Tal Memorial R9 – Aronian, Carlsen tie for first; Carlsen wins on tiebreak

11/25/2011 – Levon Aronian's dramatic win yesterday made serious ripples, as Vladimir Kramnik tried to cash in on what he expected to be a fragile Peter Svidler, but instead ended up losing. Magnus Carlsen once more showed his stuff when under last-minute pressure by beating Hikaru Nakamura in an opposite-colored bishops ending, snatching first on tiebreak. Final report with GM commentary.

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Sixth Tal Memorial in Moscow

This event was a ten-player round robin event, and took place from November 16th to 25th in Moscow, Russia. Time control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

Results

Round 9: Friday, November 25, 2011
Hikaru Nakamura
0-1
Magnus Carlsen
Boris Gelfand
½-½
Vishy Anand
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Ian Nepomniachtchi
½-½
Levon Aronian

Round nine report


Media frenzy at the start of round nine

In spite of a higher draw rate than many would have liked, the 6th Tal Memorial was far from dull, and was defining in more than one way. The first and foremost was the presence of four players rated 2800 or more, the only time so far that this has occurred.

The situation was also uncommon in that both Anand and Gelfand were playing, in spite of being scheduled for a World Championship match next year. Traditionally, players in such situations have avoided confrontations in tournaments for a variety of understandable reasons. Due to the tension of their particular situation, neither player was able to produce their best form, with Anand playing less ambitiously than usual, also drawing all his games, while Gelfand seemed to be experimenting with more aggressive play than is his usual cup of tea, and lost a couple as a result.


Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand pondering the black sides of their game

The two youngest Russians, Sergei Karjakin (above) and Ian Nepomniachtchi, gave a good showing of themselves and each were undefeated with a plus one score at 5.0/9.


Young Russian talent Ian Nepomniachtchi

Vassily Ivanchuk (above right with Sergey Karjakin and WIM Maria Fominykh in the press conference) had seemed poised to start another race for first as in São Paulo, but was unable to generate the same momentum he had then, though still finished on a positive note with 5.0/9.

Until round eight, Peter Svidler (above) had no doubt entertained thoughts on a possible dash for a place on the podium, since despite his modest 3.5/7, the five players ahead only edged him by a half-point with 4.0/7. A win or two on his part, and less than stellar results by the others, might end favorably, but life had other plans, and an overly cautious approach to an endgame against Aronian, allowed the latter to win brilliantly, and that was that.

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik (above) had also had a disappointing tournament, unable to couple his ambitious risk-taking with the level of precision needed to make it work, and was at 3.5/8 prior to the last round. Faced against Svidler, he may have felt this was his chance to end on 50%, bullying a fragile and vulnerable opponent, as yet unrecovered by a traumatic loss. Unfortunately for Kramnik, multiple imprecisions, in a volatile position he himself had instigated, led to his own demise, and instead it was Svidler who was allowed to end on a redeeming 50%.

Game commentary by GM Alejandro Ramirez

US GM Hikaru Nakamura (above) was no doubt the most disappointed in the event, trying hard to show the skill that brought him his win in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year, and a superb result in the Tal Memorial last year. Nothing seemed to work for him, and this inevitably had a toll on his confidence and play. A tournament he will seek to put behind him as quickly as possible.


Nakamura-Carlsen from everybody's favourite vantage point

The players of the tournament were unquestionably Levon Aronian (above) and Magnus Carlsen. Though Aronian’s brilliant win in round eight is what caught the most attention, allowing him to grab first, Carlsen’s last-round win to join him was not merely the result of good fortune.

Though the Norwegian (above analysing his game in the press conference) was unable to win as many games as he had hoped, he was party to many of the tensest and blood-curdling battles throughout the event, never saying never. They say that luck favors the champions, and as coincidences have it, the tiebreak system used favors the player who had the most blacks. As such, Magnus Carlsen once again manages to win a supertournament at the very last minute, just after his last minute sprint in Bilbao a month ago.

Round nine games

You can replay all five games of the ninth round with Let's Check evaluation profiles below the board to give you a quick overview of what transpired (click to jump to critical positions). Note that gaps in the evaluations do not mean that an advantage was suddenly lost and regained, but simply that for instance the move was executed quickly and the computers of the kibitzing public were not able to upload a reasonable evaluation into the cloud. Select from the drop-down list on the left.

You can relive the entire round, or follow the next, in high definition in this extraordinary broadcast page provided by the Russian Chess Federation. All the pictures above are screen grabs from this video.

Final standings (after nine rounds)

The 6th Tal Memorial was a category 22 event with a rating average or 2776

Statistics

Of the 45 games played in the Tal Memorial 45:

  • White won four games = 8.9%
  • Black won six games = 13.3%
  • 35 games were drawn = 77.8%

The highest scores (of the two winners) was plus two, the lowest score minus three. There was one game of less than 25 moves, and just five in under 30. The longes game was 85 moves.

Live World Rankings

The following rankings were calculated minutes after the last game had finished and represent the (inofficial) top twenty world rankings after the Tal Memorial. As you can see Anand has slipped to third place while Aronian has climbed to second by virtue of his results in the European Team Championship and this tournament. Naturally the Norwegian guy stays in first place and is now on his highest ever rating. Only the former Russian World Champion Garry Kasparov has achieved a higher rating: 2851 in January 2000. Just 22 points to go, Magnus!

# Name Rating
+/–
Games
FIDE
Age     
1 Carlsen 2829.2
+3.2
9
20 (30.11.1990)
2 Aronian 2815.3
+13.3
18
29 (06.10.1982)
3 Anand 2806.2
-4.8
9
41 (11.12.1969)
4 Kramnik 2786.8
-13.2
9
36 (25.06.1975)
5 Radjabov 2773.2
-7.8
9
24 (12.03.1987)
6 Topalov 2769.7
+1.7
9
36 (15.03.1975)
7 Karjakin 2768.7
+5.7
16
21 (12.01.1990)
8 Ivanchuk 2765.6
-9.4
16
42 (18.03.1969)
9 Morozevich 2762.9
+0.9
6
34 (18.07.1977)
10 Grischuk 2760.9
+8.9
8
28 (31.10.1983)
11 Gashimov 2750.4
-6.6
12
25 (24.07.1986)
12 Mamedyarov 2747.4
+14.4
9
26 (12.04.1985)
13 Svidler 2745.9
-9.1
20
35 (17.06.1976)
14 Nakamura 2745.5
-12.5
9
23 (09.12.1987)
15 Tomashevsky 2740.0
0.0
0
24 (01.07.1987)
16 Gelfand 2738.5
-5.5
9
43 (24.06.1968)
17 Adams 2738.4
+4.4
14
40 (17.11.1971)
18 Wang Hao 2735.5
-0.5
3
22 (04.08.1989)
19 Nepomniachtchi 2735.1
+5.1
16
21 (14.07.1990)
20 Kamsky 2732.0
0.0
0
37 (02.06.1974)

The Live Chess Ratings are maintained by IM Artiom Tsepotan and IA Dr. Christopher Wright.

Schedule and Results

Round 1: Wednesday November 16, 2011
Levon Aronian
½ ½
Magnus Carlsen
Vladimir Kramnik
0-1
Ian Nepomniachtchi  
Vassily Ivanchuk
1-0
Peter Svidler
Vishy Anand
½ ½
Sergey Karjakin
Hikaru Nakamura
½ ½
Boris Gelfand
Round 2: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Boris Gelfand
Sergey Karjakin
½ ½
Hikaru Nakamura
Peter Svidler
½ ½
Vishy Anand
Ian Nepomniachtchi
½ ½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian
½ ½
Vladimir Kramnik
Round 3: Friday, November 18, 2011
Vladimir Kramnik
½ ½
Magnus Carlsen
Vassily Ivanchuk
0-1
Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand
½ ½
Ian Nepomniachtchi
Hikaru Nakamura
0-1
Peter Svidler
Boris Gelfand
0-1
Sergey Karjakin
Round 4: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Magnus Carlsen
½ ½
Sergey Karjakin
Peter Svidler
½ ½
Boris Gelfand
Ian Nepomniachtchi
½ ½
Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian
½ ½
Vishy Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½ ½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 5: Sunday, November 20, 2011
Vassily Ivanchuk
½ ½
Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand
½ ½
Vladimir Kramnik
Hikaru Nakamura
½ ½
Levon Aronian
Boris Gelfand
½ ½
Ian Nepomniachtchi
Sergey Karjakin
½ ½
Peter Svidler
Round 6: Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Magnus Carlsen
½ ½
Peter Svidler
Ian Nepomniachtchi
½ ½
Sergey Karjakin
Levon Aronian
½ ½
Boris Gelfand
Vladimir Kramnik
½ ½
Hikaru Nakamura
Vassily Ivanchuk
½ ½
Vishy Anand
Round 7: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Vishy Anand
½ ½
Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura
0-1
Vassily Ivanchuk
Boris Gelfand
½ ½
Vladimir Kramnik
Sergey Karjakin
½ ½
Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler
½ ½
Ian Nepomniachtchi
Round 8: Thursday, November 24, 2011
Magnus Carlsen
½ ½
Ian Nepomniachtchi
Levon Aronian
1-0
Peter Svidler
Vladimir Kramnik
½ ½
Sergey Karjakin
Vassily Ivanchuk
½ ½
Boris Gelfand
Vishy Anand
½ ½
Hikaru Nakamura
Round 9: Friday, November 25, 2011
Hikaru Nakamura
0-1
Magnus Carlsen
Boris Gelfand
½-½
Vishy Anand
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Ian Nepomniachtchi
½-½
Levon Aronian

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 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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