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Tal Memorial 2008

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Tournament begins Monday. Nine rounds, rest day is Sat. 23rd. It's in Red Square in the heart of Moscow, recently the home of an old-fashioned military parade. And those tanks aren't just for show anymore, by the way. Let's just hope all the attacking is done on the chessboard for the next few weeks. As tipped a few days ago, this year's Tal Memorial has a mighty field of ten players, a category XX with an average rating of 2745. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) - 2788, Alexander Morozevich (Russia) - 2788, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) - 2781, Shahriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) - 2742, Alexei Shirov (Spain) - 2741, Peter Leko (Hungary) - 2741, Gata Kamsky (USA) - 2723, Boris Gelfand (Israel) - 2720, Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) - 2718, Evgeny Alekseev (Russia) - 2708. The prize fund is 100,000 dollars with a first prize of 30,000. Time control is 40/2, 20/1, g/15'+30", probably my favorite. Chessdom has the pairings here. Kramnik-Shirov leads things off.

For those of you counting at home, of all the players only Leko wasn't born in the USSR. Shirov is from Tal's Latvia, which hasn't shown much on the chess scene since losing Shirov and Shabalov long ago. The veteran Edvins Kengis is still their top-ranked player. Heck, Janis Klovans, Latvian champion in 1962 and now 73, is still going strong. He's also the trivia answer to the oldest player to earn the GM title. He got it in 1997 after winning the first of his three Senior World Championships.

What was I talking about again? Ah, the Tal Memorial. The presence of Morozevich, Shirov, and Alekseev means we will have at least a few exciting games each round. We'll have to see which Ivanchuk shows up, the one from Sofia, where he destroyed the field, or the one who just turned in a mediocre effort in Sochi. Kamsky and Gelfand are also coming from that long and tough Grand Prix event so endurance might be a factor. Kramnik breezed through a similarly tough field last year. He won four and went undefeated while Shirov was the only other player to manage a plus score with +1. The only changes in the field from last year are Morozevich for Jakovenko and Ponomariov for Carlsen. Kramnik got roughed up in Dortmund last month, losing twice with his dear Petroff. Anand will be watching closely. Ponomariov hasn't played classical chess in quite a while. Two years ago he tied for first in this event with Leko and Aronian.

The rounds begin at 1500 local time, noon UK, 7am NY. The live games at the official site should appear here. I'll be on ICC Chess.FM with GMs Joel Benjamin, Nick de Firmain, Larry Christiansen, and Ronen Har-Zvi. The massive Tal Blitz Cup starts right after the Memorial finishes. Ivanchuk nipped Anand for the title in that one last year.


Wow, that's a really well-balanced field. With the possible exception of Alexeev, any of the players could win without it being a real "upset."

Good to see Pono back in action. He has such a fighting spirit, a pity he has not played much since his failed match you Kaspy. With the likes of Pono, Shirov and Moro playing I am sure we will see lots of interesting games in this tournament.

Will Anand be playing in the Tal blitz this year too?

jaideepblue, let's hope so. I also hope Aronian plays the blitz.

Who is Shabalov ?

"Larry Chubaroff: Who is Shabalov ?"

Oh, c'mon!

In the first round of the Tal Memorial the players who won their games were precisely the players rated over 2780! Nice start by the three big rating favourites Ivanchuk, Kramnik and Morozevich.

Ivanchuk hopefully will brush aside his bad 50% tournament a few days ago (where he was clear favourite) with a good performance here.

Shabalov is an American Swiss warrior of some repute. Like Shirov, he's thought of as a combinative attacking player; also like Shirov his results tend to be better against lower ranked players as a result.

This tournament is Wijk-quality. Nice to see that.

gmc, by "swiss" you probably mean Latvian-Russian, right?

Artin, I think he means that he plays (or played) in a lot of tournaments that use the Swiss system. (Those huge weekend events that seem to delight Americans.)

Knallo, Swiss systems only "delight" us because they're the only game in town.

Shabalov also knew Tal, and studied with him. I met him at the Cleveland Open in June, and he also thinks due to opening knowledge Topalov will prevail against Kamsky in their match. Heck of a nice and personable guy too, I may add!

Anand isn't playing in the blitz. Carlsen and Karpov are the special invitees.

Who is Chubaroff?

(Slightly off-topic but Kamsky's name reminded me) What happened to Topa-Kamsky match? Any updates?

I used to be a huge fan of Shirov but now I can see Kasparov's point when he called Alexie a "Chess Tourist".
Shirov plays some masterpiece complications from time to time which just entertain everybody, but the main body of his work is only entertaining for his opponents' fans who usually have good time watching him being demolished potentially by every average GM.
It's sad...

Nonsense, Alexej is clearly in poor form. Moves like Qa5 in the second round are usually a piece of cake for him. There is not a single average GM playing in Moscow.

Alexei always seems to be in poor form in high category tournaments. I must say I enjoy his games, but he's clearly the new Topalov; fodder for other players' brilliancies.

Surely it was Movsessian, Akopian, Khalifman et al whom Gazza referred to as chess tourists, wasn't it?

"So, what do we have now? Three tourists - Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu. Due to the match between the first two - one tourist will travel to the semifinal. Great trip to Las Vegas and a good reason to visit Disneyland! Unpredictable and spontaneous Judith, who is always dangerous for her opponents and sometimes for herself. Two very strong players - Adams and Khalifman, both capable of upsetting any favorite. And on top of that, two main favorites of the event - Kramnik and Shirov. The possibility of a new match between them looks now quite feasible, though on the way to the final no victories are easy in the KO championship." – Garry Kasparov (on the 1999 FIDE championship tournament)


Right you are, I forgot Nisipeanu.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 17, 2008 6:39 PM.

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