Radjabov and Topalov finish with a short, but exciting draw. Kramnik’s Pillsbury attack pays off handsomely as van Wely crumbles. Aronian’s deft touches registers a superb win over Tiviakov. Svidler’s suicidal play leads to a swift win for Karjakin. Carlsen and Shirov survive a see-saw encounter. Ponomariov survives a tense game against Motylev. Navara quickly equalises against Anand.
Kramnik – van Wely
Kramnik adopts a Pillsbury attack against van Wely’s solid Queen’s Gambit set-up, as both White knights harry the Black pieces. Kramnik pries open the f-file for his rook and van Wely fails to find the most active response. This leaves Kramnik building up threat after threat against the now stranded Black king. Kramnik sacrifices the exchange to open up the Black pawn structure. Once the kingside is demolished and Black’s counter-threats neutralised, the remaining White knight gallops in to secure the result.
Radjabov – Topalov
Topalov repeats the Catalan line that effectively lost him his FIDE title. He uncorks an improvement on move 19 that looks to free his d-pawn. After White’s best response, Topalov unleashes a startling queen sacrifice – looking to unbalance the position. Radjabov declines the sacrifice and in turn sacrifices a piece himself which propels the game to a repetition of position, and a draw.
Aronian – Tiviakov
Aronian plays into a Catalan against Tiviakov’s Queen’s Indian and sacrifices a pawn for better development. Tiviakov seems bewitched by Aronian’s carefree manoeuvres and sacrifices a rook to unleash a torrent of an attack against Aronian’s king. Aronian calmly centralises his king, and Black can do nothing to threaten it. Aronian’s extra piece pushes the game to its inevitable conclusion.
Svidler – Karjakin
Svidler temporarily sacrifices a pawn to open up Black’s queenside in a Sicilian Najdorf, allowing Karjakin to pull his major pieces to work on the open files against the White king. Svidler blunders horribly, allowing Black a prosaic deflection sacrifice that Svidler cannot afford to accept. Karjakin’s attack grows in ferocity, and Svidler is helpless to stem the tide. A confidence boosting win for Karjakin.
Carlsen – Shirov
Carlsen’s anaemic Anti-Marshall system leads to a balanced position. Through some elegant piece-play Shirov gains a significant advantage, but loses time pursuing a bad plan, and the advantage swings over to Carlsen, who fails to find a better continuation in his kingside attack. The advantage swings back to Shirov again, but he gets over-enthusiastic with a piece sacrifice, and has to defend an endgame of his two knights against Carlsen’s two bishops.
Ponomariov – Motylev
Motylev’s early knight exchange in the Semi Slav leaves Ponomariov with a strong bishop aimed at Black’s weak …c6 pawn, but Ponomariov continues developing slowly, allowing Black the freeing …c5 pawn thrust which still retains him a slight edge. Ponomariov’s advantage fizzles, and Motylev directs things towards an endgame by some tactical play. Ponomariov’s two pieces for the rook is offset by the fact that Black has powerful kingside pawns, including an outside passed pawn. Ponomariov manages to peg Black back, and earns a draw.
Anand – Navara
In a tepid Anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez, Navara’s energetic central pawn sacrifice forces rapid simplification, although Black has an initiative, the advantage is with White. But Black’s position is sound enough for the points to be split.