5th Tal Memorial: Three-way tie for first after seven rounds

11/13/2010 – Levon Aronian had seemed poised to run away with the tournament after four rounds, but despite good chances, only managed three draws afterwards. This allowed Mamedyarov to rejoin him in round six, with a little gem over Eljanov, and then in round seven, it was Wang Hao's turn to join the leaders after defeating Gelfand. With three more just behind, first prize is up for grabs! Illustrated report.

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The 5th Tal Memorial takes place from November 5th to November 14th, in Moscow, Russia. It is a nine-round round-robin event.

Time control: 40 moves in 100 minutes followed by 20 moves in 50 minutes followed by the game in 15 minutes with a 30 second increment as of move one.

Game start: 3 PM local time (5 AM Pacific daylight / 8 AM New York / 1 PM Paris) - rest day on November 9th (Mikhail Tal's birthday)

Video coverage: The Russian Federation is providing exceptional daily coverage, with full replays available at the right of the page.

Round five

Round 5: Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
A. Grischuk 
½-½
 S. Mamedyarov 
L. Aronian 
½-½
 S. Karjakin
A. Shirov 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
P.Eljanov 
1-0
 B. Gelfand
V. Kramnik 
½-½
 Wang Hao

In the fifth round, the key games were Aronian's game against Karjakin, and Eljanov versus Gelfand. Aronian improved upon the play in Nakamura-Karjakin played in WIjk aan Zee earlier that year and a mistep by the Russian left black with a difficult position that eventually led to an even worse endgame. All the right elements seemed in place for the Armenian to increase his tournament lead, but the path he chose clearly wasn't the best. Whether or not it could have been won is up to the analysts to decide.

Aronian,L (2801) - Karjakin,Sergey (2760) [E20]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (5), 10.11.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Ne4 7.Qd3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Be7 9.Nb5. 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 d6 11.Rd1 a6 12.Nb3 Qc7 13.Bf4 e5 14.Be3 Nd7 15.Nd2 f5 16.Rab1 Rb8 17.Ba7 Ra8 18.Be3 Rb8 19.Ba7 Ra8 0-1 Nakamura,H (2708)-Karjakin,S (2720)/Wijk aan Zee 2010/CB04_2010 (48) 9...Nc6 10.Bg2 0-0 11.Bf4 e5 12.Bc1 b6. After this move, Karjakin gets a tough game in which he is playing catchup. 12...d6 was worth considering. If 13.Ba3 Qa5 14.0-0 (14.Bxd6?! Rd8 15.Bc7 Rxd3 16.Bxa5 Rd7 and Black is doing well.) 14...Be6 15.Bxd6 Rfd8 16.c5 Rd7 Threatening a6.


Kramnik glances with interest at Aronian-Karjakin in round five

13.0-0 Bb7 14.Rd1 Na5 15.Bxb7 Nxb7 16.Qxd7 Nc5 17.Qxd8 Rfxd8 18.Be3. White's queenside structure is ugly, but he is still up a pawn. 18...Rdc8 19.a4 Bf8 20.Rd5 Ne6 21.Rxe5 Rxc4 22.a5 bxa5 23.Rxa5 a6 24.Kg2 h6 25.h4 Rcc8 26.Nd4 Nc5 27.Ra2 Nb7 28.Bd2 Nd6 29.Nf5 Nc4 30.Ne7+ Bxe7 31.Rxe7 h5 32.Bc1 a5 33.Rd7 a4 34.Ba3 Nxa3 35.Rxa3 Rab8 36.Rxa4 Rxc3 37.Raa7








With both rooks pressuring the 7th, an extra pawn, intact structure, the Armenian's winning chances look extremely good. 37...Rf8 38.e4 Rcc8 39.e5 Rce8 40.f4 Rd8








Obviously a key forkroad in the endgame. 41.e6. 41.f5 was the obvious alternative. 41...Rxd7 42.Rxd7 Rb8 43.Kf3 Rb3+ 44.Ke4 Kf8 (44...Rxg3 would lose to 45.Rd8+ Kh7 46.e6 fxe6 47.fxe6 Rg1 48.Ke5 Re1+ 49.Kd6+-) 45.Rd3 and though better, White may not be able to convert. Still, it might have offered Aronian his best practical chances. 41...Rxd7 42.exd7 Rd8 43.g4 This line is probably the reason Aronian played e6, however it seems he missed that this allows his young opponent a clear drawing path. Since most of Karjakin's moves are fairly straightforward, he has no troubles now. 43...hxg4 44.f5 f6 45.Kg3 Kf7 46.Kxg4 Ke7 47.Rc7 Kf7 48.h5 Ke7 49.Kh4 Kf7 50.Rb7 Ke7 51.h6 gxh6 52.Kh5 Kf7 53.Rb6 Rxd7 54.Kxh6 Re7 55.Rb8 Rd7 56.Kh7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Eljanov, who along with Shirov had only scored a half a point in four until now, managed to scrape himself off the bottom and after leaving the opening with an advantage never let go and duly won the endgame.

Eljanov,P (2742) - Gelfand,B (2741) [D48]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (5), 10.11.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.d5 Bb7 11.0-0 Qc7 12.dxe6 fxe6 13.Bc2 c4 14.Ne2 e5 15.Ng3 Bc5 16.b3 c3 17.a3 b4 18.Ng5 Qc6 19.axb4 Bxb4 20.Ba3 Bxa3 21.Rxa3 h6 22.Nf3 0-0 23.b4 Qc7 24.Qb1 Rac8 25.Ne2 Kh8 26.Rxc3 Qb6 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Bd3 Nh5 29.Nd2 Qf6 30.Qb2 Nf4 31.Nxf4 exf4 32.Qxf6 gxf6 33.Nf3 Ne5 34.Nxe5 fxe5 35.f3 Rc3 36.Be2 Rb3








It might seem as if White loses the pawn now, but things are not quite that simple. 37.b5! Rb2. 37...axb5 38.Rc1 Rb2 39.Bf1 Kg8 40.h4 Kf8 41.Rc7 and Black's very restricted bishop combined with White's rook penetration is deadly. 38.bxa6 Rxe2 39.axb7 Rb2 40.Rd1 Rxb7 41.g3! fxg3 42.hxg3 Kg7 43.Rd5 Re7 44.Kf2 Kf6 45.Rd6+ Kg7 46.Ke3 Ra7 47.f4 Ra3+ 48.Rd3 Ra5 49.Kf3. 49.f5! was stronger. 49...Kf6. 49...h5 The point is that after 50.Rd7+ (50.f5 Ra6 51.Rd5 Kf6) 50...Kf6 51.Rd6+ Ke7 52.Rh6 Ra3+ 53.Kg2 exf4 54.gxf4 Ra4 55.Kf3 Ra3+ 56.Ke2 Ra4 50.Rd6+ Kg7 51.Re6 Ra3+ 52.Kg4 h5+ 53.Kxh5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Round six

Round 6: Thursday, November 11th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
1-0
 P. Eljanov
S. Karjakin 
½-½
 A. Grischuk
A. Shirov 
½-½
 L. Aronian
B. Gelfand 
½-½
 V. Kramnik
H. Nakamura 
½-½
 Wang Hao

The sixth round brought about a couple of extremely theoretical battles that eventually snuffed out into draws. Karjakin and Grischuk played a sharp Najdorf in which they literally played 29 moves of known theory before finally deviating with something original. Ten moves later they shook hands.


Grandmasters at work

Shirov and Aronian continued their personal debate of the Ruy Lopez Marshall, a pet defense of the Armenian (23 games at Super GM level), but it soon dwindled down to a draw by repetition. The most interesting game of the round was Mamedyarov's lovely endgame win over Eljanov, in a position which at first sight seemed to be destined for a draw. However, appearances were deceiving and the Azerbaidjani demonstrated with extremed prejudice just how difficult Black's defensive task was, and won in style.

Mamedyarov,S (2763) - Eljanov,P (2742) [D11]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (6), 11.11.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.0-0 Be7 9.e3 0-0 10.Rd1 e5N 11.Nc3 Qc7 12.h3 Bg6 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.e4 Qe6 16.Qxe6 fxe6 17.Be3 Rfd8 18.Rxd8+ Bxd8 19.Rd1 Ba5 20.f3 e5 21.Na4 Bf7 22.Nc5 b6 23.Na6 c5 24.Bf1 Rc8 25.h4 Be6 26.b3 Bc3 27.Rd6 Bd7 28.Bg5 Rc6 29.Bc4+ Kf8 30.Rxc6 Bxc6 31.Nc7 h6 32.Bc1 Ke7 33.Kg2 Bd4








It seems incredible at first view, but Mamedyarov is now going to take this endgame and ram it down his opponent's throat. A curious aspect appears to be that Black's 'bad' d4 bishop, which is usually a strong piece if on an outpost outside its chain, is in fact biting dust here, and the very pawns that cement it in the center, c5 and e5, are preventing it from helping defend the kingside. 34.a4 a5 35.g4 Kd7 36.Ne6 Ne8 37.h5! Kd6 38.g5 hxg5








White was also winning after the simple Bxg5, however one can't fault the Azerbaidjani for his sense of aesthetics! 39.Nxg7! Nxg7 40.h6 The knight is helpless against the passed h-pawn and bishops. 40...Nh5 41.h7 Nf4+ 42.Kg3 Ng6 43.Kg4 Be8 44.Bxg5 Nh8 45.Bf6 Ng6 46.Kf5 Be3 47.h8Q Nxh8 48.Bxe5+ Ke7 49.Bf6+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Round seven

Round 7: Friday, November 12th, 2010
V. Kramnik 
½-½
 S. Mamedyarov 
P. Eljanov 
½-½
 S. Karjakin
A. Grischuk 
½-½
 A. Shirov
L. Aronian 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
Wang Hao 
1-0
 B. Gelfand

By the first break, and four rounds, Aronian had seemed poised to run away with the tournament, with a perfect mixture of good luck (against Kramnik)) and excellent play (against Gelfand), but with three successive draws thereafter, he was caught up by not one, but two players, who now share first place with him with 4.5/7. Mamedyarov's win in round six had allowed him to catch up with the leader, but in round seven, the unlikely hero was Wang Hao, who has played very solidly, and now converted a good endgame against Gelfand. Three more follow just half a point behind, Grischuk, Karjakin and Nakamura, so the top prize is very much up for grabs.


Wang Hao, intrepid hero, and co-leader after round seven.

Still, the most exciting game of the round was Kramnik against Mamedyarov, and it was the Russian who injected a heavy dose of excitement into an endgame that had all the hallmarks of a stale outcome. In the end, it still ended in a draw, but there was nothing boring about it.

Kramnik,V (2791) - Mamedyarov,S (2763) [D85]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (7), 12.11.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Be3 c5 8.Rc1 Qa5 9.Qd2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qxd2+ 11.Bxd2 0-0 12.Nf3 e6 13.Bb5 Nc6 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.0-0 Ba6 16.Rfe1 Bb5 17.Bb4 Rfd8 18.Bc5 a5 19.h4 a4 20.Rc3 f6 21.e5 fxe5 22.Nxe5 Rd5 23.f4 Bxe5 24.fxe5 Rd7 25.a3 Rf7 26.Kh2 Rb8 27.Kg3 Rbb7 28.Bd6 h5 29.Rb1 Kh7 30.Rc5 g5








Leave it to Kramnik to throw a spanner into the calm machinery of what looked like a fairly static endgame. Mamedyarov doesn't panic though and maintains the balance, albeit an *extremely* dynamic balance. 31.d5! gxh4+ 32.Kh2 exd5 33.e6 Rg7 34.Re1 Rg8! 35.Rc3 Rbg7








36.Rf3! Who's afraid of the big bad check? 36...Rxg2+ 37.Kh3 c5 38.Rf7+ R2g7 39.Bxc5 Be8 40.Ref1 d4 41.Kxh4 d3 42.R1f5 d2 43.Rxh5+ Kg6 44.Rg5+ Kh7 45.Rh5+ Kg6 46.Rf1 Rh7 47.Rg1+ Kf6 48.Rf1+ Kg6 49.Rg1+ Kf6 50.Rf1+ Kg6 51.Rg1+ 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


The tournament has had a full audience every single day


On Saturday, despite being a work day, there was barely even standing room


Young fans have also joined, enjoying the live GM commentary via headphones


Elmira Mirzoeva with ex-elite French GM Joel Lautier

Pictures by Anna Burtasova (Russian Chess Federation)

Standings and Crosstable

Watching the games from Moscow

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We would also suggest you see the exceptional live video coverage at the site, that can be replayed from links on the right side. The numbers represent the date of the coverage.

Schedule and results

Round 1: Friday, November 5th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
S. Karjakin 
1-0
 B. Gelfand
A. Shirov 
0-1
 Wang Hao 
L. Aronian 
1-0
 V. Kramnik 
A. Grischuk 
1-0
 P. Eljanov
Round 2: Saturday, November 6th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
½-½
 S. Karjakin
B. Gelfand 
1-0
 A. Shirov
Wang Hao 
½-½  L. Aronian
V. Kramnik 
½-½
 A. Grischuk
 H. Nakamura 
1-0
 P. Eljanov
Round 3: Sunday, November 7th, 2009
A. Shirov 
0-1
 S. Mamedyarov 
S. Karjakin 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
L. Aronian 
1-0
 B. Gelfand
A. Grischuk 
½-½
 Wang Hao
P. Eljanov 
0-1
 V. Kramnik
Round 4: Monday, November 8th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
½-½
 L. Aronian
S. Karjakin 
½-½
 A. Shirov
B. Gelfand 
½-½
 A. Grischuk
Wang Hao 
½-½
 P. Eljanov
H. Nakamura 
½-½
 V. Kramnik
Round 5: Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
A. Grischuk 
½-½
 S. Mamedyarov 
L. Aronian 
½-½
 S. Karjakin
A. Shirov 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
P.Eljanov 
1-0
 B. Gelfand
V. Kramnik 
½-½
 Wang Hao
Round 6: Thursday, November 11th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
1-0
 P. Eljanov
S. Karjakin 
½-½
 A. Grischuk
A. Shirov 
½-½
 L. Aronian
B. Gelfand 
½-½
 V. Kramnik
H. Nakamura 
½-½
 Wang Hao
Round 7: Friday, November 12th, 2010
V. Kramnik 
½-½
 S. Mamedyarov 
P. Eljanov 
½-½
 S. Karjakin
A. Grischuk 
½-½
 A. Shirov
L. Aronian 
½-½
 H. Nakamura
Wang Hao 
1-0
 B. Gelfand
Round 8: Saturday, November 13th, 2010
S. Mamedyarov 
   Wang Hao
S. Karjakin 
   V. Kramnik
A. Shirov 
   P. Eljanov
L. Aronian 
   A. Grischuk
H. Nakamura 
   B. Gelfand
Games – Report
Round 9: Sunday, November 14th, 2010
B. Gelfand 
 
 S. Mamedyarov 
Wang Hao 
   S. Karjakin
V. Kramnik 
   A. Shirov
P. Eljanov 
   L. Aronian
A. Grischuk 
   H. Nakamura
Games – Report

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