Added on 3/12/2018

This week I’ll have a report on the Tal Memorial Rapid and Blitz tournament, but first let me wrap the Aeroflot Open.


Vladislav Kovalev - Photo by Niklesh Jain

24-year-old Belarussian GM Vladislav Kovalev emerged as the clear winner with 7/9, followed by the Indian Sethuraman and the young Russian Gordievsky at 6.5.  It was a tournament where a lot of the top seeds took it on the chin, as you might expect in Russia.  The win that catapulted Kovalev to first place came in the penultimate round against a player we profiled for knocking off Fedoseev earlier in the tournament.  Here the young Iranian Tabatabaei seemed outsmarted in the opening and had to play catch up:

IM Amin Tabatabei (Iran)

The Tal Memorial brought together many of the world’s elite players, with a little more emphasis on Russian players than most top level events.  Vishy Anand continues to defy the aging process, taking first place in the rapid portion with 6/9. 

Anand, victorious at the Tal Memorial Rapid

His signature win featured a stunning combination against Alexander Grischuk, not very complicated but quite beautiful:

Daniil Dubov got one of his first tests at the elite level and acquitted himself well, especially in this fascinating win over fast chess specialist Hikaru Nakamura.

GM Daniil Dubov

GM Karjakin won the Blitz leg of the Tal Memorial

Sergey Karjakin won the blitz portion handily with a score of 10/13, a point and a half clear of Hikaru Nakamura.  Blitz games are going to have their share of errors, even at the elite level, but I would like to show a couple of games that got my attention.  First a sharp battle between Grischuk and Kramnik that shows the seesaw nature of many of these games.

Finally, I want to delve into something up my alley, a liquidation into an unusual pawn ending:

Several of the Tal participants have moved on to the Candidates tournament.  Round three is going on as we record this; Mamedyarov, Kramnik, and Caruana have each gotten off to a 1.5/2 start.  ICC will have video recaps of the action from Berlin.  I’ll be doing the show on Sunday, March 25th.