Opinions were divided on the quality of the world championship match. Anand and Gelfand played very rational, accurate chess. But that didn’t necessarily make it exciting. GM Peter Leko, an absolute purist, drew stares when he commented that it had been totally fascinating.
However, it was indisputably the best live coverage ever though interspersed with ads from the sponsors and (actually interesting) documentaries on the venue. The bi-lingual commentary was superb with Peter Svidler on the English channel and Alexander Grischuk in Russian. Even during the tie-breakers, they provided analysis as the players were bashing out a dozen moves a minute.
The prelim blitz in the Tal Memorial saw equally fantastic coverage. This time, the ads were less irritating because they were broadcast in-between rounds. The main event is a 10-player round robin featuring Carlsen, Aronyan, Kramnik, Radjabov, Nakamura, Caruana, Morozevich, Grischuk, Tomashevsky and McShane. The two relative unknowns are Evgeny Tomashevsky (rating 2738 and world no:15) and investment banker, McShane (2706, no:39). The prize fund for the main event is 100,000 euros.
With an even number of players in a round robin, half will always get an extra white. Normally, there would be a draw of lots for pairings. This time, there was a blitz at 3 minutes +2 seconds increment with the top five players getting the extra whites. The prize fund for the blitz was a hefty 15,000 euros — not bad for an hour’s work. Moro and Carlsen tied for first with 6.5 while Radjabov and Grischuk took 3-4 with 5.5 each. Fifth -sixth was shared by Aronyan and Nakamura on 5 each and Aronyan had the better tie-break score.
The main event starts on Friday. It’s difficult to call favourites in such a strong event. However, fifth seed Nakamura is likely to play some of the more attractive games if he maintains his US championship form.
The diagram, BLACK TO PLAY (Kamsky Vs Nakamura, US Chps 2012) was a lovely win against a key rival. It requires deep calculation, probably starting at move 40.
40-- Ra7! 41.Kxh5 Rxd5! The computers don't see this initially suggesting alternatives like 41.-- Bf8. 42.exd5 Bxa5 43.Re7 Bb6 This wins (almost) trivially. The alternative is the mainline 43.d6 Bxc7 44.dxc7 Ra8 45.Nd6 a5 46.c8Q Rxc8 47.Nxc8 a4 48.Nd6 a3 49.Nf5+ Kf6 50.Ne3 a2 51.Nc2 Ke6 52.Kg4 f5+ 53.Kh3 Kd6 54. Kg2 Kc5 55. Kf2 Kc4 56. Ke2 Kc3 57. Kd1 Kb2.
44.d6 a5 45.Kg5 Or 45.Nd8 Kf8 46.Rxa7 Bxa7 47.Nc6 Bb6 48.Nxe5 a4 49.Nc4 Bc5 50.d7 Ke7; Or 45.d7 Kf6 46.Re8 Rxb7 47.d8Q+ Bxd8 48.Rxd8 Ra7. Now black just runs the a-pawn through with 45...a4 46.Kf5 a3 47.Nd8 a2 48.Ne6+ Kh6! 49.Ng5 a1Q 50.Nxf7+ Kg7 (0-1).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player