Tal Memorial 2018: Anand joins Mamedyarov at the top

by Sagar Shah
3/4/2018 – We are heading towards an exciting final day at the Tal Memorial 2018. Vishy Anand won his sixth round game against Hikaru Nakamura and came back to the lead along with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 4.0/6. Two players: Kramnik and Grischuk follow them on 3.5/6. In this report, you can find a wealth of instructive content including videos, analysis, interviews and much more. We also discuss the question of whether chess in museums is a good idea or not? Report from Moscow by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal.

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Running time: 5 hours


Intro: Tal Memorial 2018 consists of two standalone events - nine rounds of rapid and thirteen rounds of blitz. Nine players participate in both the events. They are Anand, Nakamura, Mamedyarov, Gelfand, Kramnik, Karjakin, Grischuk, Nepomniachtchi and Svidler. For the rapid, the qualifier is Daniil Dubov, while four spots for the blitz section are yet to be decided. Rapid games are played with a time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment, while blitz will be 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment. 2nd-4th March will have 3 rounds of rapid on each day, while on 5th you have 13 rounds of blitz. The total prize fund is US$ 1,50,000. 

Chess in Museums — A good idea or not?

A small trip through the entire playing arena

Chess in Museums is the brainchild of RCF President Andrey Filatov and the Timchenko family. It began with the 2012 World Championship between Anand and Gelfand when the match was held at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The Tal Memorial 2018 is being held in Russian Museum of Impressionism and 3rd of March being a weekend, a lot of people visited the playing hall.

A jam-packed commentary room! An energetic commentator like Shipov deserves such an audience!

Just a wall separates the casual strollers and world-class grandmasters at the event

This picture says a lot: people who don't know about chess are taking pictures of top grandmasters, which popularizes the sport. The young boy on the left is reading a booklet of Mikhail Tal which is distributed free of cost in the museum.

Top chess players should be like celebrities and that's how they are treated at the venue!

Little kids just sitting outside the playing arena and watching the games!

The background where the rounds are being played is quite beautiful

Not all artists are chess players but all chess players are artists!

Two World Champions get inspired by the paintings!

There is definitely some disturbance for the players as you can see Kramnik and Gelfand both with ear plugs in their fourth round duel

Kramnik speaking to ChessBase at the end of day two said, "It's quite nice to play at the Museum. Yes, there is some noise and disturbance, but I would always prefer a lot of people and some noise, to no spectators and absolute quiet!" Kramnik's quote just about sums up what the players feel about Chess in Museums. It is excellent for the popularity of the sport and something which other chess federations should think about.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is joined by Vishy Anand at the top

Video summary of rounds 1-3 on day one of Tal Memorial 2018


Standings table after six rounds of rapid chess

After the fireworks on day one, things slowed down on day two. There were only three decisive games (out of 15) but plenty of action. In the fourth round, Kramnik in his bid to play highly ambitious chess landed in a strategically lost position.


Gelfand knew that this was a sign of desperation. He took the pawn and and then consolidated his position. Kramnik seeing that he had nothing sacrificed a piece:


It seemed as if Kramnik could resign the game, but instead he kept playing on. Gelfand somehow was not able to finish off his opponent. It came as a huge surprise to everyone when Boris didn't exchange the queens:


Perhaps Gelfand was afraid of the e-pawn rolling down the board, but it was nothing. Black would have won the game. Instead, after what happened in the game, Kramnik saved himself.

Deputy Russian Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich watches the post-game analysis session with quite some interest!

Soon Alexander Grischuk and chief arbiter IM Anatoly Bykhovsky join in

Svidler could not be kept out of this for too long!

And the five-time World Champion doesn't want to be left out!

Video of how Boris won a piece but was unable to convert his advantage into a full point

Although Boris Gelfand had a tough round against Kramnik, he recovered. And this is the sign of a great player. They recover after disasters. He was able to play a beautiful game to beat Dubov.


Boris played the middlegame very well and slowly but steadily increased his advantage. The position which I found really instructive was the following one:


Gelfand knew that he was clearly better. So instead of doing something concrete, he first improved his king position with g3 and then with Kg2. This was a highly instructive manoeuvre, because often when we are better we try to rush the issue. Here, Boris showed great control and improved his position. With the king on g2, tactics in all the lines started to favour White and he won a very nice game.


Dubov's problems didn't end at this point as he lost to Kramnik in the next round. As we found out later, Daniil is not in his best health. He is suffering from flu.


Kramnik after the game said that he was going to play Rc2 to Na2. While this is a possible move, Black has a very nice defence there. Also instead of Rc2, he has a much more powerful move. Check in the notes of the game below:


Interview with Vladimir Kramnik in freezing cold! We speak to Vladimir about his Tal Memorial tournament, the influence of Tal on his chess and also about the Candidates! Did you know when was the first Candidates the Kramnik played?

Another interesting endgame was reached between Anand and Svidler. Svidler was a pawn up and should have really pressed hard. But Vishy escaped unscathed. 

Vishy Anand was a pawn down but drew this position without any difficulties. Something to learn from.

The big win for Anand came in the sixth round when he beat Hikaru Nakamura. The American has been a tough opponent for Vishy and hence this win would have been all the more sweet. The opposite coloured bishop endgame that was reached was very interesting. Here are three positions for you to think over and try to find the answers. The solutions are given in the annotated game below:


Final moments of Vishy Anand's win over Hikaru Nakamura


Interview with Vishy Anand after day two

Peter Svidler's bishops unable to trump Karjakin's rook

Can you guess who is the player who comes with two coffees to the game?

Sergey Shipov's commentary has some elite guests: GM Vladimir Potkin, RCF President Andrey Filatov and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

The breakfast at the Sheraton Hotel is simply outstanding!

Unbelievable spread!

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.


Replay all the games from round one to six:


Dvoretskys at the Tal Memorial 2018 

It's been nearly a year and a half since one of the greatest trainers and authors Mark Dvoretsky passed away. ChessBase had published a three-part interview with him entitled "Mark Dvoretsky's final interview". Amruta and I had travelled to his home in Moscow and had spent quality time with him. Today we were very happy to see Inna (Mark's wife) and Leonid (son) who had come to the playing venue. 

Inna and Leonid, Mark Dvoretsky's wife and son were present at the venue and we ask them about the future plans of work that was done by Mark and was unpublished

Ernesto Inarkiev, one of Dvoretsky's top student talks about Mark's contribution to his chess career

If you have missed Mark Dvoretsky's interviews on ChessBase, you can read them here:  Part I, Part II, Part III


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.
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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 12:12
@ ulyssesganesh and RayLopez : I always wonder at people who say that Anand should retire ; he is still above 2750 and obtaining 2800+ performances in tournaments (as in the last Isle of Man and Tata Steel tournaments), so he is keeping an extremely high level of play, and, for the rest, why should he be obliged to retire ? If Bach and Beethoven had even only be obliged to retire at 50 (and Anand isn't even 50 for the moment), we would have missed a full load of masterpieces, including for example Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bach's Art of Fugue and many other masterpieces. If Anand had retired at 40 of 45, we would have missed several chess masterpieces by him, and I think this would really have been a pity... And I hope and think that he will continue to create great games for quite a time still !
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 3/4/2018 07:36
I doubt if Dubov had the flu; it is very contagious, I do not think that the organizers would let him into the playing hall with so many people?
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/4/2018 06:26
not stifling indian gm's aspirations .....but greatly motivating them ......dear friend, chess became popular in india only after the arrival of anand.....now it is revolution time here!!
Bach Bach 3/4/2018 04:20
Chess in museum is an EXTRAORDINNARY IDEA ! It directly transmits the idea of chess as art!
Excellent to show parents that the game of chess can bring to their children the much needed equilibrium
in life. Regarding the noise, remember that 1914 tournment in Saint Petersburg and 1925 Moscow tournment in Moscow, were played with the proximity of public and this did not at all prevented masterpieces being created. Maybe all the contrary. Anyway, if a bit of noise is felted, there are titaniun earplugs that costs 40 dollars and completelly isolate noise for the chess players.
Eclipse2008 Eclipse2008 3/4/2018 02:04
Excellent report by Sagar. Chess at museum is not good as per my view. May be ok for Rapid & blitz but not good for classical chess.
RayLopez RayLopez 3/4/2018 12:09
Vishy Anand, he just won't go away! He's like a tyrant, stifling an entire generation of Indian GMs aspirations, who cower in his shadow. Lol in some ways like Botvinnik's influence.