One of the strongest tournaments of the year — in honor of the eighth World Champion — began Monday
Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia has taken the early lead of the Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow after he beat Evgeny Tomashavsky, a countryman, in Round 1.
The 10-player tournament, which includes a number of the world’s top players — among them, Anish Giri of the Netherlands, Viswanathan Anand of India, and Levon Aronia of Armenia — is being held in Moscow at the Museum of Russian Impressionism. It has a prize fund of $200,000, with $45,000 for first place.
The tournament is in its tenth year and named for the eighth World Champion. It is one of the relatively limited number in honor of great former players.
The tournament started on a somber note: A minute of silence to honor Mark Dvoretsky, a great trainer and author, who died morning at age 68. I never met Dvoretsky, but I thoroughly enjoyed his writings and, in my opinion, “Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual” (Russell Enterprises, 2003; now in its fourth edition), is the best piece of chess literature ever written.
While Tal was known for wild games with lots of excitement, Round 1 did not produce a lot of drama. Three games were drawn without any fireworks or either player ever having a significant advantage. In his game against Nepomniachtchi, Tomashevsky became confused in the opening and lost quickly.
Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Evgeny Tomashevsky
Tal Memorial |Moscow |Round 1 |26 Sep 2016 |ECO: C45 |1-0
Bg7?!Tomashevsky spent some time on this move. He probably forgot what he had learned about this position, which has been played before and is reasonably well known.
( 10... d6!White has not had good results in this position lately. It would be interesting to know what Nepomniatchi had in mind if Tomashevsky had played this move. )
11. Qf2!Black is already much worse. He has to lose time moving his knight while White develops very quickly. 11... Nf612. Ba3d6?!Another bad move
( 12... Ng4The engine recommends this move. It's probably right but Black would still not have equal chances. 13. Qe2Qe614. Nc3Black's bishops are terribly positioned. )
13. Nc3!O-O14. O-O-O!Black has to move the knight, losing more time for development. In addition, d6 is coming under siege. White already has a sizable advantage. 14... Ne8
( 14... Ng415. Qf3Was not any better for Black. )
15. g3!Simple and strong. White develops his last piece. Both Black bishops are limited by White's pawn walls, Black faces multiple pins, and the knight on e8 has no good squares. All in all, it is a very sad sight for Black. 15... Bb716. Bg2f617. exd6Nxd618. c5!Nf519. Rhe1Qf720. Bf1!The final touch; Bc4 will soon follow. 20... Rfd821. Rxd8+Rxd822. Bc4Rd523. Qe2Not a good day for Tomashevsky.
If the clocks online are correct, Nepomniachtchi spent less than half an hour on the entire game. A good start for Nepomniachtchi, who also had a fantastic start in the recent Chess Oympiad.
The only really interesting game of the day — including the one between Nepomniachtchi and Tomaashevsky, which was really one-sided — was between Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik, who are also Russian. The two of them always seem to have real dogfights whenever they play, which partially explains the high number of decisive results. The game in Round 1 wound up being a draw, but it had a lot of interesting moments and Svidler had serious winning chances.
Peter Svidler vs. Vladimir Kramnik
Tal Memorial |Moscow |Round 1 |26 Sep 2016 |1/2-1/2
g5?!An ambitious move by Kramnik.
( 17... Ng6This was safer. After 18. Be3d5Black has a slight edge. )
18. Be3d5This position looks like a nightmare for White, who is uncoordinated and ill-prepared to deal with the opening of the center. But Svidler changes the character of the game with a bolt from the blue: 19. Bxg5!Let the fun begin!
( 19. cxd5?Nxd520. Nxd5Rxd5With Bc5 and g4 to come next, Black is much better. )
19... hxg520. Qxg5+Ng6White is down a piece, but... 21. Nxe6!White wins a third pawn and decimates Black's pawn cover 21... Rd6
( 21... fxe6?22. Qxg6+ )
22. Nf4This position is really difficult for Black. White has three very strong pawns for a piece, his forces coordinate beautifully, and Kramnik's king is in a terrible spot. 22... Ne423. Qg4Nxc324. Rxc3d425. Rcd3Rad8
( 25... Qc8Was a bit more resilient, but after 26. Qxc8+Rxc827. Nxg6fxg628. Rxd4I think White has close to a decisive edge, if he finds the best moves. )
26. Nd5Bf827. Rxd4White wins a fourth pawn. It looks as if the game is beyond saving for Black, but Kramnik keeps fighting. 27... Bg728. R4d2
( 28. Nf6+!?I would have been very tempted by this move. 28... Bxf629. Rxd6Rxd630. Rxd6Qe731. Rd2Qe332. Rc2Bd433. Qe4!And White should be able to win without too much trouble. )
28... b529. Qe4
( 29. Nf6+Again, this move looks strong )
29... Qb830. c5Re831. Qg4
( 31. Qxe8+!Qxe832. cxd6And White's d-pawn should be the decisive factor. )
31... Rde632. e4Qc833. Rc2Ne534. Qf5Qb735. f4Nc636. e5Nb437. Rcd2f638. Qe4Nxd539. Rxd5fxe540. f5Ra641. R1d2Black got a lot more counterplay than he deserved, but the time control has been reached and White still has a huge advantage. The pawn on e5 is firmly blockaded, White has a dangerous pawn majority on both sides, and Black's bishop does not have much scope. 41... Kh842. h4Rh643. Kf3?One mistake and everything is different. Top level chess is a brutal game.
( 43. b4A simple move like this would have preserved excellent winning chances. )
43... Rh5!White cannot prevent Rxf5+. 44. Qg4
( 44. g4Rxh4And White would have to play carefully not to have the inferior position. )
( 44. Kg2!Offering to repeat moves was probably best, while hoping to improve his position if Black were to play Rh6. But he won't: 44... Bf6!And Rg8 followed by Qg7 gives Black substantial counterplay. ... )
44... Rxf5+!45. Qxf5Rf8Black is now fine. Yes, his king is still exposed and he has to be concerned about White's passed pawns, but the position is roughly equal. A draw now became the natural result. 46. Qxf8+Bxf847. b4Qf7+48. Kg2e449. Re5Qf3+50. Kh2Qc351. Rdd5e352. Re8Kg753. Kh3Qe154. Rde5Qxb455. Rg5+Kf756. Rxe3Bxc557. Rf3+Ke658. Rg6+Ke759. Rg7+Ke660. Rg6+Kd761. Rg7+Be762. Re3a563. h5Kd864. Rg8+Kd765. Rg7Kd866. Rg8+
Hopefully Round 2 on Tuesday will be a bit livelier.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 5 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
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Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
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After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players