A four-way tie for first place! Topalov grinds Leko in a typically aggressive endgame. Ivanchuk busts Vallejo quickly. Aronian is in vintage form, but Bacrot defends solidly for the draw. Radjabov sacrifices a piece to smash Svidler’s kingside, and mops up efficiently.
Topalov – Leko
Leko emerges from a Classical Nimzo-Indian with a slight advantage, and an easier game. This advantage disappears when he weakens his queenside pawns in an attempt to push White’s light-squared away from the Black position. In the endgame position, Topalov plays against Leko’s pawn weaknesses, and his kingside pawns prove to be the ideal weapon for obtaining the decisive advantage. In a materially equal position, Topalov’s pieces co-ordinate better than Leko’s. His passed d-pawn is the critical factor, compelling Leko to give up his knight to remove it from the board. Topalov steadily increases his advantage, and finally Leko resigns.
Ivanchuk – Vallejo
Ivanchuk plays an imaginative attack against Vallejo’s Botvinnik Semi-Slav, forcing the Black king into the open. In the storm of tactics Vallejo goes wrong, and finds himself defenceless, and so resigns.
Aronian – Bacrot
Aronian plays the Queen’s Gambit Accepted in vintage style, with a cascade of temporary sacrifices and threats, keeping Bacrot on his toes. Aronian has an aggressive edge, but Bacrot whittles it down to the minimum. Bacrot keeps his head in the balanced rook and pawns endgame to secure a draw.
Radjabov – Svidler
In a typical Queen’s Gambit Accepted isolated pawn position, Radjaboc sacrifices a piece to open up the position around Svidler’s king. This is followed by an exchange sacrifice, which is quickly recouped. This leaves Radjabov with three pawns for the sacrificed piece, and some seriously active pieces. Svidler tries to claw his way back into the game, but cannot fend off White’s superior activity, which pushes onward to a decisive finish.