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The Tal Memorial has seen very hard-fought games including a few productions that looked absolutely insane at first or even second glance. First Radjabov and then Morozevich led. After six rounds, Moro and Kramnik share 1-2 with four points each. Carlsen, Radjabov and Caruana share 3-5 spots with 3.5 points each.
Nakamura is at 50 per cent and Aronyan, Grischuk, McShane and Tomashevsky all have minus scores. Carlsen and Kramnik are unbeaten. Given Aronyan's poor form and Kramnik's excellent performance, the Russian GM could overtake the Armenian in the next rating list.
There have been few short draws and 14 of the 30 games played so far have been decisive. Several draws have been extraordinary knife-edge encounters. In terms of quality, the play has been high-intensity and high error, rather than tending to perfection.
Some opening choices have involved novelties in the first ten moves, which is very unusual. Among other interesting lines, the Sicilian Rossolimo position which was first seen in the Anand-Gelfand match has been explored here in greater detail. Quite a few of the positions have been absolutely bizarre and not susceptible to normal analysis. Kasparov apparently kibitzed Carlsen-Grischuk (Draw by repetition with many pieces hanging) and categorised it as “ very strange”.
The high decision ratio and the combative play is probably as much to do with the temperament of the field as with the ban on draw offers till move 40. Aronyan, Carlsen, Moro, Grischuk, McShane and
Nakamura are all inveterate risk-takers. As things stand, the placings are wide open. Any of the top five could challenge for first place.
An amazing opening idea was unveiled in the diagram, BLACK TO PLAY , (Aronian Vs McShane Tal Memorial 2012) which arose after 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 a6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.a4 h6 7.Bh4 – Diagram - b5!!? Offers the exchange which white takes after 8.axb5 cxb5 9.Nxb5 [axb5 10.Rxa8 Bb7 11.Ra1 g5 12.Bg3 e6 The single point agenda of 7.- b5 is Bb4+ to displace white's king. Is it enough? Seems that way but black is an exchange down.
Play continued 13.e3 Bb4+ 14.Ke2 Nc6 15.Ne1 Na5 16.Be5 0–0 17.h4 g4 18.Nc2 Be7 19.Ke1 Nb3 20.Ra2 h5 21.Be2 Bd6! After the Be5 is exchanged, white has no activity. The vanilla continuation 22.Bxd6 Qxd6 23.Kf1 Ne4 will just leave black with a huge initiative.
22.f3 Nd5 23.fxg4 Bxe5 24.dxe5 Qb6 25.Bf3 Nxe3 26.Nxe3 Qxe3+ 27.Qe2 Qc1+ 28.Qd1 Qe3+ 29.Qe2 Qc1+ 30.Qd1 Bxf3 31.gxf3 Qe3+ 32.Qe2 Qc1+ 33.Qd1 Qe3+ 34.Qe2 Qf4 35.Qh2 Qxf3 36.Rf1 Qe4+ 37.Kf2 Nd2 38.Rg1 Qf3+ (0–1). Now 39.Ke1 Qe3+ 40.Kd1 Nb3 41. gxh5+ Kh8 will be followed by Rd8, or a Q+Kt mating attack.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player