Topalov drives Anand’s novelty and position into the ground. Aronian’s unorthodox play and superb endgame skills depose Radjabov. Shirov disappoints against Tiviakov, extracting a draw from a winning position. Motylev throws caution to the wind, and Svidler wins the battle of aggression. Navara fails at the point of victory, allowing Karjakin to extricate himself into a win. Van Wely’s unambitious approach allows Ponomariov to turn the tables and gain a draw.
Topalov – Anand
The game follows Topalov’s game against Aronian from last year’s Wijk aan Zee, where Topalov unleashed a massive novelty to win. Anand deviates with 16… dxe4, and follows up with an enterprising sacrifice to disrupt White’s initiative. Topalov emerges with two pieces against a rook, and plays the middlegame with high precision (19. b4!), thwarting Anand’s constricting play. Topalov exposes Anand’s weak central position with 21. f3. Anand resigns in a miserable position devoid of any activity.
Radjabov – Aronian
Radjabov stumbles against Aronian’s Ragozin defence against his Queen’s Gambit, allowing Aronian’s enterprising follow-up to take the initiative. A desperado gives Aronian a strong edge. Radjabov fights a long defence, but Aronian keeps the upper-hand right into the knight endgame. Aronian’s deft play in the endgame secures victory.
Shirov – Tiviakov
Shirov opts for the Maroczy bind against Tiviakov’s Accelerated Dragon, and Tiviakov’s strategy of exchanges allows Shirov to lock the Black king in the centre, giving him a large advantage. Shirov sacrifices a piece to disrupt Black’s pieces and win an exchange. Tiviakov uses his a-pawn to gain compensation, and Shirov gives back the exchange, losing his strong advantage, pushing the game back into balance.
Motylev – Svidler
Motylev’s unusual 3. f3 doesn’t deter Svidler’s Grunfeld, but his queenside castling throws caution to the wind, exploding the game into life. Svidler neuters White’s centre, and sacrifices a piece to open queenside files against the White king. Motylev returns an exchange but Svidler’s activity down the a-file keeps the initiative as he emerges a pawn up. Motylev can’t reduce Black’s activity, and resigns.
Karjakin – Navara
Navara’s has no problems against Karjakin’s Anti-Marshall, and emerges from the Giucco Pianissmo like position with an edge. Navara improves his position to dominating proportions. But in a spectacular reversal of fortune, Navara blunders into a lost position which Karjakin converts into a winning endgame thanks to some useful backrank mating threats.
van Wely – Ponomariov
Ponomariov chooses a rare sequence of opening moves (3… Nc6) against van Wely’s Queen’s Gambit. The position resembles the Queen’s Indian, and van Wely emerges with an edge. Van Wely annexes a pawn, but plays unambitiously, allowing Ponomariov to grab the initiative. Ponomariov’s minority attack on the kingside compels van Wely return his pawn and ditch another to clarify the position. Ponomariov is content to take the draw even though he has the upper hand.
Kramnik – Carlsen
Into Kramnik’s Catalan and Carlsen fights hard to keep his extra pawn on c4. Kramnik’s active response reclaims a pawn with a strong position, but his unambitious play allows Carlsen to rebalance the position.