I.ve had a few quiet weeks after the tournament in Biel, but now the busy fall season starts with The Botvinnik Memorial. During the late summer break I spent some time at home in Oslo and a week of training in Marbella, Spain.
Moscow is also showing itself from its best side. The weather is beautiful, and the players are generously hosted at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel, next to Kremlin. Today was quite busy. Both the press conference and the opening ceremony took place before the first round. It felt a little strange not to know whom I was playing until the drawing of lots took place half an hour before the first game. This tournament is most of all about honouring the memory of the legendary Mikhail Botvinnik, the former World Champion and the patriarch would have turned hundred this year. Botvinnik is one of the greatest chess players of all time, and he was also a pioneer in his scientific approach to the game. In that sense, The Centre of New Technologies was a nice choice of venue for the tournament.
The actual tournament is a rapid tournament and has a section for men and a section for women. Both a double round robin with four players, six rounds all together. The men's section has the four highest rated players in the world. Having three players above 2800 in the same tournament I believe has only happened once before (Nanjing 2010). The three first rounds were played today, and the next three rounds will be played tomorrow.
In the first round I was paired with the world number three, Levon Aronian from Armenia. He got a slight pressure from the opening, but not too much was going on until he too optimistically pushed with f5 and f6. After some nice tactics, I got a completely winning position, but I played a little carelessly and he somehow found a way to draw. In second round, I had white against the former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. I think I played quite interesting in the opening, but Kramnik introduced an inventive piece sacrifice yielding two pawns and a dangerous lead in development. I still thought my changes were good, but a draw was probably a fair result.
In third round I was black against the current World Champion, Vishy Anand, usually a very tough task. This time somehow I got a promising position right from the start. He continued to play some strange moves, and at one point I got a technical winning position. Again I failed to take advantage. Missing a simple tactic I allowed him to level the position, and disheartened I offered a draw. He promptly accepted.
Even if three draws are slightly disappointing, I think the games have been very interesting. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and being half a point behind leader Anand, I think I still have a chance.
Victoria Cmilyte is leading the female section, but it's close as in our tournament.
Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, September 2nd, 2011