Anand is the first off the mark with a win over Bacrot. Svidler holds the position against Topalov’s pressure.
One of the very interesting points in this tournament is that players cannot offer draws directly, they must do so via the arbiter. And that can only happen when there is a theoretically drawn position, repetition of position or perpetual check. This means games have to be played out with no baling out in complex unbalanced positions. That’s certainly going to take a heavy toll on nerves. All the players in this tournament are fighters, and not the type to bale out into sharing half-points, so the impact won’t be too great.
Bacrot – Anand
Bacrot adopts a Petrosian system to Anand’s Queens Indian, and manages to erect a big centre. Anand counters by a kingside wing advance attacking the defenders of White’s central pawns. After sacrificing a pawn, Anand sacrifices both rooks for the White Queen. In the resulting position, Anand’s queen outperforms Bacrot’s rooks, and forces the demolition of White’s pawn centre. The end result is that White can’t prevent the advance of Black’s passed pawns.
Svidler – Topalov
Svidler gets a little tangled up on the White side of an English Attack Sicilian Scheveningen, and is pressured to open the position with an f4-push. After neutralising White’s kingside potential, Topalov grabs the initiative and forces White to regroup awkwardly to hold back the threats. The position gradually unravels to a rook and opposite coloured bishops endgame, with Topalov on top, but Svidler defends stubbornly preventing a decisive entry of the Black rook.
Ponomariov – Kamsky
In an anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez, the e-file quickly gets opened and the rooks get chopped off. Ponomariov gets the better of the queen and minor piece endgame. But Kamsky reduces the position to pawns on one side of the board. The entry of the Black knight into White’s position engineers a repetition of position.