TAL MEMORIAL. SUMMARY
The contest that assembled the outstanding representatives of modern chess to commemorate the great player of the other epoch is over. It’s time to take a look at the event as a whole and give some evaluations of the course of fight and the tournament path of every player.
Let’s start from the winners, of course.
As many of the others, I was admired by Aronian’s fairy-like ascension some time ago. His creativity, subtle evaluation of the situation at the board and great feeling of dynamical opportunities of the position seems to make him a real star. And I am almost sure that most of the spectators wished a victory to him. I never did due to a traditional for evil chess dwarves enmity to any bright chess talent. I must say that in my understanding of the logic of chess tournament Aronian’s becoming one of the winners is perfectly logical. I should add that his becoming the only winner would have been even more natural outcome because it would have been … rather unfair. Let’s remember his performance. A brilliant beginning against Morozevich, I think the game can be one of the game to claim the Creativity prize. Well, the brilliance ended up the same day. The victories over Carlsen and Shirov can be explained only in terms of one side being doomed to win (I am not inclined to admire with a nice winning way in the latter game, two many studies are solved by a modern GM to be impressed). A slap-dash loss to Svidler, an assault on Leko deserved the same adjective and the same result. After an elegant avoiding Ponomariov’s heavy grip, two last rounds were not played at all. To my opinion, that’s the picture of a true champion. Chess is not only a board and pieces, folks. And once again I’d like to mention I like and I am impressed with the game Aronian-Morozevich very much.
Leko’s performance seems to me the mightiest in the tournament. He won the games not by catching the opponents in the very opening but slowly outplaying them in better positions. He had perfect chances against Aronian, that’s actually the decisive game to determine whether there would be a unique winner. He pressed Magnus, and it’s not everyday you see a situation when a half-stalemated opponent cannot be beaten. And we cannot skip the miraculous escape from a hopeless position against Grischuk. He held as long as he could and Grischuk could not finish him. The game could have changed Grischuk’s tournament destiny, but we shall return to it below. As for Leko, this small luck together with solid and professional performance in all the other games could give him all hopes to be a unique winner. But… a decisive game is a decisive one. We should not be surprised by his failure, as much as I remember Leko’s been declared a star just a little bit later than he learnt the rules, he can be called a veteran-star, while Aronian burst upon the Olympus just some couple of years ago and got his 2700+ the same time.
Ponomariov has some though little chess grounds to be somewhat discontent with his just sharing the first place. I like his performance. Professionalism, fighting spirit, universalism of chess skills characterize the ex-world-champion. All he got in the tournament is deserved. A non-persuasive win over Morozevich (if we remember how much he got from the opening) is compensated by missing good chances against Svidler. But it means he had no reasons to claim more. And when you get only what you deserved usually you don’t deserve a victory, sinister tournament logic. Thus sharing the first place by Ponomariov can be called lucky if we bear in mind he had no luck in this tournament.
Gelfand’s clear 4th place is fully deserved. This highly experienced and skillful chess-fighter shows once again he has all the right to have a place in the world elite reserved for him. His main strength is in the thorough homework, his opening erudition is immense and his analyses must be as deep as an abyss. Yet the fact that he always tries his best to cut short any game not following his preparation spoils the impression to some extent.
He players who shared places 5-7 with 50% performance came to the result quite different ways. Mamedyarov’s 9 draws in a row are something unbelievable. But if we take a look at the games we figure out it’s that very Mamedyarov we knew. With a creative and stubborn defence he avoided a couple of chesswise deserved losses. Perhaps the problem is he could not pose any opening problems with white to his opponents. And it’s a common case that when you can’t start winning in the beginning of the tournament, you can’t start winning at all.
Grischuk is the one who can be utmostly discontent with the results of the tournament. His hard work when preparing to the tournament is obvious, but he always lacked but a little more to reach success in the beginning of the tournament. I believe if he had managed to drive the game against Leko to the only result that seemed logical, the tournament might have got quite a different course. Yet although this game cannot pretend to a prize because of way it ended, the game against Shirov is a true masterpiece. However, to call the game the best in Grischuk’s career would be an exaggeration.
Svidler’s performance is surprisingly unpersuasive. A latent creative might hides in his moves, that’s obvious. But what is not obvious is why it kept hiding till the end of the tournament. Peter so many times indirectly confirmed his having high ambitions (by direct saying he has none, it’s the best confirmation!) that it’s hard to explain his lack of aggression at the board that we, his humble fans, expect from him. Having been a star for almost 20 years, Peter seems to acquire too much class and this strength is a heavy burden.
Of the rest players I shall not tell much.
Magnus’ performance can be considered a success. By the end of the tournament he seemed to adapt and hold the tension successfully.
As to Shirov and Morozevich’s unlucky performance, I dare say the reasons must be hiding somewhere in the subtle ether tissues of the universe and I am sure they’d tell more than me on this matter.
In general, I’d like to say the tournament is remarkable chesswise and tense fight could be seen in many games. Some colourless draws to my opinion only confirm the tension of the tournament struggle.