Boris Gelfand was declared sole winner of the Tal Memorial today in Moscow. The Israeli grandmaster had an undefeated performance of +3; two of his wins were achieved with the black pieces. This great run put Gelfand back in the top-10 at the live ratings list; he is 9th after gaining 18 points in this event. Defending champion Magnus Carlsen recovered from his loss against Caruana in the third round to finish sole second with 5.5/9 points.
The best Russian in the competition ended up being the lowest-rated, Dmitry Andreikin. The national champion drew eight of his games and defeated Vladimir Kramnik. Andreikin shared 3rd-5th places with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Fabiano Caruana. The young Italian jumped to third place in the live ratings list, and is four points away from the 2800-mark.
The eventual champion arrived to his last game with a draw in mind. His rival, Vladimir Kramnik, did not have a good event and was not likely to push too hard with white, as he was probably expecting to finish the tournament as soon as possible, rest and think about his next compromises. This forecast was accurate as their game was the first one to finish. The experienced strategists split the point in 25 moves.
Gelfand left the playing hall and went on to wait for the result in the game of his closest follower, favorite Magnus Carlsen. The Norwegian also had the black pieces, and faced Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. This game was a totally different affair, as the players went into a sharp middlegame. Gelfand must have been relieved to see that the Azerbaijani was in the driver seat in the middle of the complications, but it is impossible to write-off Carlsen even in the worst situations. This time, the Israeli finished on top as the game ended in a draw in 33 moves.
The only decisive game of the day was the win of Alexander Morozevich over Hikaru Nakamura. This was Morozevich’s only victory of the event and Nakamura’s third straight loss. The American had a performance full of ups and downs, as he only drew one game, won four and lost four. He seemed in good shape to win the tournament after the sixth round, when he was sole leader and only had Gelfand close behind.
The game was a sharp Queen’s Gambit Accepted where Morozevich chose very complicated lines at the critical moments. The American was left with a healthier pawn structure while black had the bishop pair and a dangerous passed c-pawn. However, the decisive factor in the end was Morozevich’s control of the open h-file. Nakamura sacrificed an exchange to free himself but the material disadvantage was impossible to overcome later. The American resigned on move 49.
Fabiano Caruana and Dmitry Andreikin drew their last round game in 41 moves of a Ruy Lopez. Both players finished on +1 which might be considered more successful for the Russian. Caruana comes from playing the Grand Prix in Thessaloniki and, with two good results in these two events, he rose to third place in the live ratings lists, thanks to an impressive gain of 22 points in the last period. The Italian was not very satisfied with his play in the event, but said that his result was not bad, and that he got it with a little bit of luck.
Sergey Karjakin and Viswanathan Anand signed a rather quick draw in a Sicilian. The world champion’s performance was below par, as he lost three games, something that is very rare for the Indian. The young Russian finished on -1 and was probably expecting a better result in the tournament.
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili