2011 Tal Memorial
By Ben Finegold, Grandmaster, special to the Beacon
Posted 11:18 am Wed., 11.16.11

I am reporting from the 2011 Tal Memorial, held Nov. 16-26 in Moscow. I am also 10 hours later than my St. Louis readers, so that means I am reporting from the future!

The Tal Memorial is named after Mikhail Tal, the eighth World Chess Champion and a Soviet chess legend. This prestigious event features 10 players, all grandmasters, in a round-robin format, and this field is quite possibly the strongest of any tournament, ever.

The players in the event, and their rating/world rank according to FIDE, the World Chess Federation, are as follows:

  • Magnus Carlsen: 2826 (1)
  • Viswanathan Anand: 2811 (2)
  • Levon Aronian: 2802 (3)
  • Vladimir Kramnik: 2800 (4)
  • Vassily Ivanchuk: 2775 (6)
  • Sergey Karjakin: 2763 (8)
  • Hikaru Nakamura: 2758 (10)
  • Peter Svidler: 2755 (12)
  • Boris Gelfand: 2744 (14)
  • Ian Nepomniatchi: 2730 (20)

With seven of the top-10 players in the world, and three other very strong grandmasters, this tournament will present the biggest challenge yet for Nakamura, our hometown hero.

I am accompanying Nakamura to Moscow to serve as his second, which means I will help him research his opponents, examine their past games for strengths and weaknesses, and help him prepare lines of attack and defense for every conceivable eventuality.

Nakamura had the white pieces in round one against Gelfand, but after 34 moves, he had to settle for a peaceable draw.

The newest issue of New in Chess, arguably the world’s most-read chess magazine, had a breaking story about Nakamura and his recent partnership with chess legend GM Garry Kasparov. Nakamura has been taking some intensive training sessions with Kasparov, who is considered by many to be the best chess player in the history of the game.

In the final round, Nakamura has the white pieces against Carlsen, the highest-rated player in the world. Carlsen, 20, was a former pupil of Kasparov’s as well, and previous encounters between these two players indicate that this final round will see some fireworks.

The players are staying at the fabulous Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, not far from Red Square, and the playing hall is a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

Stay tuned for more updates from Moscow and to follow Nakamura’s results as he attempts to win what is arguably the strongest tournament ever organized.

Source: http://www.stlbeacon.org

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