Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kramnik Tops Tal Memorial, Carlsen Leads FIDE Ratings

Monday November 16, 2009

Vladimir Kramnik may be best known for his solid play, but he's certainly capable of winning a game or two when the need arises. In the case of the Tal Memorial, he won three, which was just enough to take clear first in what was likely the strongest tournament of 2009. Kramnik finished with a 6.0/9 score, a half-point ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Vassily Ivanchuk.

There was a fair amount of drama heading into the final round, as Ivanchuk and Viswananthan Anand each trailed Kramnik by just a half point, and Ivanchuk had White against Kramnik. Anand took himself out of contention by losing to Levon Aronian with the white pieces in just 25 moves. Ivanchuk managed to get an advantage against Kramnik, but couldn't find a way to convert it, leading to an agreed draw after 29 moves, and a tournament win for Kramnik.

The other big winner was Magnus Carlsen, who recovered from being sick earlier in the tournament to finish strong with two victories in the final two rounds (over Ruslan Ponomariov and Peter Leko). Before the tournament, it was believed that a +2 score by Carlsen would be enough to overtake Veselin Topalov (who did not play in Moscow) as the number one player in the world. Sure enough, the live rating list now has him .6 points ahead of Topalov; if these ratings hold until January, Carlsen would appear on the next FIDE list at 2806, and Topalov at 2805. However, Carlsen will be playing in London next month, so it remains to be seen who will top the first official ratings list of 2010.


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