Tal-Memorial (3) (English)

Hikaru Nakamura

The Tal-Memorial is getting interesting! In the third round World Champion Anand scores his first victory against Morozevich, while Carlsen loses with the White pieces against Caruana. But the game of the day for me was the encounter between Nakamura and Karjakin. Take a look yourself:

As I am also mentioning in the video, Nakamura is pretty unpredictable. One could already call him playfully the new Ivanchuk, because of his inconsistent results. I remember the Fide Grand Prix last year in London, where he scored 4 points out of 11 rounds. This might be the detail, which still distinguishes him from the big guys Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian and Anand. If he can work on that, he definitely seems to be a candidate for fighting for the chess crown in the next couple of years.

Now let's take a look at the game Carlsen - Caruana. Carlsen loses suprisingly often with White. Actually, I looked it up, all the four games he lost this year, he lost with White! I can't really come up with any reasons. Maybe it is just a coincidence. Maybe he pushes too much with White, because this is the color with which you are supposed to get something out of the game. This might have happened today. Without a need he sacrificed (or maybe blundered) a pawn in an equal position. He later entered a rook endgame with a pawn down, which should be a theoretical draw, but practically it is always a different story. The critical position arose after the 48th move:

Carlsen - Karjakin Tal-Memorial

White to move

The White rook just came from b8 to give check on g8 and this is where he should have gone back now. After 49.Tb8 the draw can be achieved relatively easily. If Black plays Rxh4, then 50. Rxb6 Kg7 51.Kf5 and White should not have any problems obtaining the draw. Maybe more challenging is 49...Kg7, but after 50.Kf5 it is not clear how Black can make progress except for advancing his b-pawn. But this ultimately also doesn't lead him anywhere; White just has to make sure that his king reaches the square g2 or h2 in time, when the black pawn moves to b2.

Carlsen, however, played 49.Rf8 and now it gets more complicated. The game continued with Rxh4 50.Rxf7+ Kg6 51.Rf6+ Kxg5 and Carlsen had to find the right continuation in order to save the game:

White to move

Carlsen played the natural looking move 52.Rxb6, but now the position is lost. 52...Ra4 and the White king is cut off vertically from the bottom half of the board. After 53.Rb8 Kg4 Caruana slowly converted the position into a win. A draw could have been achieved by 52.Rf5+ Kg4 53.Ke4 Rh1 54.Rf4+ Kg3 55.Rf3+ Kg2 56.Rb3. The difference is now that Black can only cut off the king horizontally with Rf1, which is not as bad as a vertical cut off. After 57.Rxb6 h4 58.Rg6+ White will manage to save the game.

In the lead are now four players with two points: Caruana, Gelfand, Nakamura and Mamedyarov. The tournament website is unfortunately only in Russian, which is why I would refer to chessbase for results, games, photos etc.