27 September 2016

Cramming your Head with Blitz

10th Tal Memorial Opening in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

On September 25 the Museum of Russian Impressionism, situated in the complex "Bolshevik" on the Leningrad Prospect, Moscow, gave a ceremonial start to the jubilee Xth Tal Memorial. The festive mood was accompanied by a warm sunny weather, which has been a rare guest in our capital city recently.

Following a three-year break, one of our favorite tournaments returns to Moscow in a classical format and is organized as part of the "Chess in Museums" project, carried out since 2012 by joint efforts of the Russian Chess Federation and the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation. The general sponsor of the event in the Russian Highways state company "Avtodor".

With a starry lineup featuring Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 2808), Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2795), Viswanathan Anand (India, 2776), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2761), Anish Giri (Netherlands, 2755), Li Chao (China, 2746), Peter Svidler (Russia, 2745), Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2743), Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia, 2740) and Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia, 2731), the tournament promises high-quality exciting battles peppered with a certain amount of surprises. The tournament is FIDE category 21 (the average rating of the participants as of  01.09.2016 amounts to 2760).

The opening ceremony welcomed such guests as 10th and 12th world champions Boris Spassky and Anatoly Karpov, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, world title challenger Sergey Karjakin, vice-president of "Sberbank" Vladimir Vorozheikin, businessman and philanthropist Oleg Skvortsov and many other famous personalities.

The ceremony began with a press conference, which was attended by the Museum of Russian Impressionism founder Boris Mints, museum director Yulia Petrova, RCF Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky, former world champion Viswanathan Anand, and one of the strongest world chess players Boris Gelfand.

Mark Glukhovsky refreshed everyone about regulations, narrated about lineup, tournament history and the international program "Chess in Museums." In the case of equal amount of final points shared by two or more players a winner will be decided on a tie-break rather than on additional tie-breakers, which happens for the first time in the history of Tal Memorials.

The Tal Memorial, being one of the strongest world tournaments, has for many years been run in Moscow and is an important milestone event for us. This is well evidenced by the venue and lineup.  I do appreciate that the Museum of Russian Impressionism has opened its doors for us," noted Mark Glukhovsky, RCF Executive Director.

Boris Mints, "It is a great honor for me that our museum hosts one of the most outstanding tournaments of modern times held in the memory of the great world champion Mikhail Tal. I am sure that everything will be done from our side for the tournament to to live up to highest expectations."

The Museum founder also shared his recollections of getting to know and keeping company with the eighth world champion. 

In his turn Boris Gelfand recalled once playing cards with Mikhail Tal, while Viswanathan Anand remembered participating in the same event with Tal and commenting games jointly with him. Besides, the ex-world champion reminded starting his chess career in his native Chennai at the club bearing Mikhail Tal's name. "It pleases me to see that the tournaments in the memory of the great champion keep rolling," said the Indian grandmaster in conclusion.

An entertaining episode from Mikhail Tal's life was shared with the audience by Boris Spassky, who was also present at the press conference.

Yulia Petrova mentioned the museum business hours during the competition and invited everyone to visit the long-awaited exhibition -- Valery Koshlyakov's project "Elysium" -- which is taking place at the Museum of Russian impressionism these days.

The opening ceremony was followed by the drawing of lots in the form of a blitz tournament, which was won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in grand style. The Azeri chess leader has achieved an outstanding result of 7.5 out of 9 points. Starting from round two, Shakhriyar successively defeated Boris Gelfand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian. Even having scored a tournament victory with one round to go, Mamedyarov went out to fight to knock out Li Chao.

Second place was taken by Levon Aronian, who finished two points behind the leader. Having started by beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in round one and Evgeny Tomashevsky in round three, the Armenian grandmaster failed to hold on to his lead, and, after going down to Mamedyarov in round five, his chances of taking first were virtually unattainable. However, the finish victories over Li Chao and Boris Gelfand allowed Levon taking "silver".

Places 3-5 with 5 points were shared between Ian Nepomniachtchi, Peter Svidler and Anish Giri. A 50-percent result was demonstrated by Vladimir Kramnik. 3.5 points and seventh place is with Boris Gelfand. Closing the tournament table were Evgeny Tomashevsky, Li Chao and Viswanathan Anand with 3 points.

The blitz tournament and cocktail dinner were followed by the chief arbiter Anatoly Avraamovich Bykhovsky announcing the final standings of the lots-drawing tournament and the players' start list.

In the main tournament the players are sorted out as follows:

1. Peter Svidler, 2. Ian Nepomniachtchi, 3. Levon Aronian, 4. Anish Giri, 5. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 6. Li Chao, 7. Viswanathan Anand, 8. Boris Gelfand, 9. Evgeny Tomashevsky, 10. Vladimir Kramnik.

Thus, round one will see the following pairings:

Svidler - Kramnik, Nepomniachtchi - Tomashevsky, Aronian - Gelfand, Giri - Anand, and Mamedyarov - Li.

Commenting battles online in Russian is done by Sergey Shipov (Ilya Smirin is supposed to join him soon), while doing same in English is assigned to Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Daniil Dubov.

All those interested in the schedule and other useful information will find it in the tournament-dedicated tab of our website.

We invite all chess fans to the Tal Memorial, where not only one is able to watch games of the recognized chess artists, but also to explore the exposition of artists exhibited in the Museum of Russian impressionism. Be sure to come, you will never regret it!