Four Candidates feature at the Tal Memorial 2018 that begins today

by Sagar Shah
3/2/2018 – The Tal Memorial 2018 begins on the 2nd of March 2018. It consists of two events - nine rounds of rapid and thirteen rounds of blitz. The Candidates tournament is about to begin in a week, yet four of them are playing here: Kramnik, Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Grischuk. Competing with them are Anand, Gelfand, Nakamura, Svidler, Nepomniachtchi and Dubov. It is going to be a wonderful event and we have Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal present at the venue to bring you high-quality coverage. In this first report apart from the opening ceremony we bring you a very interesting experiment that was conducted with the players using Tal's famous games.

Master Class Vol.2: Mihail Tal Master Class Vol.2: Mihail Tal

On this DVD Dorian Rogozenco, Mihail Marin, Oliver Reeh and Karsten Müller present the 8. World Chess Champion in video lessons: his openings, his understanding of chess strategy, his artful endgame play, and finally his immortal combinations.


As I got out from the Sheremetyevo airport at 5.30 a.m, cold wind gushed towards me. This was the first time I was experiencing -18° C temperature. The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) official had come to pick us up at the airport and was leading us towards the car, but I could hardly keep up my pace with him. My hands and fingers had started to get numb, my eyes had begun to water, and the air had penetrated through my defences. I just wanted this to end. I ran as hard as I could and somehow made it inside the car. I knew it was going to be cold, but I hadn't anticipated it to be so bad. As the car started to move towards the Sheraton hotel I remembered the reason why I was in Moscow - the Tal Memorial 2018 held in the memory of the great Mikhail Tal.

The view from the Sheraton Hotel where all the players of the Tal Memorial 2018 have been hosted | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wasn't Tal like the Russian cold that hit me a few minutes ago. Tal's attacks, ideas and moves were so brilliant and violent that his helpless opponents tried hard to fight against it, but in vain. After a point, all that Tal's opponents wanted to do was get over with it. The eighth World Champion has often been dubbed as the most brilliant player to have ever played the sport. Tal's attacks have been the most original that chess has ever seen and even the most well-known attackers bow down to his mastery. It is indeed quite apt that some of the best minds in the chess world have gathered in Moscow to play at the Tal Memorial 2018.

Anand versus the Russians? | Photo: Amruta Mokal 

This year we have three days of rapid chess followed by one day of blitz. That's nine rounds of rapid (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment) and 13 rounds of blitz (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment). For the rapid tournament we have the following participants:

Russian players - Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov (qualifier)

International players - Viswanathan Anand, Boris Gelfand, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura.

The four players for the blitz event are yet to be named.

The drawing of colours was done in a unique way. Each player had to come and pick up a card, which had a number imprinted on it. | Photo: Amruta Mokal  

The drawing of lots ceremony

The 11th edition of the Tal Memorial will be played in the Museum of Russian Impressionism (Moscow), one of the leading private museums in Russia. The tournament is a part of the international programme implemented by Russian Chess Federation (RCF) together with the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko since 2012. It all started with the match of Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand and the programme Chess in Museums has been going strong since then.

The founder of the Museum of the Russian Impressionism - Boris Mints. Boris is a philanthropist and also the chairman of the investment company O1 group | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik and Anand give Karjakin some advice on how to pass the final hurdle to become a World Champion! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishy Anand speaks about winning World Rapid 2017 has given him confidence, but you have to start from zero in each and every tournament!

A highly interesting 2-game blitz mini-match took place on the 1st of March 2018 at the Aeroflot Blitz 2018 between Praggnanandhaa and Sergey Karjakin. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Praggnanandhaa has been associated with Sergey Karjakin for over a year now. Ever since Pragg became the youngest IM in the world at the age of 10 years and 10 months, everyone's eyes were on him as to whether he could break Karjakin's world record of youngest GM at the age of 12 years and 7 months. It seemed pretty doable as Pragg achieved his maiden GM norm and also surpassed 2500 Elo mark. However, the last two norms were hard to come by. With just one week to go (On 8th of March Pragg will turn 12 years and 7 months old) Pragg will not be able to beat Karjakin's record, but the two were paired against each other in the Aeroflot Blitz. It was two games of 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment.


In the first game Pragg was better and he pushed very hard. Karjakin tried to repeat the position, but Pragg turned it down and played for a win. Just when the win was very close, the little boy blundered and the game ended in a draw. In game two when Karjakin got the white pieces, he played carefully and without too many difficulties won the mini-match with a score of 1.5-0.5. Niklesh Jain, who was present at the venue, has captured the entire video footage for ChessBase India:

Later in the day when we caught up with Sergey Karjakin at the opening ceremony of the Tal Memorial 2018, we asked him about the two games with Pragg and also what does retaining the world record of the youngest GM in the world mean to him:

"Praggnanandhaa is a great talent and has a very bright future ahead of him" - Sergey Karjakin

Marina and Sergey Makarychev. Did you know Sergey was the second of Kasparov and Karpov at different points in their career! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"What was I to do, I had to beat them!" Ian Nepomniachtchi came to the opening ceremony after winning the Aeroflot Blitz. He beat some extremely strong blitz players - Rauf Mamedov (2.0/2), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2.0/2) and Sergey Karjakin (1.5/2) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Agon seems to have settled for a logo with just the hands! Yana Sidorchuk of Russian Chess Federation and Mark Glukhovsky look at it with great interest! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Famous musician Yuri Bashmet performed at the opening ceremony with his band Moscow Soloists. All the concerts of Bashmet are always packed to the brim. His presence at the opening ceremony uplifted the stature of the event. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

14 minutes of some high-quality classical music

The man who is responsible for Russian chess making giant strides in the last few years - President of RCF Andrey Filatov | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Chess player and coach Alexander Zlochevsky with Ian Nepomniachtchi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishy Anand speaks to the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Arkady Dvorkovich | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The CEO of the venue of the event - Yulia Petrova | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Group of Construction Companies DON | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It's going to be great fun to follow the games of Big Vlad! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"The influence of Tal on my chess career has been pretty huge" | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Boris recalls how he played a card game with Tal and taught that same one to his daughter!

Peter Svidler was just 20 metres away from Tal once, but was not able to speak to him. Yet, Peter knows all the famous games of the 8th World Champion! 

The brilliance of Mikhail Tal

The genius named Mikhail Tal | Photo: Wikimedia

Before going to the opening ceremony, I tried to prepare for a small experiment. I found out 11 positions from Tal's games which had some brilliant idea. I printed those positions on sheets of paper and posed the super GMs with the question, "What did Tal play and who was his opponent?" All I can say is that these top guys know their classics! So here I present these eleven positions to you as well. Try and see if you can find the moves made by Mikhail Tal.  

Position 1:


Position 2:


Position 3:


Position 4:


Position 5:


Position 6:


Position 7:


Position 8:


Position 9:


Position 10:


Position 11:



Below is the video of one of Russia's biggest talents Daniil Dubov. He was given the same eleven positions that we have above and he solved almost each one of them with great ease. He knew not only the best moves in the position but also the names of the opponents

Learn from the Classics

Sagar Shah shows you on this DVD how you can use typical patterns used by the Master of the past in your own games. From opening play to middlegame themes.

Play through the games:


Round 1 pairings:

Mamedyarov – Kramnik,

Svidler – Nepomniachtchi,

Anand – Dubov,

Nakamura – Gelfand,

Karjakin - Grischuk

Games begin at 3 p.m. Moscow time

Who will win the Rapid event?

It is an extremely well-balanced field. Vishy Anand being the world rapid champion is surely one of the favourites. But he will face a tough time from the youngsters especially Nepomniachtchi, Karjakin and Nakamura who excel in this format. You can never discount experienced players like Kramnik, Svidler, Grischuk and Gelfand. Mamedyarov has been in great form recently and Daniil Dubov's abilities should never be underestimated. We spoke with GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko at the opening ceremony and he thinks that Hikaru Nakamura has the best chance!

Official commentator Evgenij Miroshnichenko makes his prediction for the event

It is wonderful that a tournament played in the memory of Tal will have a creative genius Alexander Morozevich as the commentator on two days (on 2nd and 4th of March). Bologan will be the commentator on 3rd and Alexandra Kosteniuk on the 5th of March.


Just in case you were wondering where Hikaru was? (He didn't come to the opening ceremony):


The day ended with some nice food served to all the people present at the opening ceremony | Photo: Amruta Mokal

There is absolutely nothing where the quality is compromised at this event! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A big thanks to Press officer of Russian Chess Federation Eteri Kublashvili for providing vital information published in this report | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register