board. Unfortuantely, solid play does not always equate to a decisive finish, a point which the players were forced to admit in shaking hands on move 36.

Svidler-Carlsen
This particular encounter saw an elderly 33-year-old Svidler held to a draw by an infirm Norwegian youngster. In a 2...Nc6 3.Bb5 line of the Sicilian, without ...g6, the game replicated Wohl-Xie from the 2005 Australian Championship, up until 12.Nbd2. Here, Xie chose to play 12...Be7, in hopes of castling kingside, only to see his position quickly collapse after a misadventure with his queen. Though 12.Nbd2 can hardly be faulted for the subsequent forfeiture on move 27 in that game, Carlsen instead sought to occupy the long diagonal with 12...Bb7. The position was sharp, with odds generally favouring White. Taking a page out of Kramnik's manual, Svidler even brought a pawn to the seventh, with 25.c7. Unfortunately, Svidler quickly reacquainted himself with the difficulties of taking out a 2800 - even an ill one - and allowed a perpetual to end the game on move 40.

Ponomariov-Leko
Today's encounter between these two hapless players, currently languishing in the bottom portion of the standings, saw the employment of an Open Catalan, with a typical 5.Nf3 ...Be7 set-up. With 17.Qd3, Ponomariov left theory, where 17.Ne5 had previously proved fortuitous for White, as handled by a certain GM Mikhalevski. Ponomariov's chosen path saw quick exchanges, leaving a lamentable minor pieces + pawns ending, serving as an impetus for the agreed draw on move 31. Leko currently enjoys the lowest performance rating in the tournament, at 2657, while Ponomariov looks down from above on three players who are all higher rated them himself.

Ivanchuk-Gelfand
Yesterday, these two players served notice that they are looming large, each scoring admirable victories over world-class opposition. This made their individual encounter today that much more enticing, as each sought to inch closer to Kramnik in the standings. Not to disappoint, they came out with fists flying, in a 3.Nf3 sideline of the Slav Defence. Up to 9.Bxc4, the line employed conformed to theory – with known results lopsidedly sitting in White's favour. That said, this statistic alone was hardly telling, as White's average rating across these games was heavily favourable as well. With 9...Bd6, Gelfand avoided all theory, leaving Ivanchuk to find his own solutions. Ever the eclecticist, the Ukrainian proved up to the task, as Gelfand's handling of White's advanced d-pawn proved fatally flawed, leaving White with pawn threats on both wings, which, in combination, Black could not keep contained. Much preferred to 36...g5, was the try 36...Rc6, leaving the h-pawn intact; thus, quelling the kingside threats that arose in the game. As a result, the Israeli capitulated on move 43, leaving Ivanchuk in joint second with Anand, a mere half-point off Kramnik's pace.

Michael von Keitz

Standings after seven rounds


Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich:
"Kasparov could compete for the highest title even now”

Iztvestia interview with Mikhail Shpenkov

The ongoing Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow has brought together almost all of the world chess elite – eight of the top ten! One of the contenders for a top prize is the Muscovite Alexander Morozevich. At the recent European team championships in Serbia, he scored the best result in our team and won the individual gold medal for his board. He spoke with Izvestiya’s correspondent, about the place of the Tal Memorial in world chess, his relations with other top players, and various other subjects.

Q: At the European championship, you played excellently, but the Russian team was still one point away from winning gold. Do you feel bad about this?

A: I have mixed feelings about the event. Of course, it was nice to win my last three games in a row, but at the same time, it was a shame that the team only came second.

Q: You only played six games out of nine in this championship. Were you surprised that the team management left you out of the line-up in the middle of the event?

A: Generally, the first two boards play throughout without being substituted. But the trainers discussed this tactic with me and gave me a break in the middle of the battle. The main thing is that the move justified itself – at the finish, I scored 100%.

Q: Turning to the Tal Memorial, how do you assess its strength?

A: I personally have no doubt that this is the strongest event in the FIDE calendar, in terms of the quality of the players. Of course, there are some foreign events, which can boast a slightly higher average rating than the Memorial. But in most of them you only get four, maximum six, elite players. But to get a category 21 with ten players, as we have here, the organisers need to work extremely hard. They have invited practically all the greatest players in the world. Eight players from the first ten! Plus ex-FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, and Vassily Ivanchuk, who at the moment has a slightly lower rating than usual.

Q: Even so, the highest rated player of all, Veselin Topalov, is absent. Does his absence bother you?

A: You know, I will tell my personal, absolutely subjective point of view. Personally, I do not find it boring to play without Topalov either in Moscow, or in any other tournament. Although, I repeat, there are probably millions of other chess lovers who have a different opinion on this matter.

Q: Do you attach serious significance to your rating?

A: I reacted fairly calmly to the fact that I was back in the top ten – I am already used to it (laughs). But it would be wrong to ignore the fact, because being in the top ten guarantees invitations to the majority of strong tournaments.

Q: The youngest player in the Tal Memorial, Magnus Carlsen, recently revealed that he is working with Garry Kasparov. Do you think he has started to play better?

A: It is still too early to say. Carlsen came to notice when he was only 15, and his recent successes are no surprise to anyone. As for what Kasparov can give him, we will see in the near future.

Q: And could Kasparov himself still get back to his former level?

A: Such a charismatic personality as he simply could not do otherwise than fight for the highest title. I am convinced that he could compete successfully against any elite GM. The only thing is, I do not know if that accords with Garry Kimovich’s own plans.


Schedule and results

Round 1: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Alex. Morozevich 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Round 2: Friday, November 6, 2009
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Round 3: Saturday, November 7, 2009
Alex. Morozevich 
0-1
 Vladimir Kramnik
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Peter Leko
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Vishy Anand 
1-0
 Peter Svidler
Round 4: Sunday, November 8, 2009
Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
 Peter Svidler
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Alex. Morozevich 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Monday, November 9, 2009 Free day
M T W T F S S
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 27 27 29 29
Round 5: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand 
1-0
 Peter Leko
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Round 6: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Alex. Morozevich 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Boris Gelfand 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Round 7: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Round 8: Friday, November 13, 2009
Vladimir Kramnik 
-
 Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen 
-
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Alex. Morozevich 
-
 Peter Svidler
Boris Gelfand 
-
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Games – Report
Round 9: Saturday, November 14, 2009
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Vladimir Kramnik
Vishy Anand 
-
 Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler 
-
 Boris Gelfand
Ruslan Ponomariov 
-
 Alex. Morozevich
Peter Leko 
-
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report

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