THE Tal Memorial in Moscow has taken a strange twist with three successive rounds of draws, but, thankfully, just about all of these games have proved highly entertaining and hard-fought.
The one exception has been the tepid performance from world champion Viswanathan Anand, who is being criticised by many fans and pundits alike for another lacklustre performance in a major event.
Anand was the subject recently of withering criticism from his old foe and former world champion, Garry Kasparov, who described his third place in the recent Grand Slam Final as “disgraceful” and wondered whether Anand was “already counting the days until he collects his paycheck against [Boris] Gelfand.”
It is not in Anand’s nature to respond to such personal attacks, and he’s probably the first to agree that his recent tournament record has been modest. However, at 41 now and with a title defence every second year requiring at least six months of intense preparation with his team of seconds, Anand feels he has mitigating circumstances and should not be expected to bust a gut to keep pace with the likes of the hyper-active Magnus Carlsen.
Not all the draws in Moscow have been marathons: one in particular, between Russians Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler, although being short in nature, nevertheless proved to be entertaining.
Amidst the king hunt, Svidler believed he was simply winning but had overlooked Karjakin’s 22 Qg7 and was forced into his only bail-out option with 22...Bf3! to stop the mate.
S Karjakin - P Svidler
6th Tal Memorial, (5)
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Nf6 6 0-0 e5 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6 9 Nf5 g6 10 Ne3 Bc5 11 Nc3 d6 12 Ncd5 Qd8 13 c3 Be6 14 Bc2 0-0 15 Ng4 Nd7 16 Nxh6+ Kg7 17 Nf5+ gxf5 18 exf5 Bxd5 19 Qg4+ Kh6 20 Qh3+ Kg5 21 Qg3+ Kh5 22 Qg7 Bf3! 23 Qh7+ Kg5 24 Qg7+ Kh5 25 Qh7+ Kg5 26 Qg7+ Kh5 draw by repetition