Tal Memorial 07: Ivanchuk beats Morozevich, takes lead

8/25/2008 – What a round: four out of five games decided, the only draw a cliff-hanger. Ponomariov beat Shirov, Leko beat Kamsky (with black!), Alekseev beat Mamedyarov. A heart-stopping victory by Vassily Ivanchuk over player-on-fire Alexander Morozevich pushed the latter down from number one in the world on the Live List to number two behind Vishy Anand. High drama in Moscow.

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Tal Memorial in Moscow

The Tal Memorial is taking place from August 17th to 31st 2008 in the Exhibition Hall of GUM mall, located directly on the Red Square. The players are former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, who won the tournament last year, Alexander Morozevich, currently the world's second highest ranked player, Vassily Ivanchuk, ranked fourth, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (8th), Alexei Shirov (9th), Peter Leko (10th), Gata Kamsky (17th), Boris Gelfand, (18th), Ruslan Ponomariov (19th), and Evgeny Alekseev (26th).

Time controls are two hours for the first 40 moves, one hour for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move after move 61. There is a blitz tournament on August 29th-30th, with a qualifier two days earlier. Magnus Carlsen and Antoly Karpov are seeded invitees.

Round seven report

Round 7: Monday, August 25, 2008
Ruslan Ponomariov 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Alex. Morozevich
Gata Kamsky 
0-1
 Peter Leko
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Evgeny Alekseev 
1-0
 Shak. Mamedyarov

Games of the day

Ivanchuk,V (2781) - Morozevich,A (2788) [D87]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (7), 25.08.2008
1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be3 Na5 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Bd3 b6 13.Rb1 e5 14.dxc5 Ba4 15.Qd2 Qd7 16.cxb6 axb6 17.Nc1 Rfc8 18.Rxb6 Bf8 19.Ra6 Qb7 20.Rxa8 Qxa8 21.Nb3 Nxb3 22.axb3 Bxb3 23.Rb1 Qa3 24.h3 Be6 25.Rc1 Rd8 26.Qc2 Bb3 27.Qb1 Ba2 28.Qb5 Rc8 29.Qxe5 Bc5 30.Bxc5 Rxc5 31.Qb8+ Kg7 32.Qf4 Qb2 33.Qe3 f6

Now comes an interesting bit: 34.Bf1 Qxc1 35.Qxc5 says the official tournament bulletin, and these were the moves that were relayed on the chess servers. But, as some spectators and many chess engines asked themselves in great puzzlement: instead of taking the rook why didn't Ivanchuk simply take the queen, which was blatantly en prise on c1? We are mystified and can offer two possible explanations: (1) take a look at GM Robert Fontaine's video below of the critical period before the first time control. Both players were bashing out moves at a frantic rate. Perhaps this was just an oversight. On the other hand these world-class GMs are hard-wired to see elementary tactics in milliseconds – have you seen the level of their one-minute bullet chess? So we are left with a second option, proposed by Astolfo Corrêa of São Paulo, Brazil: (2) "the movies 34 and 35 wrong – change the order to 34.Qxc5 Qxc1 35 Bf1 and it all makes sense." Right, we would immediately accept the second explanation in the good old days when people typed in moves from scoresheets and sent them out to the chess community. But these days everybody is using sensor boards and the moves are going out automatically, read by inductive receivers in each square and relayed electronically by computer software to the live broadcast boards.

So: basically it must have been (1) that occurred; although there is one possibility that speaks for (2). Perhaps the sensor board lost track of the game in the extreme zeitnot phase and somebody entered some moves manually (and incorrectly). We will try to find out what actually transpired, but until then please accept these two possible explanations.

[Addendum: Bob Fontaine in Moscow tells us that 34.Qxc5 Qxc1+ 35.Bf1 was actually played.]

The game continued in the direst of time trouble – 20 seconds left for ten moves, that is heart-stopping. You can watch it all in the first 30-second segment of the Europe Echecs video below: "Tal Memorial (R7)".

35...Qe1 36.Qd4 g5 37.c4 Qc1 38.c5 Be6 39.f3 h5 40.Kf2 h4just made the time control! Ivanchuk can hardly believe he made it without blowing the win.

Now comes the technical part: Ivanchuk is two pawns up in the queen and bishop ending. These things can go astray and if one does not come up with a constructive plan the weaker side might still hold the draw.

41.Qe3 Qc2+ 42.Kg1 Bc4 43.Bxc4 Qxc4 44.Kh2 Kf7 45.Qa3 Ke6 46.Qa7 Qc1 47.Qb6+ Kf7 48.Qd6

Morozevich decides to exchange queens and pick up the c-pawn. 48...Qf4+ 49.Qxf4 gxf4 50.Kg1 Ke6 51.Kf2 Kd7 52.Ke2 Kc6.

Okay, how do you play this again? On the Playchess server a number of spectators were enamoured with the move 53.e5, which they thought was the only way to win. But one very strong player showed us why it doesn't work: 53...fxe5 54.Kd3 Kd5 55.c6 Kxc6 56.Ke4 Kd6 57.Kf5 Kd5 58.Kg5 Kd4 59.Kxh4 Ke3 60.Kg5 Kf2 61.h4 Kxg2 62.h5 Kxf3 (62...e4?? trivially allows mate in 68) 63.h6 Kg2 "and White has no check after queening, so draw." All of this in real time, without the use of a chess engine. Garry Kasparov also told us how Ivanchuk had to proceed, which his old buddy obediently did.

53.Kd3 Kxc5 54.Kc3! Kd6 55.Kd4 Ke6 56.Kc4 Kd6 57.Kb5 Ke6 58.Kc6 Ke5 59.Kd7 f5 60.exf5 1-0. A mind-boggling, nerve-racking encounter which will have both players trembling in their showers for days to come.


We turn to Gelfand-Kramnik, the only draw in round seven – but what a draw!

Gelfand,B (2720) - Kramnik,V (2788) [D45]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (7), 25.08.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.b3 0-0 8.Be2 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Bb2 Qe7 11.Rfd1 Rac8 12.Rac1 Rfd8 13.Qb1 a6 14.Bf1 h6 15.g3 Bb8 16.Bg2 b5 17.e4 dxc4 18.e5 Ne8 19.bxc4 c5 20.cxb5 Bxf3 21.Bxf3 cxd4 22.Ne2 Nxe5 23.Bg2 d3 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Nf4 axb5 26.Nxd3 Nc4 27.Ba1 Ned6 28.Nb4 Qe8 29.Qd3 Ba7 30.Qe2 Nf5 31.Qf3 Bb6 32.Nc6

Kramnik has outplayed his experienced opponent and is a full pawn up. Now the former World Champion decides to go for a spectacular win: 32...Nce3!? Piece sacrifices like this can have the spectators showering the board with gold coins – if they work out properly. This one doesn't. 33.fxe3 Nxe3 34.Bd4 Bxd4 35.Rxd4 Nxg2 36.Nb4 Ne1

37.Qe2! We can only speculate (but with expert advice): Kramnik may not have seen this move when he played 32...Nce3 – even Fritz doesn't see it for quite some time at move 32. Perhaps he expected 37.Qd1 Rc1! 38.Qxc1 Nf3+ 39.Kf2 Nxd4 or 38.Rd8 Rxd1 39.Rxe8+ Kh7, in either case with a nice win. 37...Rc1 38.Rd1 Qc8. Maybe this was included in Kramnik's search tree at move 32, and now he thought that White would play 39.Qxe1 Rxd1 40.Qxd1 after which Black wins with 40...Qc5+ 41.Kf1 Qxb4. Unfortunately White has a spoiler: 39.Rxe1 and now Black will have to struggle to hold the draw. 39...Qc5+ 40.Kh1 Rc4 41.Nd3 Qc6+ 42.Qg2 Qxg2+ 43.Kxg2 Rc2+ 44.Nf2 Rxa2 45.Rb1 f5 46.Rxb5 Kf7 47.h4 draw. Many felt that White should play on, but Gelfand decided there were too few pawns on the board to justify an extensive winning attempt. And also: no gold coins today for Kramnik, who may have had the game he played against Deep Fritz in October 2002 in Bahrain flash through his mind. There, too, he undertook a daring knight sacrifice that could have produced "the best game I have ever played in my life" – if it had only worked.


The other games

  • Ruslan Ponomariov vs Alexei Shirov: a Sicilian Rossolimo in which Black found his king stuck in the center and lost two pawns and then the game to a very convincing attacking effort by the former FIDE world champion.

  • Evgeny Alekseev vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was a French Rubinstein that went sour for the Azeri GM when Alekseev used his queen and bishops to take over the queenside, picked up a pawn in the rook and bishop vs rook and knight endgame. Mamedyarov resigned two moves before the time control.

  • Gata Kamsky vs Peter Leko: the American GM tried a kind of Trompovsky against Peter Leko, playing Bg5, e3, c3, probably thinking, as Leko speculated, that after his two painful defeats in the previous rounds "Gata thought he would just have to move his pieces and he would automatically win." But, Peter said, he was in no mood to "give any more presents unnecessarily." He finished Kamsky off very efficiently in 48 moves.

Current standings

For 24 hours Alexander Morozevich was number one in the world on the Live Rating list, which calculates the ratings for all players above 2700 on a daily basis. He was 0.9 points ahead of Vishy Anand, who is followed by Magnus Carlsen in place three and Vassily Ivanchuk in place four. After his loss to Ivanchuk Morozevich dropped back to number two, 4.2 points behind Anand. Sic transit gloria Caïssae. Ivanchuk has advanced to the number two slot, 4.5 points behind Morozevich, while Magnus Carlsen is now on number four, 2.2 points behind Ivanchuk.


President challenges Chess Champion

VIP game: Vladimir Kramnik vs Alexander Zhukov

At the end of the famous Tal Memorial – on the 31st of August 2008 at 15:00h – a very interesting chess charity event will take place. Russian Vice-Premier and President of the Russian Chess Federation, Alexander Zhukov, will play a rapid chess match against the 14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik. The match will take place very near the Red Square in the highly prestigious exhibition hall of the biggest Moscow shop GUM.

In order to equalize the chances Kramnik will play blindfold, while Zhukov will be allowed to consult a computer every three moves. After the game the Champion will play blindfold blitz or blitz games with a handicap of two minutes versus seven against sponsors or their representatives.

The sponsorship of the event should lead to the establishment of grants for people representing the ancient and future glory of Russian chess. One of the ideas of the event is to remind to people who played chess before and succeeded in the life that maybe chess helped them to develop their personality, and the moment has come for them to help chess. Russian TV NTV+ Sport will produce a special report about this match.


Europe Echecs videos reports

These reports are provided by Europe Echecs.com, which is doing extensive coverage of the Tal Memorial Tournament

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, August 18, 2008
Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Alex. Morozevich 
1-0
 Evgeny Alekseev
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Gata Kamsky
Round 2: Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 Alexei Shirov 
0-1
 Gata Kamsky
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Evgeny Alekseev 
½-½
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Shak. Mamedyarov 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Round 3: Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Peter Leko 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Alex. Morozevich 
1-0
 Vladimir Kramnik
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Evgeny Alekseev
Gata Kamsky 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Round 4: Thursday, August 21, 2008
Alexei Shirov 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Evgeny Alekseev 
½-½
 Gata Kamsky
Shak. Mamedyarov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Alex. Morozevich
Round 5: Friday, August 22, 2008
Alex. Morozevich 
½-½
 Alexei Shirov
Ruslan Ponomariov 
1-0
 Peter Leko
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Gata Kamsky 
0-1
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Evgeny Alekseev
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Free day
Round 6: Sunday, August 24, 2008
Alexei Shirov 
½-½
 Evgeny Alekseev
Shak. Mamedyarov 
0-1
 Boris Gelfand
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Gata Kamsky
Peter Leko 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Alex. Morozevich 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Round 7: Monday, August 25, 2008
Ruslan Ponomariov 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Alex. Morozevich
Gata Kamsky 
0-1
 Peter Leko
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik
Evgeny Alekseev 
1-0
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Round 8: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Alexei Shirov 
-
 Shak. Mamedyarov
Vladimir Kramnik 
-
 Evgeny Alekseev
Peter Leko 
-
 Boris Gelfand
Alex. Morozevich 
-
 Gata Kamsky
Ruslan Ponomariov 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Games – Report
Round 9: Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Alexei Shirov
Gata Kamsky 
-
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Boris Gelfand 
-
 Alex. Morozevich
Evgeny Alekseev 
-
 Peter Leko
Shak. Mamedyarov 
-
 Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.



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