Tal Memorial 2018

The Tal Memorial. For some reasons the Russians decided to keep his memorial and not the Patriarch’s. They did have the odd Botvinnik and Petrosian memorials, but it is Tal who remained last man standing (a lot of puns intended there).

This year they mixed it up with rapid and blitz. Most probably so as not to tire their Candidates before Berlin. It’s a long walk from Moscow to Berlin, the Russians know it in their blood.

The rapid time control is best suited for aging intuitive players. Karpov beat Kasparov in a rapid match in 2002, when he was way past his prime while Garry was still around it. The rapid time control doesn’t tire the aging physique while at the same time allows enough time for precise short calculations that are required for confirmation of the intuitive solution. Blitz, on the other hand, is young men’s playground, where fast reactions and instincts come to the fore.

Having the above in mind it is not surprising that Anand won the rapid and Karjakin won the blitz.

Anand continues to impress. After turning 48 last December he won the World Rapid Championship and now he won the Tal Memorial with a full point advantage! Karpov was 51 when he beat Kasparov in New York in 2002, so Anand has at least several more years to delight us!

The following nice combination shows that everything is in order with Anand’s tactical alertness and his calculation of short variations.

This was the game that clinched Anand’s victory. It was played in Round 8 and after it he had a full point advantage over Mamedyarov, who was sharing a lead with him up to this point. With an easy draw in the last round Anand cruised to 6/9.

Generally speaking the Tal Memorial lived up to the name of the great man. There were plenty of flashy moves and crazy positions. Here’s a small selection.

This position arose in Dubov-Nepomniachtchi in the rapid. White got carried away with sacrifices, especially pawns, but ended up drawing this being a full rook down (Black queened the b-pawn but lost all the others, White lost the bishop but his g-pawn remained alive).

A similarly crazy position arose in the blitz. Black pawns galore.

This is from Nakamura-Kramnik. We usually say a rook is worth 5 pawns and a queen is worth 9 or 10. With that math in mind, Black has 11 pawns for White’s queen. But a queen is a queen and she won the game.

I think the most Tal-inspired moment happened in the blitz game Dubov-Anand.

For those of you who didn’t get the “hippo and mud” analogy, here’s what I was referring to.

I quite enjoyed following the tournament. It was very exciting and the games were entertaining. I am sure that the great Magician, wherever he may be right now, would have approved.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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