The Tal memorial in Moscow was just finished to-day, and it has made some movements in the top of the live list on the chess ratings. And the most important for us in Norway is that our boy Magnus Carlsen again is number one!
Carlsen was feeling ill at the start of the tournament, and didn’t do very well from the beginning with 7 straight draws. Some of them was also a bit disappointing, and didn’t show Carlsen in the fighting mood we are used to see him, and like him the best. But in the eight round he wrapped up a tremendous win against the Ukrainian Ponomariov. I guess it was more than me who got amazed by his opening preparation in that game, just to learn that it actually wasn’t opening preparation. It was over the board moves.
In the last round he had black with the usually rock solid Peter Leko from Hungary, a player I guess Carlsen never has beaten with black. On the contrary he often get into trouble against him, like in the last super tournament in Nanjing, China, where Carlsen just about outplayed any other player – but Leko with black. The game started with an aggressive Carlsen starting out with the Najdorf, but it looked like it was Leko who had the chances in the middle game. Then pieces were exchanged, and it looked like they were heading for an endgame just about equal. And chess history ut to now has proved that you don’t beat Leko in a just about equal endgame. I think it was more a little drop of concentration from Leko, than any brilliance from Carlsen, that gave the young Norwegian some chances. But when the chances came, he stroke, and left Leko no hope to survive.
The other games to-day were also exciting, with Aronian beating Anand in 25 moves with black. Crushing is perhaps a better word than beating, Anand went down like I could have done it myself against a top class player. My favourite Ivanchuk was also pressing very hard against Kramni, and deserved the win in that game. But Kramnik has shown the best chess during the tournament, with fighting games and spectacular moves in every round, so he deserved the win of the tournament this time. Carlsen and Ivanchuk shared second.
To morrow is the world championship in blitz, and it will be exciting to see how all the participants will prove their skills there. Carlsen is for now number one in classical chess. Let’s hope he will get the title also in blitz! It will be an amazing achievment from an 18-year-old.