Botvinnik Memorial Rapid Day one – Comedy of errors

9/2/2011 – Carlsen dropped both Anand and Aronian from his jaws on day one of the rapid tournament while Kramnik pleased spectators with a flamboyant piece sacrifice. Aggression in the women’s section reigned high with only two draws from nine games. Check out the incredible blunders, oversights and missed opportunities of these grandmasters. Here is the report with pictures by Anna Burtasova.

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Botvinnik Memorial 100th anniversary, Moscow, Russia

Tourney format: double round robin with over six rounds
Time control: 25 minutes + 10 seconds/move
Game start: 13:00 - 14:30 and 16:00
Tiebreak: 1st Direct game result; 2nd Number of wins; 3rd Berger scoring
Special mode: in the middle of the game the clocks will be stopped and the players will give a live commentary during the match. The opponent has to wear headphones and will listen to music while his opponent giving the comment.

Day one

The opening ceremony

Pictures by Anna Burtasova

Everything is ready in the “Digital October” center to start the great show

Before the opening ceremony there was a press conference with some of the players.

Vishy Anand commented how much he enjoys Moscow as a chess city, while Vladimir Kramnik, once a pupil of Botvinnik's famous chess school, shared his memories of the legendary player. Magnus Carlsen noted that it is very important for any generation to study the games of the past champions.

Arkady Dvorkovich, chairman of the Supervisory Board of the
Russian chess federation, gives a speech.

In his presentation he noted how symbolic it was that the memorial of the champion, who spent half of his life creating a computer chess program, is held in the Digital Center for high technology.

Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik

The spectators of the event can observe the players, listen to commentary in the
headphones and enjoy the video zoom-ins on the two screens on the both sides of
the stage. Entry is totally free.

The Russian chess federation made a special gift to 80 talented children from around
the country (all dressed in blue t-shirts) to enjoy the event, and participate in the simul
against the grandmasters.

Young and talented Triapitsyna sisters waiting for the event to start. While preparing
to become like the Kosintsevas, they brush up on their Super Mario skills.

Arkady Dvorkovich and Alexander Zhukov open the event – both of whom are members
of the Supervisory Board of Russian chess federation and high-ranked Russian politicians.

The drawing of lots. Everyone received a copy of the book “Mikhail
Botvinnik: photo chronical” with their number inside.

Elina Danielian shows her number to the chief arbiter Andrei Filippovich

World Champion Viswanathan Anand

14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

The tournament

Round one saw Levon Aronian stumble before Magnus Carlsen in the Queen’s Indian Defence. Aronian, playing white, made a gross blunder with the overoptimistic 22.f6. Carlsen’s reply 23. Qxc5 is easy to find, but the world number one threw away his windfall with 35. Rxf6 leading to a forced draw. 35….Rfg5 would have picked up the point.

Levon Aronian gets ready to sweat and suffer against Magnus Carlsen

[Event "Botvinnik Memorial"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.09.02"] [Round "2"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E32"] [WhiteElo "2823"] [BlackElo "2791"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2011.09.02"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. e3 b6 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Qc2 Ba6 10. Bxa6 Nxa6 11. e4 Ne7 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. Qc6 e5 15. Qb5 exd4 16. Qxa6 Qxe4+ 17. Kf1 Rfe8 18. Rd1 b5 (18... Qc2 $5 {might have been better to keep the queens on the board and work the initiative.}) 19. Qxb5 Rab8 20. Qd3 Rxb2 21. Qxe4 Rxe4 22. g3 c5 23. Kg2 c4 24. Nf3 d3 25. Rd2 Rb3 26. a4 g5 27. Rc1 a5 28. Rdd1 Rb2 29. Rd2 Rxd2 30. Nxd2 Re2 31. Nb1 (31. Nxc4 $2 Rc2 $1 32. Ra1 (32. Rxc2 dxc2) 32... Rxc4 $17) 31... Rc2 32. Rd1 c3 33. Kf3 d2 34. Ke4 Rc1 35. Nxc3 1/2-1/2

In the women’s section, Elina Danielian crushed Viktorija Cmilyte after the latter played the dubious 15…Nbc4 in place of 15. Nac4 in the Fianchetto Gruenfeld. Some opening confusion, perhaps? Meanwhile the world’s second highest rated woman, Koneru Humpy, opened her account with a convincing win with Black over Tatiana Kosintseva in a Ruy Lopez.

Koneru Humpy began strongly with a win against Tatiana Kosintseva

Danielian and European Champion Cmilyte start their game

The stage is set and the action begins

Things heated up in the second round when Vladimir Kramnik made a well-evaluated positional knight sacrifice on move fifteen. The ensuing complications ended in pretty draw. Kramnik could have maintained the initiative with 18….Qc2, keeping the queens on board; alas! rapid games don’t always produce the best moves!

In Aronian-Anand, Black outplayed White in a Gruenfeld middlegame without much fuss.

[Event "Botvinnik Memorial"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.09.02"] [Round "2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2807"] [BlackElo "2817"] [PlyCount "96"] [EventDate "2011.09.02"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. h3 O-O 7. Bd3 a6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. a4 Re8 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Bd2 b6 12. Qe2 Bb7 13. Rfd1 e5 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Be1 Nxf3+ 16. Qxf3 Qb8 17. Qf4 Qxf4 18. exf4 Nd7 19. a5 Nc5 20. Bf1 b5 21. f3 Nb3 22. Rab1 Nxa5 23. Bf2 Nc4 24. Bd4 Ne3 25. Rd3 Bxd4 26. Rxd4 Rac8 27. Bd3 Kg7 28. Kf2 Nc4 29. Ne2 ({Taking with} 29. Nxd5 $1 {was best.} Nd2 30. Bxb5 ( 30. Rd1 $2 {A blunder, but a pretty picture all the same.} Nb3 $19) 30... axb5 (30... Nxb1 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Ne3 {and the knight on b1 is trapped and destined to fall.}) 31. Rxd2) 29... Nd2 30. Rd1 Nb3 31. Rb4 Nc5 32. Rd4 Bc6 33. f5 a5 34. Bb1 b4 35. h4 Ba4 36. Rh1 Bb3 37. fxg6 hxg6 38. h5 Ne6 39. hxg6 {A small trap, but hardly one Anand would fall for.} fxg6 (39... Nxd4 $4 40. Rh7+ Kf6 (40... Kf8 41. Rxf7+ Kg8 42. Nxd4 $18) 41. Rxf7+ Ke5 42. f4+ Kd6 43. Nxd4 $18) 40. Rd2 (40. Rg4 $1 Bc2 41. Nd4 Bxb1 42. Rxb1 Kf6 $14) 40... Bc4 41. Rh4 Kf6 42. Rh6 Rg8 43. Nd4 Nxd4 44. Rxd4 a4 45. Rh7 a3 46. bxa3 bxa3 47. Rf4+ Ke5 48. g3 Rb8 0-1

However the other Indian, Humpy, lost her nerve against Cmilyte’s Modern Benoni. The white pieces were not enough to help her as she played the panicky 17. f4, giving up the e4 pawn for nothing. A possible alternative was 17. exf5  gxf5 18. g3 buffering White’s kingside.

Kosintseva sprang back from her first round loss to beat Danielian in the Caro Kann Advance Variation. White launched a slightly reckless pawn offensive with 12. c4 (perhaps 12. g4 f5 13. c4 was wiser) but reaped the fruits after Black squandered away the advantage with 28….Rxh2. The obvious pawn recapture 28….cxb3 would have put Tatiana in a tight spot, but as it was, she walked away with an extra rook and piece.

And the Chess Oscar for 2010 for the second time in a row goes to…

Magnus Carlsen, the leader of the rating list! The Norwegian player
noted that it was a big honor to get the award second time,
especially in a year when the World Championship match was held.

Round three saw Carlsen’s second big slip-up. Playing black versus Anand in a Ruy Lopez Berlin, he won a pawn quite early in the game but failed to convert. The game move 21….Rxf6 is much weaker than the direct Nxb2. Anand used the extra tempi to secure a draw. Vishy has played the most solid chess in the tournament so far.

On the other board, Kramnik and Aronian settled their score peaceably in a Sicilian Dragon.

The ladies once more provided some interesting drama. Koneru Humpy had an almost-certain victory snatched from her by a patient and crafty Danielian, who pounced at 51….Re3? with 52.Rxb3! sealing the draw.

[Event "Botvinnik Memorial w"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.09.02"] [Round "3"] [White "Danielian, Elina"] [Black "Koneru, Humpy"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2517"] [BlackElo "2600"] [PlyCount "131"] [EventDate "2011.09.02"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Bg3 O-O 6. Nbd2 b6 7. c3 c5 8. Bd3 Ba6 9. Bxa6 Nxa6 10. O-O Bxg3 11. hxg3 b5 12. Qe2 Qb6 13. Ne5 cxd4 14. cxd4 Rfc8 15. Rac1 Nb4 16. a3 Nc6 17. Ndf3 Na5 18. Ng5 Rf8 19. Rc5 Nc4 20. Qc2 Qb7 21. b3 Nxe5 22. dxe5 Ne4 23. Nxe4 dxe4 24. Rd1 Rac8 25. Rd6 Rxc5 26. Qxc5 Rc8 27. Qd4 h6 28. Rd7 Rc7 29. Rd8+ Kh7 30. Kh2 Qc6 31. Qd6 Qc3 32. g4 Kg6 33. Kg3 Rc5 34. Qd4 Qxd4 35. exd4 Rc3+ 36. Kf4 Rxb3 37. Kxe4 Rxa3 38. f4 b4 39. Rb8 a5 40. Rb6 Rc3 41. f5+ Kg5 42. fxe6 fxe6 43. Rb5 Kxg4 44. Rxa5 b3 45. Rb5 Kg3 46. Rb6 Kxg2 47. Rxe6 h5 48. Rb6 h4 49. e6 Kf2 50. Kf4 h3 51. e7 Re3 $4 ({Instead} 51... h2 $1 52. e8=Q Rf3+ 53. Kg5 (53. Ke5 $2 Re3+) 53... h1=Q {and White gets mated.}) 52. Rxb3 $1 {Now it is a draw.} Rxe7 (52... Rxb3 {changes nothing.} 53. e8=Q Rf3+ 54. Kg4 Rg3+ 55. Kh5 g6+ 56. Kh4 (56. Kh6 $2 h2 $19 57. Qc6 Rh3+ 58. Kg7 h1=Q $19) 56... g5+ 57. Kh5 h2 58. Qc6 Rh3+ 59. Kg4 h1=Q 60. Qc2+ Ke3 61. Qb3+ Kd2 62. Qxh3 $11) 53. Rxh3 Rf7+ 54. Ke5 g5 55. Ke6 Rf4 56. d5 g4 57. Rh2+ Kf3 58. d6 g3 59. Rh3 Kg4 60. Rxg3+ Kxg3 61. d7 Rd4 62. Ke7 Re4+ 63. Kf7 Rd4 64. Ke7 Re4+ 65. Kf7 Rd4 66. Ke7 1/2-1/2

Cmilyte, meanwhile, had smashed Kosintseva’s kingside with white pieces in a Queen’s Gambit Ragozin, and won in 33 moves.

As promised, the players have been pausing their clocks soon after the opening to offer a few quick words on their games. A reporter came to the board and would question one player while the other put on large headphones covering his or her ears.

Anand comments on his surprise that Kramnik opted for 12...d4 (see 15:23:00)

Both players would take this opportunity to study the position deeper, during which the other spoke, though carefully avoiding any visual cues that might give something away. For non-Russian speakers, there were moments where this was essentially lost on the viewer, but overall it was a fascinating glimpse into the players' minds in the heat of battle.

The live and past video coverage is available at the Russian Chess Federation.

Men's standings after three rounds

Women's standings after three rounds

Event schedule

September 2
13.00-13.40 Press conference. Magnus Carlsen is awarded the Chess Oscar for 2010
13.40-14.10 Lunch for the participants and journalists
14.15-15.00 Opening ceremony
15.00-16.15 1st round
16.30-17.45 2nd round
18.00-19.15 3rd round
19.25-20.25 Analysis of the most interesting games
September 3
15.00-16.15 4th round
16.30-17.45 5th round
18.00-19.15 6th round
19.25-20.25 Analysis of the most interesting games
20.30-21.00 Blitz doubles tournament
September 4
13.00-13.30 Opening of a memorial plaque in TSDSH Botvinnik (Gogol Boulevard, 14)
15.00-17.00 simul for Gifted Children
18.30 Evening in memory of Mikhail Botvinnik in TSDSH (Gogol Boulevard, 14)


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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