What a crazy event the 2012 Tal Memorial was! It seemed that practically the whole field led at one moment or another, and by the end the only predictor of success was playing against one of the leaders. Alexander Morozevich and Vladimir Kramnik both collapsed at the end of the tournament, and they were replaced by Fabiano Caruana going into the last round just in time for him to lose to Levon Aronian.
The event was so topsy-turvy that Luke McShane, the lowest-rated player and until the last couple of rounds mired in either last or next to last (where he finished), would have WON the tournament on tiebreaks had he beaten Magnus Carlsen! McShane's play was uncharacteristically solid in this last game, but having ceded the initiative to Carlsen when the latter played 21...a5 he went for a positionally unjustified attack in pending time trouble with 27.Rde1? Carlsen took the material, beat off the attack, and collected the point and tournament victory once the players passed the time control on move 40.
Caruana would have clinched first place on tiebreaks with a draw, no matter what happened in the other games, but with Black even against a somewhat out of form Aronian that was not a guaranteed result. Aronian chose the 3.f3 Anti-Gruenfeld line that gave Boris Gelfand some trouble in a couple of games with Viswanathan Anand in their world championship match, and it looks like there's plenty of scope here to keep causing Black some trouble. Caruana's preparation was insufficiently broad, and Aronian acquired a significant advantage by the opening's end.
The other three games were drawn: Hikaru Nakamura didn't manage to get anything from a Rossolimo Sicilian against Teimour Radjabov and was even a little worse, but Radjabov preferred to play solidly than take serious risks and the game finished peacefully. Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Morozevich were not discouraged by their failures the last few rounds and played a long, hard-fought game. Kramnik had some chances to win - as he did in many games in the event - but couldn't bring home the full point. Finally, Alexander Grischuk had good winning chances with Black in a Saemisch King's Indian against Evgeny Tomashevsky, but the former's extra pawn proved insufficient for more than the more pleasant side of a draw.
- 1. Carlsen 5.5 (out of 9)
- 2-3. Caruana, Radjabov 5 (in that order, on tiebreaks; likewise for the next two score groups)
- 4-7. Kramnik, Morozevich, Aronian, Grischuk 4.5
- 8-9. McShane, Nakamura 4
- 10. Tomashevsky 3.5