Sturm und Drang!
On the day of the third round thunder roared and lightning flashed above the capital. A true storm also swept across the stage of Pashkov House during the third round of the Tal Memorial… No, these guys don’t need any “Sofia Rules” in order to fling themselves at each other, but where do they get the energy? The replacement of November’s Anand, Ivanchuk and Gelfand with Morozevich, Grischuk and Caruana has clearly worked in the tournament’s favour – these are guys who will fight to the death!
The first day of the Tal Memorial was one of contrasts. The sea of fans and dull plot of the Anand-Gelfand match compared to the almost deserted Pashkov House with fireworks on the chessboard… Moreover, it’s not so much a matter of the abundance of decisive games – four is an extreme number for a Category 21 supertournament – as the insatiable desire the players showed simply to throw themselves at each other.
In his diary for “Soviet Sport” Russian team captain Evgeny Bareev related how Ian Nepomniachtchi was almost late for the match against China.
Harika Dronavilli has followed in the footsteps of Koneru Humpy to become India’s second woman with the full grandmaster title. Her draw against Anna Zatonskih in the final round of the tournament in Hangzhou was enough for her to claim a third GM norm.
20-year-old Harika’s talent and ambition have long been apparent. Back in 2005, when the 14-year-old won silver at the Asian Junior Girls Championship, she told an interviewer (see also the photos of Harika and her family):
After his Azerbaijan team drew 2-2 against Israel at the World Team Championship, the captain, Vladimir Tukmakov, tried to explain the reasons for their poor performance. He told 1news.az:
The fifth round of the supertournament in Biel saw an event we've already begun to consider a minor sensation - the defeat of Magnus Carlsen. The hero of the round was the young Frenchman, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who won the opening battle, forced the world's no. 1 rated player to switch to purely passive defence, and then finally, on the 96th move, sealed the win.
There were missed chances by both players, but Vachier-Lagrave's 78th move in the diagram position was a thing of wonder, and a sign that he certainly doesn't lack confidence:
photo: Levitov, with cup in hand, and team captain Evgeny Bareev stand over Sergey Karjakin (source)
The President of the Russian Chess Federation board, Ilya Levitov, wasn’t at all impressed by the Russian team’s win over Egypt in the fifth round. In an interview for Chess-News he stated:
At 09:00 CET the sixth round of the World Team Championship got under way in Ningbo, China. The most interesting encounter is between the Russian and Ukrainian teams, in particular Karjakin – Ivanchuk on board one. The leaders Armenia are playing India. Pentala Harikrishna played the Lasker Defence of the Queen’s Gambit against Levon Aronian, and on the 10th move the Armenian pushed his h2 pawn to h4 (which appears to be a novelty). Then on the next move he did the same thing with the g-pawn…