Topalov zugzwangs Aronian in a clever ending. Svidler earns a solid draw against Leko. Bacrot has an elegant finish against Vallejo. Ivanchuk loses his way in time trouble against Radjabov.
Topalov – Aronian
In a Kasparov system of the Nimzo Indian, Aronian grabs the initiative by holding the White king in the centre, but a rapid exchange of queens puts both players into a double rook and minor piece endgame. Topalov slowly improves his position, and starts to take a slight edge, playing against Aronian’s weak c4-pawn.
The opposite coloured bishops with a single rook give Topalov attacking chances. He takes control of the kingside space with a combined advance of all his kingside pawns, whilst prenting Aronian from counter attacking down the queenside. Topalov’s bishop is the stronger of the two. With a delicate manoeuvring, Topalov eeks out a passed e-pawn whilst weakening Black’s kingside. Aronian’s rook enters the White position, but has no real targets or weaknesses to play against.
After a long manoeuvere, Topalov gets his king into the Black queenside, and captures all the queenside pawns, leaving him a pawn up. Topalov then switches to a plan of queening his extra c-pawn as well as attacking the Black king, and finishes off with a simple, but elegant zugzwang, where Aronian resigns.
Ivanchuk – Radjabov
In a Classical King’s Indian, Ivanchuk finds his position under pressure from an early stage, and Black quickly gains an edge. Ivanchuk battles back and the game is balanced on a knife edge. Ivanchuk manoeuvres better than Radjabov, but Radjabov holds the position solidly. Ivanchuk presses his advantages but blunders in time trouble, giving the initiative and a dangerous passed d-pawn to Radjabov. After a series of cuts and blows Radjabov is on top, with a material advantage. Ivanchuk resigns shortly after reaching time control.
Leko – Svidler
Leko adopts an English Attack against Svidler’s Scheveningen Sicilian. He gets the kingside pawns rapidly up the board, while Svidler is generating some counterplay on the queenside. Leko’s knight retreat on the queenside hands a slight advantage to Black, and Svidler uses that to take control of the centre with an f7-f5 pawn break. After opening the centre with a …d5 break, Svidler unleashes a short tactical sequence that resolves the game into a balanced position, at which point a draw is agreed.
Vallejo – Bacrot
Bacrot plays a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, where Vallejo temporarily sacrifices a pawn to get his knights into good positions. Vallejo gets a little too aggressive and initiates a pawn storm on the kingside, and later castles into that weakened position. Bacrot’s pieces naturally infiltrate the weakened kingside squares forcing Vallejo into a awkward rook manoeuvre that fails to hold his position together. Bacrot finishes the game elegantly by tieing up his opponent’s pieces.