Taking a look at an emerging superstar

Mikhail Tal was probably the most aggressive and, for that matter, the most colorful world champion in the history of chess. His approach to the game apparently was first to look for attacking moves and take substantial risks whenever there was a prospect of an open game. The Tal Memorial, held in Moscow, celebrates his memory. In the process, it has become apparent that we are witnessing the emergence of a new superstar, 21-year-old Magnus Carlsen of Norway. In this year’s Tal Memorial he caught Levon Aronian the last round and scored his first victory in this great tournament. Third place went to Vassily Ivanchuk. Carlsen finished ahead of world champion Viswanathan Anand of India (seventh) and Anand’s current challenger, Boris Gelfand of Israel (ninth). In the last round, Aronian, who was co-winner last year with Hungarian Peter Leko and Russian Ruslan Ponomariov, withstood an intense attack by Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia to draw and tie for first.

Carlsen, in the last round, scored yet another win against America’s pride Hikaru Nakamura, whom he has generally dominated in recent tournaments. Carlsen, playing Black in a Queen’s Indian, exhibited a quiet and conservative opening. However, his 16th move was a credit to the memory of Tal. Carlsen opened up his king’s knight file to force the gain of a pawn, a maneuver that is rarely tried by even the finest of grandmasters. However, Carlsen also had the edge in development and Nakamura, noted for his attacking prowess, was unable to acquire access to Black’s monarch. Carlsen forced the exchange of queens, and won in a difficult opposite color bishops ending. This left Nakamura with only 3 points, 2.5 behind the leaders and in last place. Many of the players are moving on to the London Chess Classic, where Nakamura will try again.

Elsewhere in the chess world, the current women’s world champ, 17-year-old Hou Yifan of China, defended her title against Humpy Koneru of India in a 10 game match by a convincing score of 5.5 -2.5. The match was held in Tirana, Albania, from Nov. 14 to Nov. 26. Yifan won three games and lost none. One of her games was won following a visit to the hospital the night before for stomach pains. No physical problem was found. One aspect of the play was that the players experimented in a number of games with the Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. A large volume, which investigates this defense in detail, has just been published on this subject. It is the “Ragozin Complex,’’ by Vladimir Barsky. This match and book will no doubt revive interest in this fascinating defense.


Brevity: L. Eisen v. C. Boor (1999) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 Be7 7.Re1 f5 8.d5 Nb8 9.Nxe5 0-0 10.d6 Bxd6 11.Qd5+ Kh8 12.Nf7+ Rxf7 13.Qxf7 Bxh2+ 14.Kf1 d5 15.Bg5 Qg8 16.Qxg8+ Kxg8 17.g3 Kf7 18.Bf4 c5 19.c3; 1-0. (The bishop on h2 is trapped which will leave White a rook up.)

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Winners: 2011 K-12 Nationals; Grade. 8: 1st, Mika Brattain, Lexington, 6.5-.5; Grade 6; 2d, Andrew Liu, Westborough, 5-1: Boylston Greg Hager Memorial. 1st-2d, Christopher Chase and Evan Rubin; 3d-4th Max Liu and Nithin Kavi.

Coming Events: Harry Lyman Memorial, Boylston CC, 240B Elm Street, Somerville;; CMC Sat. Night Action Chess, 201 Wayland Ave., Providence,, both Dec. 17.