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Tal Memorial 09 R1: Battle Royal

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Wow, what a way to start the strongest tournament of the year, the Tal Memorial in Moscow. All five games finished drawn, and several of them were without a lot of action. But all were interesting and we got our money's worth and more in the game most were focused on from the start, the battle between the prince and the former king, Carlsen and Kramnik. Kramnik struck the first blow by outpreparing Carlsen (and Kasparov, by proxy) with a sharp Nimzo-Indian line Anand just used against Karpov a few days ago in Corsica. It was a notable departure stylistically for Kramnik, who also played some aggressive chess in Dortmund this year. Black takes considerable positional risks for attacking momentum, just about the opposite of Kramnik's usual solid style with black. Carlsen rose to the challenge, avoiding some early drawish lines and banking on his long-term possibilities. Kramnik might have played a little more ambitiously by keeping the queens on with 19..Qa6, a move touted by GM Kaidanov during our Chess.FM show. (Show, I meant six-hour marathon. What a way to start the event!)

But when you play complex endgames as well as Kramnik does, and nobody plays them as well as Kramnik does, "ambition" takes on a broader meaning. The concepts of "best play" and "theoretically drawn" also go out the window when Big Vlad is at the controls of a position like this. His precision is heavenly, his ability to find hidden resources demonic, and he turns the screws like a combination of Ruy Lopez and Torquemada. Again and again he found new problems to create winning chances despite the opposite-colored bishops. Even the questionable decision to bury his own rook on b3 couldn't stop Kramnik from keeping up the pressure. Carlsen fought back wonderfully, ripping open the center and sacrificing a pawn with 31.e4!? to try to gain enough counterplay to hold the balance. Or was he playing for a win, too? Of course! There were perpetual checks and center-board mate tricks all over the place for both sides. Was the h-pawn enough? It wasn't at all clear, even to Kaidanov, until Kramnik's exchange sac made it obvious only Black was playing to win and that White was going to have to find many good moves to hold the draw.

And find them Carlsen did, despite getting into time trouble in the second control as he labored to grind through the complexities. 50.Kg5 came with just a few minutes left and it was one of several few moves in a row that were essential to split the point. 51..Rc5 was actually a more forcing draw, but it's incredibly hard for a human to literally waste a tempo in such a position. Remarkably, it's close to mutual zugzwang and Black has nothing better than 51..b4 and now 52.Rc4 is a fantastical forced repetition with mate threats thanks to the white king's proximity. 52..b3 53.Kf6! Several other lines require a draw by one tempo after White gives back the exchange and ends up with a rook versus two connected passers. Kramnik had a last chance to keep the game alive with 52..Kd5 instead of going to f7 after Carlsen found the last difficult move, the check on e8. It's also worth looking at 51..Ke5, giving up the b-pawn with check to advance the king, as counter-intuitive as that looks. White had an immediate draw with the computer-like 49.Rhh8 Bc6 50.Rh6! and Black has to accede to the repetition.

A titanic battle and a big round of applause to both players. Kramnik wrested the initiative with black from the start and played to win. And defending such an endgame against Kramnik is a real trial by fire for anyone, even the Hero of Nanjing. The other games certainly couldn't live up to that battle, but there were some highlights. Morozevich sacrificed a piece against Leko but the Hungarian defended creatively to force a draw. Ponomariov used his unusual 5..Bd6 against the Catalan (which ended up looking more like an Anti-Moscow Semi-Slav), which he used earlier this year against Topalov. Gelfand couldn't prevent the ..c5 and ..e5 breaks with rapid simplification. Aronian gave it his best shot against Svidler's inevitable Grunfeld, but it was Black who came out with a little something to play for. After some sharp exchanges it fizzled to the first draw of the day.

World champion Vishy Anand, finally playing a classical event, also trotted out the Grunfeld against Ivanchuk. White got a good position but as usual Ivanchuk was in bad time trouble. It never became lethal, but it was enough to cost him his advantage. Anand missed a chance to play for a win with 30..a3 31.b3 Nb5 with a potent bind. Instead Ivanchuk had a relatively easy time of blitzing to the control and into a drawn rook endgame.

Round 2: Kramnik-Anand, Svidler-Ivanchuk, Ponomariov-Aronian, Carlsen-Morozevich, Leko-Gelfand. Macauley is hosting with Larry Christiansen while I battle print deadlines.


Yes, agree that carlsen-kramnik match was very interesting. But so was Ivanchuk-Anand and Morozevich-Leko. I thought white had chances in both the games. At one point, most of the pieces of Anand were in its initial position with Ivanchuk's queen leading the attack. And it appeared to me(rybka, of course) that Moro wasted too many rook moves on an open h rank. Looking forward to kramnik-anand in round 2.

Mig, that was one of your best Round 1 reports ever!! Your prose was terrific here!

Mig, thanks for taking the time to a most excellent report on a busy schedule. I’m looking forward to playing through the other first-round games, particularly the two mentioned by Khrishna. But I must confess that the tension and complexities in Carlsen--Kramnik just kept me riveted! What a fight!!

I'll tell you what, Carlsen is definitely the cat's whiskers. Not many who could put up that fight against Kramnik, or play so innovatively. This is Kramnik's patented style, and Carlsen withstood one of the sternest tests he can face. And Anand-Kramnik today... If Topalov had been playing, this would have been the strongest tournament ever!

It's hard for me to recall when a super GM endgame so fascinated me. Carlsen-Kramnik was a spectators delight. Kramnik is doing a wonderful job of reinventing his style..as he said after his match with Anand he needed to get involved in more dynamic stuff.

I am blown away that an 18 year old can have those kind of nerves.

Another couple of early ..g7-g5-g4's from Kramnik that I remembered:

Lautier-Kramnik Tilburg 1997 http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1302291 (0-1)

Radjabov-Kramnik Linares 2003 http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1260784 (½-½)

Round 2: again two Grunfelds, now from Anand and Aronian - is Kasparov also coaching both of them? ,:) . Anand had played the opening until 2002 and picked it up again this year (chessgames.com has five rapid games).

And a(nother) Nimzo-Indian in Carlsen-Morozevich, where Magnus may have loast faith in 4.Qc2 and switched to 4.f3.

Did you really remember that Kramnik played g7-g5-g4 in these games or did you look through a database to find g7-g5-g4? If the former, that would mean you have a very impressive memory. I can barely remember what openings I played against some people years ago.

I did remember those two games but wasn't sure when and where they were played.

But I most definitely do NOT have a very impressive memory. It's just that I have played through those games several times and in general I have an easier time remembering games by my favourite player(s).

Man, Anand is playing a dangerous game!

And Svidler Ivanchuk is another piece of considered chaos!

In Rowson's book, I see that 17..e6 18.Bc7 was considered bad for Black after Chernin-Horvath 1992, with 17..f5 (btw played for instance in Mamedyarov- Grischuk, Elista 2008) suggested as an improvement. Anand plays 17..e6 anyway and presumably knows what he is doing.

In Lékó-Gelfand, 19..Bxa3 was Kramnik's novelty against Jakovenko in Dortmund 2007 (where he got an easy draw) - after 19..Bf6 invariably being played by a number of great players earlier, he realized that you could just take the pawn and get away with it!

Yeah, quite possible that Anand found an improvement on Horvath and Rowson. I wonder if these super-GMs actually consult "old-fashioned opening books" for their preparation? Of course they use computers, both engines and databases. I remember hearing that many also read (rather than mouse-click) NewinChess, but that might already be primarily for entertainment value!?

Omigosh, Kramnik went for it.. very unbalanced now. Looks like it will be decisive one way or the other..

Haven't we been all the way down this road several times before? Recently? (I'm looking at 21. Rxd1)

Now Thomas - commit yourself - it it white who is obligated to introduce the new move??

(I mean Kramnik - Anand, of course).

There are conflicting self-reports of your opinion on this matter.

Congratulations Acirce for your rapid correct answer on ICC.

Kramnik has sacrificed queen...positional sacrifice...the guy looks like he is on a mission...he is playing more like Kasparov than Kramnik!! Looks like today is more exciting than yesterday!!

I think Kramnik will win with his passed pawn on c6. If not, he can probably draw any time he wants.

Heh, thanks. I actually won yesterday's one-month ICC account extension trivia contest as well. Easy questions (then it was what player Tal beat to become World Champion), just have to be a fast typer. Of course they get tougher when more is at stake. I think I can afford one month of ICC on my own, but if I keep winning one every day..

I was wrong. Anand snapped off the c6 pawn. Nothing is going to happen now.

Morozevich has neglected his development and Carlsen is going to crush him.

@tjallen: "Haven't we been all the way down this road several times before?"
Do you know for sure? According to the Chessok live coverage, Anand's 18.-Bf3: was a novelty with respect to Chernin(2600)-Horvath(2119) [maybe the ELO difference has to be taken into account concerning that game?]
If so, _here_ black (Anand) was obliged to come up with an improving new move to 'repair' the line. Otherwise, it is indeed hard to give a 'general' answer to your question.

@Luke: The game moves on faster than we can comment on it. In the meantime, Kramnik lost his passed c-pawn but still has compensation with the bishop pair. Rybka gave two "+0.00" lines on chessok - one leading to an opposite-colored bishops endgame, the current one ends with an apparently forced repetition. Rybka needs a sixfold repetition to come up with its final verdict!?
If the game ends in such a way, it will again be "one of the better draws"!?

Draw. Anand again outpreparing Kramnik.

Anand will just trade off the pieces and get the draw that he wants. Meanwhile, Carlsen is getting ready to start a big attack.

Anand's neutralization with Black continues to impress. Kramnik tried his best but a draw was the most logical option. Incidentally Anand has long experience with the Grunfeld playing it in the 1995 Kamsky match.

Man, is it "play the Grunfeld and get 15% off at Wal-mart" week?
(I love the Grunfeld. Just curious about its current hyper-popularity. These top players seem more fashion-obsessed than your average 13 year old :) )

Yes, sorry, Thomas, but I cannot find the game I was confusing this with, in a quick search, but it seems to me we've analyzed this whole theme and white d pawn push, Q sac and all, before. I erroneously thought we were still following a previous game, sorry.

Ponomariov has a lot of fire power aimed at Aronian's king. He should win this.

Svidler - Ivanchuk will be a draw. They need to make a few more moves to make it official. I wouldn't want to play either side.

Either Morozevich is a good defender, Carlsen's attack is too slow, or Luke can't understand what's going on. Seems that Carlsen should have more than a measly extra doubled pawn.

Why are Leko and Gelfand still playing a drawn position? Just to run the move count higher? Just shake hands and go have a drink in the bar.

Solid stuff from Kramnik, not making any mistakes despite playing against Anand's preparation. I'd imagine he's fairly happy to draw early today after yesterday - at the start of today's commentary on Carlsen-Morozevich Shipov said that it took him ages to get the variations from Carslen-Kramnik out of his head, and he was only commentating!

No problem, indeed it is a fairly common theme in the Grunfeld - of course the assessment of the resulting position depends on the _exact_ circumstances.

This means that Kramnik doesn't get a high score for creativity, maybe not for risk taking either (if he saw that the game will soon peter out to a draw). Possibly "yalie" (last commment on chessgames.com) has a point: "Looks like Kramnik learnt something from Bonn. When faced with an Anand novelty, do not try to win on principle - just force the draw (here with 20..dxc instead of 20..d6)."

Is this a bad result for Kramnik? Not if - as acirce suggested - one of his objectives is to defend his rating, he actually gains 0.x rating points from today's game.

Should Anand be _strongly_ praised for his "impressive neutralization with black"? Hmm, other players - e.g. Kramnik but he's not the only one - are rather criticized for playing the Petroff, arguably as a drawing weapon.

Anyway, I still consider the game "one of the better draws", even if it was home preparation by Anand.

It might have been pragmatic - d6 would lead to a complex battle where Anand presumably knew exactly what he was doing - but dxc6 was only drawish if Anand found the tricky ...g4 push. Otherwise Kramnik could get a two rooks v queen position with good winning chances. That said I'm sure he assumed Anand had seen that move before going into the line.

Maybe they forgot that Sofia rules do not apply at this tournament? Or maybe they do apply for Leko (special treatment by the organizers)?

I don't see any win for either Carlsen or Morozevich. Limpid attack by Carlsen and just enough defense by Morozevich.

Fashion comes and goes ... . We still have to see the first Semi-Slav and, indeed, the first Sicilian [but so far, only three games started with 1.e4].
As far as the Grunfeld is concerned:
- Svidler plays it all the time
- Anand returned to the Grunfeld after many years. Maybe this also indicates that he will NOT play it in his match against Topalov? This might be a wise choice, given Topa's rather crushing score with white (+5=3-1 since 2006, according to chessgames.com). Or will Anand take up the gauntlet, as Kamsky did - successfully if a draw with black is considered a success?
- This would leave Aronian "acting as a 13-year old" ,:) . Is it coincidence that, of those three players, he is the one struggling with black today?

As both Kramnik and Anand are classical in their approach, pushing strongly for wins with white and content to draw with black, Anand's neutralization can be praised.
Draws with Petrov's rarely come with queen sacrifices.

In one of the Chesspro reports on Dortmund the MTel organiser said something like "Leko won't get away with that in Moscow", so you might actually be right! :) Leko speaks Russian so he'd at least have read it.

Blunder by Morozevich, losing his a-pawn...if Carlsen sees it. And some sloppy moves over in Leko-Gelfand. Leko should have taken on b2. That's so simple.

It doesn't matter that Moro loses his a-pawn does it? He gets to trade queens, which is a much more important concern. Endgame must be very drawish.

Perhaps Ponomariov can win so at least there will be one win instead of 100% draws. Fortunately, Leko and Gelfand decided to quit. Last time I looked, Carlsen was just wasting time.

Yes, you're right, so I guess it was not a blunder. My mistake.

This wasn't Anand's strategy in his match against Kramnik, though ... maybe he (successfully) chose a different approach at this occasion when two 'classical' players faced each other.

You have a point that today's draw was more crowd-pleasing, of course it was white who sacrificed his queen. But is it a fundamental difference if one uses the Petroff as a drawing weapon, or the Grunfeld, the Sveshnikov or the Najdorf poisoned pawn (many lines there lead to perpetual check)?

Bottom line: my comment was primarily addressed at those criticizing Kramnik and other Petroff players.

Perhaps you should stop jinxing every game with your stupid predictions.
Coming here late was a good idea indeed.

You can be nice if you want to be nice. Or you can be Manu.

Big difference between Nanjing and Moscow, despite rating similarities, you can't compare Morozevich, Ivanchuk et al with the Jakovenkos and Wang Yues.

Is Ponomariov-Aronian still being played or has Ponomariov gone to sleep? No move for 20 minutes. I'm getting tired of this. Just play 31.Rf1 and get it over with.

Where is Tiviakov when you need him? :)

And we have our tenth draw. Is this going to be the Unive tournament all over again? :) Who'll win the decisive decisive game?

I'm not impressed, and I'm not going to waste time watching these guys tomorrow. I've got better things to do. Maybe I'll start watching again if they crank it up.

Seriously, and to state the obvious, Anand should be happy now having "saved" two Blacks, while the opposite holds for Carlsen. Maybe enough to have Vishy turned into the favourite now if he wasn't already. But Kramnik has the highest TPR, so without doubt he must have played the best chess so far!

Two opposite-colored Bishop endgames in a row for Carlsen... I totally agree with your assessment that Kramnik has so far played the best chess. He certainly was impressive yesterday vs. Carlsen and his going for it today vs. Anand should strike trepidation into the other players.

Wow, one of the strongest players in the world attempts to win with white. Truly awe-inspiring.

"more like Kasparov ..."

More like Tal!

Interesting fighting game, outstanding commentary. Thanks.

I guess what Jim meant: Kramnik was trying to hit Anand in a topical main line, not being afraid of his preparation. Compare this to Ivanchuk yesterday bailing out with 5.e3 against Anand's Grunfeld - ironically, this quiet approach (probably a surprise for the opponent) gave him the better chances until he got himself into (usual) time trouble.

Whether Kramnik really played the best chess so far is another story, I think acirce was a bit ironic saying so - we will see if Kramnik can maintain or improve on his current TPR by winning against some "lower-rated" players ... .

If the current world no.5, former champion, and championship aspirant can't challenge his opponents in the main lines, then I don't know who can. I'd be more impressed by Anand who looked to be under no pressure as black against a dangerous opponent. As for Ivanchuk, like you say, he got the better game with his line. I'm not surprised that he chose a sideline where his vast experience and erudition might count.

If Kramnik is a "barometer" and conclusions can be reached from drawn games, then a well-rested Anand indeed seems to be in better shape than Carlsen?
However, seven rounds to go and hopefully some decisive games to come!

Tomorrow's menu:
Anand-Svidler (will we see Anand play _against_ the Grunfeld?)
Morozevich-Kramnik (Moro is unpredictable, and at times a difficult opponent for Vlad)

Kramnik was impressive, and refreshing in round one. Still, I am most impressed by Carlsen who actually walled him. Very strong psyche. Kramnik has been hiding for oh so long preparing. It didn't matter. I believe this was his most severe test ever.

It is hard for me to see all draws and must be also hard for players who half are not happy. I have not played all the games yet. Some one should be ready to win tomorrow I wonder who.

I'd almost forgotten how well you can write.

By far the best first round commentary I've seen on the web (though I can't read russian).

Such Passion!! who would have thunk there were 5 draws

Hmm ... the odds of winning tomorrow, from most likely to least likely:


And no, listing both Kramnik and Morozevich 1-2 was not an error.

Just my predicted observation. And remember, as my opinion, ut should be flame-retardant. Your opinions, however, are welcome.


I think your list is good but what is flame retadrant.

Dunno what 'retadrant' means. My last line should of course have read "IT should be flame retardant," meaning that it (my opinion) should not be defiled by other posters. Said defiling is commonly called 'flaming.' As an American idiom, 'flame retardant' is a phrase used in the garment industry to describe clothes that are difficult to burn (it is used in other industries as well). I borrowed it for use in this context. Note that it has nothing to do with implying a lack of intelligence.


Interesting to see what Kramnik was thinking during the first game - perhaps he stayed so calm until the time control because he was convinced Carlsen's e4 was simply a mistake (it looked like a great idea to me). Suspicions that Kramnik would take pleasure in outwitting Kasparov's opening preparation seem to be confirmed :)


Kramnik: "After the opening I had a good position - Magnus' trainer had clearly not done enough work. The Nimzovitsch with Qc2 is one of Kasparov's favourite systems; clearly, they'd worked on it together, but badly. At a few points I could have forced a draw, but I didn't want to. I could have picked up the pawn on g2, but that's a draw, probably, and in the end we got a position that was unpleasant for him. Perhaps I needed to play more subtly, not allow him to regroup. He somehow managed to transfer the bishop to c3 when otherwise it would have been very unpleasant. After that it seemed to me that he was holding on, but something possessed him and he played e4 when he needed to play a4 and Ra3. Of course then I'd still be applying pressure, but a win would be unlikely. After something possessed him he already had a difficult position. But Magnus defended stubbornly. I probably let him escape in time trouble when I could have played stronger moves.

After the time control, on move 41, I sat down to look for a win but couldn't find one, so I decided to make a draw. And then, unexpectedly, he started to play for a win. Complete madness! His position was worse, you had to pray for a draw by a tempo. I thought - maybe I'm wrong? But then he told me that he really was playing for a win. I probably had a win, but I relaxed, considering that after I took on c3 it was completely won and my pawns would queen. And then he began to create some sort of studies, some mate threats. He made a miraculous draw.

It's funny, but in our analysis we couldn't immediately find a way to win, though it seems as though the position's completely won. Starting from the 42nd move he made only moves, but the position, it seems, held. Though at a certain point I'd already chalked myself up a point on the score table".

great quotes. "Magnus' trainer had clearly not done enough work" OUCH!
but nice compliment (in a backhanded way) to Carlsen's amazing spirit.

Some typical Kramnik arrogance when it comes to opinions about his opponents, but much more interesting than bland politically correct statements. What's funny is his bewilderment at not winning. Hey I was winning, I should have won, but didn't, where did I go wrong? Answer don't know. Heh.... I think Kramnik truly believes he's better than everybody else, and it makes for great theatre. Certainly the animosity with Kasparov (and Kasparov's with Kramnik) played out by proxy is compelling. I'm glad that Carlsen showed Kramnik that his chess opinions are not always correct..

Well Carlsen clearly admitted that announcing Kasparov was his coach just before Nanjing was Psych Ops 101. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with Kramnik kicking some sand in his face (as the Boss might put it).
And as for the winning/not winning theme, I suspect that's quite common, even the top are a little unsure about the ebb and flow in the game. Its only later that a "narrative" is imposed on it.

Yep, strong and maybe controversial stuff by Kramnik - thanks mishanp for translating and sharing this with us! I guess this was said rather soon after the game - maybe he will modify some of his statements if he still cannot find a win for black after more thorough (post-tournament) analyses?

But I don't think he is arrogant concerning all of his opponents, and "believes that he is [far] better than everybody else" - for example, he praised Anand's play after their WCh match [of course, he had little choice at the time ...].

Yes, the reciprocal animosity with Kasparov shows in Kramnik's comments. Besides issues going further back in time, Kramnik sort of returned the favor to Kasparov - who wasn't impressed by Kramnik-Carlsen 1-0, Dortmund 2009.

And in a way, Carlsparov suggested that Kramnik was right concerning opening preparation, switching to a different anti-Nimzo line in the next round. Easy to suggst in hindsight, but would it have been more promising to play 4.f3 (offbeat, leading to slightly chaotic positions) against Kramnik, and the generally solid 4.Qc2 against Moro?

Im glad Kramnik adds some spice to this tickle contest , What else can he do?

This tournament misses Topalov , but even more misses the Sofia and Bilbao rules .

"Generally solid" is a strange characterization for how Kasparov played this line. "Tactico-positional adventurous" would be more like it.
Carlsen showed he wanted to play for a win against Kramnik. He can't do that by avoiding main lines.

I definitely agree it wasn't politically correct, but players have come out with worse after 6 hours of chess! On the question of whether it was won or not - it's hard for the players who haven't been following Rybka and GM commentary to be "objective", but the consensus agrees that the position WAS probably won for black at the end. Kramnik had a few tries (all moving the king forwards instead of back) that might have won. The implication of "we" couldn't find it is that Carlsen also considered the position won. Not finding the winning line in post-game analysis isn't definitive.

I still think the assessment after Carlsen's e4 is more questionable - but chess players tend to be optimistic, and as I said if he'd thought "wow, Carlsen might be outplaying me here" it might have been trickier to find the right moves. As to arrogance - of course no top players have a low opinion of their ability (not even e.g. Svidler), but I don't see him claiming he's a better player than Carlsen (who he's mentioned as the Federer of chess). Carlsen's handling of the endgame after the time control was reckless and he was nearly lost in the end.

By the way, that Chesspro report also has a wonderful snippet about Ivanchuk. All the players were given a book, "Studies for the Practical Player", at the opening ceremony. The next day, after explaining his first round game with Anand, he turned to Mark Dvoretsky, one of the co-authors, to say he was up until the early hours reading the book! He said he really liked it and then went on to show how he refuted a Kasparyan study when he was 17 years old...

"Generally solid" was of course a _general_ comment. For one thing, 4.Qc2 is the most serious response to the Nimzo (e.g. 4.Bd2 doesn't count) that avoids strategically risky doubled c-pawns. How Kasparov treated this line is another story, partly because theory has evolved since he retired.

This year Carlsen played three games against Kramnik in the 4.Qc2 line:
Carlsen-Kramnik 0-1(20), Amber blindfold [yes it was blindfold, and Carlsen had a complete off day or hour]
Carlsen-Kramnik 1/2(19), Dortmund [Carlsen "resigned" himself to an early repetition]
and the one debated here
Is this already a pattern?

Evidence that 4.f3 might have done better is even more limited: Apparently Kramnik faced this move only once ever - in his WCh match against Anand when he was struggling to reach a draw. But maybe this wasn't directly related to the opening, and it would be naive to assume that Vlad hasn't done any homework since then ... .

"For one thing, 4.Qc2 is the most serious response to the Nimzo (e.g. 4.Bd2 doesn't count)"
Why is it the most serious? There are other critical lines.
Any why, to prove your point, do you use one of the most feeble responses to the Nimzo?

I just read Kramnik's comments as recorded by Vasiliev and I'm guessing they're more reliable: http://www.sport-express.ru/newspaper/2009-11-07/7_19/ He says Kramnik came out to talk to a group of journalists, so I don't think there were private interviews.

Mainly it's exactly the same wording as in the Chesspro piece with a few extra details e.g. after e4 Kramnik says: "I don't know why he did it, perhaps he simply underestimated 34...f5. After that mistake he has a very tough position. But Magnus played excellently, and - tempo by tempo! - managed to defend and practically make a draw".

But the significant difference is that at the start of his comments Kramnik said Carlsen hadn't done enough work on the opening, not Kasparov. In this version it was only Vasiliev who asked, after Kramnik's assessment of the whole game, if Kramnik had been aware of Kasparov being behind Carlsen and maybe had chosen the line for that reason. Only then does Kramnik say that it's a favourite line of Kasparov's and that Carlsen and Kasparov must have worked on it, "but badly". After that he left, smiling.

So in that version he's provoked into mentioning Kasparov, and may be slightly tongue-in-cheek.

I can't resist translating part of the introduction to Shipov's commentary on Morozevich-Kramnik today: http://online.crestbook.com/tal09-03.htm

"Alexander is traditionally loved by the public as an unusual and extremely belligerent chess player. Vladimir at this tournament has also been remarkably aggressive.

There are even malicious rumours that he's being helped by Topalov - who's given his "charge" a part of his furious desire to win... In any case, there's an attractive struggle ahead! I'm sure that it will be today that the dam of draws will finally burst. Who'll be the new Rambo? Who'll spill the first blood? Time will tell..."


Read the entire sentence: the most serious response _that avoids doubled c-pawns_ - maybe I should add "altogether" (in some other lines black has to devote a tempo to -Bc3: as white refuses to play a3).
If 4.f3 is that feeble may also be a matter of opinion - some "fairly strong" players, e.g. young Shirov, played it regularly. And fashion comes and goes, 4.a3 was standard decades ago but seems to be completely out of business at least at top level.

But I am not at all an expert on the Nimzo: I wouldn't even consider it with black because I love the bishop pair, and with white I play 1.e4. Now - unfortunately(!?) I have to leave to play an own game of chess, so I will miss the live coverage this afternoon.

Who is (possibly, or "as rumors go") helped by Topalov: Kramnik or Morozevich? As far as I know, Topa doesn't like and doesn't shake hands with either player ... .

So who was lying? chesspro or you?

Kramnik - but of course Shipov's joking! Unless the chess world's all just one great conspiracy...

Read his whole sentence: "..that avoids strategically risky doubled c-pawns".

Sorry, too late.

Blame the messenger, why don't you :) Maybe the Chesspro writers innocently conflated Kramnik's comments, maybe they thought it would be neater to remove the role of Vasiliev, or maybe Vasiliev made up the fact that he asked the question (though I'd have thought that would be spotted too easily). Who knows? I'm not in Moscow.

I'd recommend some coffee.

According to pictures of the players there are 5 who wear eye glasses and 5 who do not wear. I wonder if the eye glass weares will win.

I was referring to Bd2 not f3, which I regard as an interesting line. There was an interesting article by Tiviakov some years ago where Black answers f3 with an early Nc6, looked quite solid, I'm surprised nobody is trying it. Though I read the whole post I somehow overlooked the doubled pawns line. I assume my brain has such a horror of the things it blanked them from my mind. Anyway there are other lines which avoid doubled pawns, e.g. e3 and Nge2. I hope Qc2 gets put out of business, I think the lines surfacing now where Black really fights for counterplay are the right idea.

Morozevich-Kramnik doesn't look solid, generally or evolved or whatever. It looks like the Qc2 line.

There's a video link, by the way: http://video.russiachess.org/browse/7#session66 (Russian commentary)

The Morozevich-Kramnik live game scores are very different on playchess.com and chessvibes. Anyone know what's happening? Who's right?

The correct moves now appear on chessvibes after refreshing.

Morozevich 21. Qb5 was an unfortunate move , Kramnik should win this game with no problems.

It is hard to understand all the moves. Mr. Kramnik is the taller and wears eye glasses and I think makes good moves but I probly wrong.

Qb5 was praised by all the commentators - otherwise Morozevich just lost a pawn with no compensation. The exchange sac complicated the position - apparently Qb7 after h6 (ignoring the attack on the knight) led to crazy complications with good drawing (at least!) chances for Morozevich, but maybe it was too crazy even for him. Now Kramnik's 27...Qe4 doesn't seem great, but who knows. Again, certainly not going for a dry draw with black!

The rest of the field could use some Sofia and Bilbao rules , and pronto.

21Qf3 was better IMHO , not sure what the engines recomends , but im curious about who praised Qb5 and why.

Are you actually watching the games!? They're all hard-fought except for Gelfand-Carlsen, but that final position's not going to be anything but a draw however long you force them to push wood.

Moro showed there is life in the corpse like position yet.
Anand-Svidler looked quiet but then came time-trouble at the worst moment for Svidler just as Anand began heating things up.

Im sorry but i don´t see much fight on the rest of the games , please tell me more about the prasing of the Qb5 line ...

I am watching Anand play and even I can win against Sdvidler.

Shipov and Notkin recommended Qb5 to complicate the position and give white chances. Qf3 simply lost a pawn: 21.Qf3 Qc4+! 22.Kg1 Ne2+ 23.Kh2 Qxh4+ 24.Nh3 Nef4

The current (after 29.Nb3) position is evidence enough that Qb5 was the right choice. Now Kramnik needs to look at sacrificial lines when around now he'd like just to have a clear technical position (and Morozevich "missed" 29.Qb7).

I think Kramnik shuold play Qe2 and checkmate in some time because the king has noplace to go soon. Thats what I think.

Better late than never with Qb7!? If Kramnik see 30...Nxf2 then he's officially in form :)

After that Rd4, and white should be able to hold.
The current position do not show that Qb5 was the right move IMHO.

Anand draws first blood. Sublime play, helped by a bad blunder. Look at the position around the 19th move, very innocuous and suddenly ten moves later Svidler goes down in flames, a very grisly finish.

I am wrong one more time but so are some othrs. It does not mean any thing because it is all fun any way. Maybe I have discoved some thing with the eye glass wearers who win today.

Finally some blood , it has to be the World Champ the first one to stop the curse.

Mr. Manu I know what you mean with blood but I wish you do nto say so because there is to much blood already and real.

is there a link for shipov's comments in english?

also, my icc dasher doesn't work because the required port number is blocked at my org :( is there any solution to that?

Morozevich hoping for a mouse slip!

Well I say goodbye every one I have seen enough.

No Shipov in English (Russian: http://online.crestbook.com/tal09-03.htm ) - it's even a hard page to translate automatically. For Manu here's the commentary around 21. Qb5. (for what it's worth maybe the bad position after Qf3 would have been better, though if Morozevich had seen 29. Qb7 we might have had a masterpiece on our hands).

"20 ... Nc1! An audacious raid horse pushes the white queen from the field c4. Or from c2. Bright maneuver! I painfully looking for white in any way satisfactory continued ... I found it! We need to introduce a queen in the b5, and then hit the boat on d5! The main problem for Sasha now - to keep cool. Nerved and develop resistance.
21.Qb5! Done! Did everything as it should. The struggle continues. Time: 0.34 - 1.15.
[The loss of a queen or Mato led
21.Qd4? Qa6 +!]
[Just a bad position without pawns --
21.Qf3 Qc4 +! 22.Kg1 Ne2 + 23.Kh2 Qxh4 + 24.Nh3 Nef4 etc.]"

"Boat" = rook, "horse" = knight, "field" = square, ("Sasha" = Alexander). Sadly no "elephants" = bishops!

Fantastic round. Kramnik is showing. For all the people in the game out there, we may have a dream tournament. Is there a round tomorrow?

This time i'll stick to my own opinion , after all it was after that move that i was able to predict the final result :)

The possibly brilliant move mentioned for Morozevich should be 26. Qb7 and not 29. Qb7 (with 27. e6 to follow, though black might actually be fine). I like Maxim Notkin's summary of the round: "the coming of the end of the world and death by draws has been temporarily postponed"!

I came in late, now catching up on today's exciting round ... . My first impressions:
1) on opening theory:
- the 4.Qc2 line in the Nimzo indeed seems to be under pressure. But Moro-Kramnik may have evolved differently if white had "simply" accepted the pawn sacrifice (10.Qc7:) rather than going for a wild kingside attack with some coffee house content?
- against the Grunfeld, Anand's quiet approach (and Ivanchuk's in round1, solely considering the opening?) worked better than other players trying deeply analyzed mainlines.
2) on decisive games in general: Svidler blundered. Moro, as I said, played coffeehouse chess - today it would have taken all his creativity to _maybe_ stay in the game, but it had worked against Kramnik at previous occasions. So praise for Kramnik anyway. This leaves Aronian-Leko as a relatively "clean" victory.

Kramnik gave an interview (www.chesspro.ru) where he says, about his game against Carlsen, that "his trainer didn't do his work properly".


See my posts at 2:54 and 6:33 am. The Chesspro report might slightly misrepresent Kramnik, though he definitely said that Kasparov's preparation wasn't up to scratch in that line.

Thomas - I don't really see that Moro's imaginative approach to the opening stops it from being a "clean victory for Kramnik" (Shipov's first comment at the end of the game). Wrestling the initiative in the opening is usually part of any convincing victory, and your coffee shop chess needs to be pretty good to get to 2750+. As you say, Kramnik's struggled against Moro's offbeat approach before, but today he avoided all the sacs on e6, found a very cute and logical means to put white under pressure (Nc5-b3-c1), didn't make any clear mistakes and delivered the Nxf2 coup-de-grace when given the chance.

Of course if Moro had gone for 10. Qxc7 we might have had less fun, but then Moro wouldn't have been Moro, and who knows, Kramnik might have had an improvement in mind (a previous game was apparently almost immediately drawn after Qxc7). Moro's opening play was promising enough for Shipov to be unsure for some time if it wasn't home preparation.

The Qc2 line is a risky approach. After six moves, White's only developed piece is the queen. That's exactly what we tell the kids not to do in the opening. White has some compensation for this strategical gambit: Bishop pair, space advantage. When things work out fine, you make good use of your active options, build up pressure and complete the delayed development in one go. A modern, dynamic way to deal with the opening. When something goes wrong, you get caught with your king stuck in the center, your queen exposed, and your chess called coffeehouse by uninitiated e4 players.

Moro's play probably wasn't home preparation, reportedly he already spent 30 minutes for 11.e4 (or did he just forget his prep?). Along the lines of Bartleby's "when things work out fine" might have been something as g3, Bg2, 0-0 ?

Maybe I was too harsh on Moro, influenced by live commentary (which I saw after the game) of IM Robert Ris at Chessvibes. After move 24: "White's position seems hopeless, though resignation is not an option yet (at least not for Moro!)". If things went that far that soon for the white player, he must have done a few things wrong in addition to black doing things right? But Ris doesn't mention (didn't see?) the tricky 26. Qb7

Anyway, yes it took precise and also non-standard (Nc5-b3-c1) play by Kramnik to avoid all traps and wrestle the initiative. Put differently: It takes a 2750+ player to deal with 2750+ level coffehouse chess!?

BTW, for a while Chessbase had Shipov's comments in English translation - unfortunately it seems they stopped again (the contract wasn't renewed?). Hence we have to rely - again - on mishanp and/or others fluent in Russian.

I have found the Google translation toolbar quite helpful for following Shipov's commentary on crestbook. Once you've installed it and have chosen to translate a couple of times, it can be set to translate Russian automatically.

Mishanp - thanks for the translation. Entertaining and thought-provoking commentary from big Vlad.

"I'm not impressed, and I'm not going to waste time watching these guys tomorrow. I've got better things to do. Maybe I'll start watching again if they crank it up."

-Today was really the day to follow the games. Bad luck, Luke! ;-)

Luke is just arrogant. If he played any of these guys, he would most likely end up with a lost position after 20 moves.

Yes, Round Four is on Sunday. Monday is a day off. Round Five is on Tuesday.

Luke's boycott threat was responsible for the decisive games in round 3.

Due to Luke's boycott, we missed some essential information: Why were those games decisive? How many stupid moves did those weak 2700+ GMs play? He has a lot of catching up to do ... .

If you think I am a moron, then there are plenty of other morons who could fill my shoes. Obviously, you come to mind instantly, but there are others. Some morons are weakies and only squeak when they think it is safe for them to jump in at the end. Even though they are morons, they are not qualified to comment because they have no independent thoughts. I could give you plenty of examples, but I'm feeling charitable today and don't want to make anyone cry.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 5, 2009 11:37 PM.

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