Kramnik produces a majestic positional performance against Anand – and duly converts a superior endgame. Shirov suffers another loss, this time at the hands of Karjakin. Motylev and Carlsen go all-in for a no-holds barred slugfest – with sacrificial play by both sides. Aronian’s pawn-sacrifice backfires, but Svidler gets his rook trapped to end things all square. Radjabov’s flurry of opening activity gives him an easy half-point against Ponomariov. Navara, a pawn down, defends solidly against Topalov. Van Wely and Tiviakov draw quickly.
Kramnik – Anand
Anand ventures into Kramnik’s speciality Catalan, adopting the same unorthodox queenside development as he did against Ponomariov in the first round. Kramnik deviates with 16. a3, a semi-waiting move improvement that demonstrates Black has no constructive moves in the position. With 18. Qf1 White consolidates his position, and starts to capitalise on his initiative. Kramnik prevents Anand from playing …c5, and so Anand is prevented from developing his major pieces. After attempting to equalise with 19… e5 Anand finds Kramnik seizing the centre with his own central pawn advance. Anand concedes the d-file (thanks to the strong white bishop on a5), and once Kramnik’s queen enters Black’s position on the eighth rank, the result is almost a forgone conclusion. Kramnik converts the position into a superior endgame with his two bishops, and teaches Anand (and the watching crowd) some perfect endgame play.
Karjakin – Shirov
Out of a Sicilian Sveshnikov Shirov finds himself in a spot of trouble after being too lax on the queenside, allowing Karjakin a dangerous outside passed pawn. Shirov throws his pieces into a desperate kingside attack, and Karjakin defends solidly after Shirov offers a dubious piece sacrifice. Karjakin’s confident play consolidates the full point.
Motylev – Carlsen
Motylev and Carlsen play a Four Knights Defence, pretty rare at modern super GM level. with Carlsen sacrificing a pawn. Carlsen offers a piece on his eighth move (8… c6) but Motylev declines, preferring to castle his king into safety than be trapped in the centre. The opening sees Carlsen have sufficient compensation for the pawn, and gains an edge with a strongly centralised queen, hampering White’s development. That advantage evaporates when Carlsen tries to open the f-file with 13. f6, giving White a dangerous passed pawn. Motylev claws his way back into the game, sacrificing the exchange (by starting off with a pseudo-sacrifice of his queen with 30. cxd5). Another startling piece sacrifice secures Motylev a half-point as the game wends its way into a balanced endgame.
Svidler – Aronian
Svidler sidesteps a potential Marshall Gambit, and Aronian equalises rather quickly after rapid queenside expansion. Aronian sacrifices a pawn for more active play, but decides for the exchange of queens. Svidler grabs the offered pawn and builds on his advantage. Aronian locks out one the White rooks deep in his own position, gaining compensation for the two-pawn deficit, as Svidler is forced to sacrifice the exchange. Svidler has a slight advantage in the endgame, but calls it a day by sharing the spoils with Aronian.
Radjabov – Ponomariov
Ponomariov plays a sideline in a Queen’s Indian, and Radjabov sacrifices a pawn to grab the initiative. He regains the pawn rather quickly, and his super-active knights give him a strong edge. After playing a second-best continuation, Radjabov is satisfied to split the point with Ponomariov after 17 moves.
Topalov – Navara
Topalov allows a Nimzo-Indian (by transposition from an English Opening) and is saddled with doubled isolated pawns. But Topalov quickly repairs the damaged pawn-structure, and gains the two bishops. Navara’s pressure compels Topalov to exchange off the minor pieces and head into a major pieces endgame, but Navara confidently holds the endgame with the pawn deficit.
van Wely – Tiviakov
Neither player makes an impression in a reversed Sicilian Dragon.