Levon Aronyan, Sergei Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedaryov made it a photo-finish at the Tal Memorial by each scoring 5.5 points from 9 games. Grischuk, Wang Hao and Nakamura all managed 5 points while Kramnik (.4.5) ended at 50 per cent. Gelfand, Shirov and Eljanov had minus scores. It was hard-fought with 17 decisive games from 45. It's noteworthy that every player in the 2757 field scored at least one win.
Aronyan and Karjakin were dead-equal using three different tiebreaks (!). They were declared joint winners with “Shakh” third. Mamedaryov (+3,-1,=5) was favourite going into the last round. His loss to Gelfand let Aronyan and Karjakin catch up. It may be noted that the Azeri GM would have won with Bilbao scoring.
The Tal Memorial was, as always, followed by the VI monster World Blitz Championship, which is played at 3 minutes +2 seconds increment per move. The final is a 20-player mini-match round robin. The lowest rated was Boris Shavchenko (2632) and 16 players were 2700+. Carlsen was favourite on rating and rep.
Aronyan won with 24.5 (+20, =9, -9) ahead of Radjabov (24), Carlsen (23.5), Nakamura (21.5) Gelfand (21.5), etc. The video coverage was extraordinary with perfect ringside views of positions, facial tics and nervous fumbles. Anybody who thinks chess is slow, should check out the archives at http://video.russiachess.org .
The Asiad is also on. It started with two 9-round Swiss individual rapids. That is followed by a standard team event. Kasimdzhanov and Le Quang Liem shared the men's rapid (7.5 points each) while Bu Xiangzhi and Murtaza Kazhgaleyev shared 3-4 on 6.5. Ganguly was the best Indian performer on 6.
In the women’s event, Hou Yifan (8.5) ran away while Zhao Xue (7.5) took silver and Harika (6.5) bronze. In the teams championship, both Indian squads harbour genuine medal hopes but PRC would of course, be top favourites. Both Indian teams started with first round wins.
The diagram White to Play (Karjakin Vs Kramnik, Tal Memorial 2010) is a modern classic despite one inaccuracy from the winner. 19.f5! Bxg5 20.fxg6 Rxe3 21.gxf7+?. The engines say 21. Qxc4 is better with a winning attack after 21.--Bxh4 22. Bxd3.
Play continued 21...Kf8 22.Qxc4 Rxe2? Black might defend with 22. --Bxh4 23. Bxd3 Bf6. Though it’s unpleasant he can fight for Qd4. 23.hxg5 Qxg5. Now white finishes with a deadly accurate sequence of 24.Qxd3 Qe3 25.Qh7 Qe4 26.Qg8+! Ke7 27.Qxg7 Qxc2+ 28.Ka1 Rf8 29.Rhf1 Rd2 30.Rfe1+ Re2 31.Qc3! Kxf7 32.Qf3 + (1-0). One lacks the space to annotate moves 24-32 but it’s worth an hour’s study. This is a great exploitation of an exposed king with heavy pieces. Black never gets enough counter-play but superb calculation is required to ensure that.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally-rated chess and correspondence chess player