The last three rounds at the Tal Memorial were extraordinary. Round six in the ten player, roundrobin ended with Morozevich and Kramnik tied for first. Both proceeded to lose in the seventh round. That left a five-way tie for first, with Moro., Kramnik, Radjabov, Caruana and Carlsen.
In the penultimate eighth round, Kramnik lost to Caruana. Moro lost to McShane. The other leaders drew. So Caruana (seeded no:6) went into the last round as leader, with 5 points. Carlsen and Radjabov were tied in second with 4.5 each.
The last round turned out to be as exciting. Caruana ran into some preparation from Aronyan. Aronyan had helped Gelfand during the world championship match and he unearthed a nasty little idea in the 3.f3 line Anand espoused against Gelfand’s Grunfeld Defence. Caruana didn't find an adequate response and got steamrollered.
Radjabov drew with Nakamura. Carlsen steadily and comprehensively outplayed McShane, grafting a small edge and gradually increasing it. When McShane resigned, Carlsen was a piece ahead. So when the dust settled, the world no:1 had reaffirmed his dominance.
Carlsen was the only player to end unbeaten with 5.5 (+2, =9) ahead of Caruana and Radjabov who both managed 5. The pack on 50 per cent included Aronyan, Grischuk who both started badly and Morozevich and Kramnik who both collapsed towards the end. Moro started with +3 from the first five rounds, Kramnik also suffered two losses in the late stages.
Carlsen gains a little rating — this is his tenth 2800-plus performance in a row. It was also a terrific performance from Caruana — the 19-year-old Italian-American has been increasingly impressive in the last year when he seems to have jumped a level. After the Tal Memorial, the live ratings are Carlsen (2837), Aronyan (2816). Kramnik (2799), Radjabov (2788), Anand (2780).
In the diagram, BLACK TO PLAY (Aronian Vs Caruana, 7th Tal Memorial 2012) , Black must take 19...Bxc3 20.Qxc3 Qxe4+ 21.Bd3 Qxf4 and hope to defend. Caruana ducked with 19...Qe8? 20.Qh4 Bf6. Now 20. - Bxc3 21. bxc3 Qxe4+ 22. Bd3 Qe8 23. Rhe1 Qf8 24. Re7 with Ng5/ Bc4 to come is horrible.
21.Ng5 Nf8 22.Bc4! Kg7 23.Qg3 Bxg5 24.fxg5 Be6 25.Nd5 Bxd5 26.Bxd5 Rd7 27.h4 White is winning. The bishop is dominant and the pawnstorm unstoppable. White will double on the f-file and slam through.
27...Rc8 28.a3 Qd8 29.Qf2 Ne6 30.Ka2 Qe7 31.Rhf1 b5 32.Rd3 Rcc7 33.Kb1 a5 34.g4 a4 35.Rf3 Qd6 36.Rf6 Qc5 37.Qg3! b4 Aronyan squelches this desperate try 38.axb4 Qc2+ 39.Ka1 a3 40.bxa3 Rxd5 41.exd5 Nd4 42.Rxf7+! An exchange combination. 42...Rxf7 43.Qe5+ Kf8 44.Qb8+ Kg7 45.Rxf7+ Kxf7 46.Qxb7+ Ke8 47.Qb8+ Kd7 48.Qa7+ Kd6 49.Qxd4. There’s no perpetual 49...Qc1+ 50.Ka2 Qc2+ 51.Qb2 Qc4+ 52.Ka1 Qxg4 53.Qf2 Kxd5 54.Qc5+ (1-0).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player