Tal R08: Carlsen beats Ponomariov, moves to sole fourth

11/13/2009 – Feeling better? At last the top seed Magnus Carlsen, 18, has scored a win in this tournament. It came in the form of an explosive English Attack in the Scheveningen, which floored the former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov in 31 moves (actually with a mate in three). With plus one Carlsen now occupies fourth place alone, behind Kramnik, Anand and Ivanchuk. Full report with annotations.

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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 eight report

Round 8: Friday, November 13, 2009
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Alex. Morozevich 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk

Aronian-Ivanchuk
In the Open Catalan employed by these two familiar faces, yesterday's victimizer seemed ready to play the role of prey. To Black's fifteenth move, the game was a transposition of Lalic-Piza Cortizo from the Valencia Open of 1990. Ultimately, White took the full point in that game, and, given its dynamic nature, one can hardly be surprised that the players today were equally enchanted by the opportunity to explore the possibilities the position offered. The game was rather even throughout; however, Aronian found himself a pawn to the good after the series of exchanges ending with 37.Kxb3. Faced with a pawn down rook ending, Ivanchuk may have taken a slight misstep with 42...Rh4. The resulting ending seemed favourable to White, but Black played solidly and the Armenian was left with no more than a draw after 58 moves. Despite this close shave, Ivanchuk maintains his position in Kramnik's exclusive chasing pack, with hopes of catching the leader tomorrow.

Aronian,L (2786) - Ivanchuk,V (2739) [E05]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (8), 13.11.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Bf4 Bd6 13.Nbd2 Bxf4. Ordinarily n black captures on f4, he does so only with a knight. For example, as in the recently popular variation:13...Nd5 14.Nb3 Nxf4 15.gxf4 Nd7 16.Rd1 with perhaps a small edge for White. 14.gxf4 Qd6 15.Nb3 Nbd7 16.Rd1 a5 17.Ne5 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 a4 19.Nc5 Nxc5 20.Qxc5 Qxc5 21.dxc5 Rfd8 22.Nc6 Rxd1 23.Rxd1 Kf8 24.Kf3. Although White has played logically and possesses slightly the more active pieces, this small advantage is unlikely to amount to anything tangible. 24...Ke8 25.Nb4 Nd7 26.c6 Nc5 27.Rc1 Na6 28.Nxa6 Rxa6 29.e4 b4 30.Rc5 f5 31.exf5 exf5 32.Ke3 Ke7 33.Kd4 Kd6 34.Kc4 b3 35.axb3 axb3 36.Rxf5 Rxc6+ 37.Kxb3 Rc1 38.h4 Rf1 39.Rg5 Rxf2 40.Rxg7 Rxf4 41.Rxh7 c5 42.h5 Rh4 43.h6 Kc6 44.Kc3 Kd5 45.Rh8 Rh3+ 46.Kd2 Kc6 47.Ke2 Kb7 48.Kf2 c4 49.Kg2 Rh5 50.Kf3 Rh4 51.Kg3 Rh1 52.Kf4 Rh2 53.Ke5 Rxb2 54.Kd4 Rb6 55.Kxc4 Rg6 56.Kd5 Rf6 57.Ke5 Rc6 58.Rh7+ Kb8 draw. [Click to replay]


Gelfand-Anand
In the second Open Catalan of the day, Gelfand and Anand played a transposition of Tkachiev-Pelletier (2007), in which the current French champion coughed up a few pawns and lost in the endgame grind that followed. 14...Nab4 represented a deviation, however, and the players fairly calmly navigated their way through to a position that, objectively, may have been slightly better for White. Though, after his loss yesterday, Gelfand was not going to take unnecessary chances against the world champion. Holding the black pieces, Anand was quite happy to split the point, which the players agreed to do on move 28.

Gelfand,B (2758) - Anand,V (2788) [E05]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (8), 13.11.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4. This move is considered somewhat unambitious compared to the immediate recapture of the c4-pawn, though Alexey Shirov recently won with the white pieces in this line. 8...Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bf4 a5 11.Nc3 Na6 12.Ne5 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Nd5 14.Rad1 Nab4. Played after fifteen minutes of thought by the World Champion. The previously mentioned Shirov game continued with the immediate removal of white's bishop 15...Nxf4+ and only two moves later did black occupy the b4-square with his remaining knight. In that game however, White was able to make use of the open g-file and e5-outpost and won convincingly in Shirov-Landa, Budesliga 2009. 15.Bc1. Now that White's queen's rook has been activated behind the potentially open d-file, retreating the bishop to c1 will not impede his development. 15...Nb6 16.Qb3 N4d5 17.Nb5 c6 18.Na3 Nb4 19.e4 Nd7 20.Nxd7 Qxd7 21.Nc4 Qd8 22.Be3. Optically speaking, White has a slight advantage based on more space, and slightly better minor pieces. However, after the pawn break on Black's next move, play quickly levels off. 22...b5! 23.Ne5 Qc7 24.Nd3 Qb7 25.Nxb4 Bxb4 26.f3 bxa4 27.Qxa4 Qb5 28.Qc2 draw. [Click to replay]


Kramnik-Leko
Today's encounter between the tournament leader and his opponent, who was already eliminated from contention, was hardly worth writing home about. The game was a transposition of a handful of games - Jussupow-Sax (1989) amongst them - right up until move 27! Choosing a deep line that yielded four draws in as many games certainly led to expected results, as the players split the point on the 36th move. In fact, where 27.Rxd8 was chosen in the past, leading to rapid conclusions, Kramnik opted to extend the length of the game a bit by playing the cheeky 27.Rxh7+. Spectators should not despair, however, as Kramnik's opponent tomorrow - Ivanchuk - cannot be expected to be as submissive.

Kramnik,V (2772) - Leko,P (2752) [E15]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (8), 13.11.2009
In the penultimate round against Peter Leko, tournament leader Vladimir Kramnik decided to avoid any risks and entered a known drawing line against the Queen's Indian Defence. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0-0 12.0-0 Rc8 13.e4 c5 14.exd5 exd5 15.dxc5 dxc4 16.c6 cxb3 17.Re1 Bb5 18.Nxb3. 18.axb3 is more combative. 18...Bxc6 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Nd4 Bxg2 21.Nf5+ Kh8 22.Rxe7 Bh3 23.Qd4+ Ne5 24.Qxe5+ f6 25.Qe2 Bxf5 26.Rd1 Bg4 27.Rxh7+ Following: 27.Rxd8 Bxe2 28.Rxf8+ Rxf8 29.Rxe2 the game is similarly drawn. 27...Kxh7 28.Qxg4 Qe8 29.Rd7+ Rf7 30.Rxf7+ Qxf7 31.Qxc8 Qxa2 32.Qf5+ Kg7 33.Qg4+ Kh7 34.Qh5+ Kg7 35.Qg4+ Kh7 36.Qh5+ Kg7 draw. [Click to replay]


Morozevich-Svidler
These unfortunate souls must be on the verge of despondency, having been lost to obscurity at the bottom of the crosstable for some time now. Up to Black's fifteenth move, the game followed the Taimanov Sicilian employed in Khamatgaleev-Jansa (1997), where Black scored a quick 31-move victory. Today's play was much more solid, with little in the way of fireworks, leaving the draw reached on move 49 a small surprise. Neither player seems poised to break his winless streak, though only tomorrow's results will confirm this suspicion.

Morozevich,A (2750) - Svidler,P (2754) [B46]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (8), 13.11.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Bg5 Be7 10.e5 Nd7 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Re1 c5 13.b3 Bb7 14.Qh5 h6 15.f4 0-0 16.Qe2 f6 17.exf6 Rxf6 18.Rad1 Qd6 19.f5 Although this move is given as best by Fritz, it leads to drawish simplifications. Maintaining the tension with 19.g3 might have kept more complexity in the position. 19...exf5 20.Nxd5 Bxd5 21.Bc4 Nb6 22.Bxd5+ Nxd5 23.Qf3 Rd8 24.c4 Re6 25.Rxe6 Qxe6 26.cxd5 Qe5 27.Qd3 Rd6 28.h3 f4 With the reduced material, a draw is the most likely result. 29.Kf2 Kh8 30.Rd2 g5 31.Kf1 Kg7 32.Qc4 h5 33.Qxc5 g4 34.hxg4 hxg4 35.Qd4 Kf6 36.Qd3 a5 37.Rd1 Kg5 38.Kf2 Qb2+ 39.Rd2 Qe5 40.Rd1 Qb2+ 41.Qd2 Qxd2+ 42.Rxd2 Kf5 43.g3 fxg3+ 44.Kxg3 Ke4 45.a3 Rxd5 46.Rxd5 Kxd5 47.b4 axb4 48.axb4 Kc4 49.Kxg4 Kxb4 draw. [Click to replay]


Carlsen-Ponomariov
After today's result, the sole 2800 in this event has finally brought his rating performance on par with his actual rating. Battling back from an inconvenient illness, he made a resounding statement to the chess world at large with his crush today - watch out! The game started out as a fairly innocuous Sicilian Schevenigen, with Carlsen making a bold contribution to theory with 11.Qe1, unexpectedly ignoring tried and tested continuations. In a move reminiscent of his 15...b5 against Kramnik - which, granted, was not as immediately damaging - Ponomariov saw his hopes dissolve with 17...d5. Basing his play on mating themes thereafter, Magnus readily found his way to a position where surrender was the Ukrainian's only sound response.

Carlsen,M (2801) - Ponomariov,R (2739) [B80]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (8), 13.11.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.g4 h6 10.0-0-0 Ne5. 10...Bb7 is more popular. 11.Qe1. Played after a long thought from Carlsen, this move appears to be a novelty. 11...Qc7 12.h4 b4 13.Nce2 Nc4 14.Nf4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3

15...Qb6. It would be too soon for Black's bishop to leave the c8-h3 diagonal. On 15...Bb7, White might already consider the thematic sacrifice 16.Ndxe6! with a strong attack. It should also be mentioned that 15...e5 would not win a piece, due to 16.Nd5 Nxd5 17.exd5 and Black cannot meet the positional threats of Nd4-c6 and f3-f4. After 15... Qb6, the threat of e6-e5 is real, as can be seen on the note to White's next move.


Carlsen analyses the position in the press room after the game

16.Bc4. Intending to meet 16...e5 with the powerful 17.Bxf7+! The point behind Ponomariov's last move would have been illustrated after, for example: 16.Kb1?! e5! 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.exd5 Be7 19.Nf5 Qxe3 20.Nxe3 Bd8! when Black has a good position. 16...Qc5? This move is certainly a mistake, since it adds strength to a future sacrifice on e6. If a white knight lands on that square, it will do so with the gain of tempo due to the position of the black queen. 17.Qb3! White has a clear advantage since an upcoming sacrifice on e6 is now unavoidable. 17...d5. It could be that Black's best is 17...Ra7 when the rook provides at least some protection along the second rank, though the sacrifice of any of white's minor pieces would have been very strong. 18.exd5 Bd6

19.Nfxe6 fxe6 20.dxe6 Be7 21.Qd3 0-0

22.Bb3? This move came as quite a shock to the computer-armed spectators who were kibitzing on Playchess.com. Either 22.g5! or 22.Qg6! would have been winning for White. 22...Rd8?? After 22...Bb7! Ponomariov could have kept himself in the game, though White would still enjoy the better chances. 23.g5 Nh7 24.gxh6 Qh5 25.Qe4 Qxh6+ 26.Kb1 Ra7 27.Nf5 Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Qf6 29.Rd7 Bxd7 30.exd7+ Kf8 31.Qd5

Black will get mated in three more moves. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Report by Michael von Keitz, annotations by Michael Humphreys

Standings after eight rounds


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 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Alex. Morozevich 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
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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