Kamsky’s hot streak continues as he smashed Svidler’s insipid play. Ponomariov stumbles into a strategic error and is duly dispatched by Anand. Topalov fights to equality against Bacrot.
Kamsky – Svidler
Out of a Classical Scheveningen Sicilian, Svidler provokes white with an …e5 thrust, saddling himself with a small hanging pawn centre. Svidler tries to regroup his minor pieces but Kamsky surprises with a typical pseudo-sacrifice of the knight on d5. Svidler blunders in the coming tactics, and Kamsky presses home the attack by sacrificing a further exchange. Kamsky nets the whole point with a clever bishop manoeuvre.
Anand – Ponomariov
Ponomariov equalises quickly in a Classical Caro-Kann, and the game heads towards a sterile endgame. Ponomariov stumbles into a strategic mistake in exchanging off his good bishop for Anand’s knight. This opens up the d-file. Anand wastes no time in entering the Black position with his rooks. Anand’s bishop proves far more useful in the semi-closed nature of the position, and engineers a breakthrough on the queenside. Black’s counterplay is lacking, and not enough to defuse the danger. Just after time control the game is decided when White’s passed pawns cannot be stopped.
Bacrot – Topalov
Bacrot allows a Nimzo-Indian, and heads towards a Kasparov system. Topalov unveils an original manoeuvre, bringing his a5-placed queen to a6 to pressure the c4-pawn. Although White holds a slender advantage, it is Topalov that’s directing play, aiming against the weakened c4-pawn. Bacrot keeps his head and simplifies leading to a barren opposite colour endgame.