Morelia/Linares 2008 Round 5 – Carlsen forces Topalov’s surrender, Anand overcomes Leko

Carlsen’s powerful siege of Topalov’s position claims a well-earned point. Leko misses good chances, and goes down against Anand. Ivanchuk gets a perpetual in a battle with Radjabov. Aronian is satisfied to split the points with Shirov.

Topalov – Carlsen

Carlsen gains an opening advantage by adopting an Alekhine against Topalov, and wins a pawn. Topalov is tied in knots trying to hold off Black’s initiative. Carlsen’s passed pawn, supported by his king, keeps Topalov tied up. With the aid of some tactics, Carlsen strengthens his grip, and Topalov runs out of space and moves. A powerful performance from Carlsen.

Leko – Anand

The Sicilian Najdorf rapidly heads into an endgame with Leko slightly on top. Leko lets his advantage whittle away by taking a passive approach to the endgame. Leko finally starts seizing the initiative on the queenside, which leads to the win of a pawn, but hands the initiative and strong counterplay to Anand. Anand’s central passed pawn mass proves more powerful than Leko’s connected queenside passed pawns.

Radjabov – Ivanchuk

Ivanchuk’s Taimanov Sicilian transposes into a Classical French. Ivanchuk gets his queenside pawns moving toward the White king. Radjabov builds up in the centre sacrifices a pawn to break Black’s central pawn structure. Radjabov breaks through, demolishing Ivanchuk’s queenside, but Ivanchuk has enough counterplay to secure perpetual check.

Aronian – Shirov

After a rapier-like clash in the English Opening transposing to an Old Indian-like position, the tension eases just as rapidly, and the players take an early draw.

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Morelia/Linares 2008 Round 4 – Topalov downed by Shirov. Aronian gifted a point by Ivanchuk

Shirov outplays Topalov in the double-rook endgame. Aronian benefits from an Ivanchuk double-blunder to scoop a point from nothing. Leko’s solid play is sufficient to split the points with Carlsen. Radjabov’s activity in the Schliemann Ruy is enough to secure a draw against Anand.

Shirov – Topalov

Topalov gains a slight edge out of a Sveshnikov Sicilian. Shirov starts to take a hold of the queenside with his piece activity, forcing Topalov to reduce into a semi-endgame with a bad bishop, but Topalov manages to get into a double rook endgame. But its Shirov’s rooks that take over the board, and its the entry of his king deep into the Black position that coverts the position into a whole point for Shirov.

Ivanchuk – Aronian

Ivanchuk side-steps Aronian’s Marshall with 8.d4, and the game dissolves into a double bishop middlegame. Ivanchuk nurtures a small advantage and builds on it by circling around Black’s isolated d-pawn. Aronian blunders under the pressure, but Ivanchuk misses the win of a piece, but still has a large advantage plus two extra pawns. And then Ivanchuk trips up, dropping a piece and misses forcing a perpetual check. Aronian gains a fortuitous point.

Carlsen – Leko

Carlsen’s side-line in the Classical Nimzo-Indian gives the opening edge to Leko, but his subsequent careful play lets the opportunity to cement his advantage dissipate. Although Carlsen has a slight edge, Leko’s solid play prevents it from becoming a danger, and the points are shared.

Anand – Radjabov

Radjabov gains a pair of raging bishops plus some kingside pressure from Schliemann’s Gambit of the Ruy Lopez. Anand counters by a queenside pawn expansion, attempting to contain the bishops. Radjabov gets all his pieces developed and regains his sacrificed pawn. His centralised pieces is sufficient to convince Anand to split the points.

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Morelia/Linares 2008 Round 3 – Topalov and Anand score against Ivanchuk and Carlsen

Topalov outplays Ivanchuk. Anand gains a strong advantage, accepts Carlsen’s offering and converts it to a whole point in an Anti-Moscow. Radjabov’s aggression secures a quick draw with Aronian. Shirov counters Leko’s central pressure and earns a well-played draw.

Topalov – Ivanchuk

Topalov’s English Attack against Ivanchuk’s Sicilian Najdorf triggers off a game of chicken. Topalov bails out first, leaving Ivanchuk a little constricted on the dark squares. Topalov unravels his pieces first and takes the initiative on the queenside. Ivanchuk sacrifices a pawn seeking counterplay in the centre. Topalov converts to a winning minor piece ending, and he makes no mistake forcing a decisive result.

Carlsen – Anand

Carlsen challenges Anand in the Anti-Moscow Semi-Slav, reminding Anand of the painful loss he suffered against Radjabov earlier in the year in Corus Wijk aan Zee. Anand keeps his king in the centre and develops around it. Carlsen has some compensation for the sacrificed pawn. Anand gets a strongly entrenched knight deep into Carlsen’s position, and with his queenside pawns ties up Carlsen’s position. Carlsen invests an exchange to whittle down Anand’s queenside pawn phalanx. Anand forces the queens off and converts the rook vs bishop endgame.

Aronian – Radjabov

Aronian offers a fianchetto King’s Indian, but Radjabov prefers an English/Sicilian set-up and frees his position quickly. Radjabov forces a reduction of pieces by an exchange combination. Both sides are happy to split the points.

Leko – Shirov

Leko gets a trademark pressure against the backward d-pawn in a Sicilian Najdorf. Shirov wedges open the f-file for his rooks, but leaves Leko in firm control of the light squares which hold back Black’s weak hanging pawns. Shirov’s kingside play forces Leko to exchange down, and Shirov’s active king arrives to hold the Black center for a draw.

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Morelia/Linares 2008 Round 2 – Anand overwhelmed by Aronian’s Marshall Attack

Aronian’s interference combination leaves Anand defenceless. Leko’s two rooks for a queen exchange is refuted by Ivanchuk. Radjabov miscues against Topalov and the Berlin Wall secures another solid draw. Carlsen holds the isolated-pawn against Shirov.

Anand – Aronian

Aronian plays an early novelty in the Marshall attack, fighting for control of the e-file. Anand misses opportunities to defuse Black’s initiative and lets Aronian create a dangerous pin down the e-file, pushing Anand on the defensive. Aronian ejects another pawn to tighten the screws around the White king. Anand overlooks a tactical point, and Aronian’s exchange sacrifice turns the tables. Anand’s king faces an unstoppable mating attack, and so its time to resign.

Ivanchuk – Leko

Ivanchuk’s Centre Attack in the Ruy Lopez bypasses Leko’s Marshall Gambit. Leko gains the two bishops for the cost of a pawn. Leko offers a rook to trap Ivanchuk’s queen but ends up exchanging the queen for both of his rooks. Leko is fully developed while Ivanchuk struggles to unravel his queenside. Leko makes nothing of his advantage and the initiative swings back to Ivanchuk who finds open files for both of his rooks. The active rooks slowly infiltrate into Black’s position and pin down the Black bishops. Hemmed in by the rooks and no counterplay in a grotty position, Leko throws in the towel.

Radjabov – Topalov

Topalov gets a typically stolid position on the Black side of the Berlin Wall, Radjabov’s position looks more comfortable though. Radjabov fumbles and allows Topalov a petite combination that wins a pawn. Radjabov has some compensation for the pawn deficit in his centralised pieces. Radjabov reclaims the pawn, and retains his strong centralisation. Topalov keeps a firm grip on his cramped position, and Radjabov can make no headway. Draw.

Shirov – Carlsen

Both players head into offbeat Sicilian territory, Carlsen by adopting the Kan/Taimanov, and Shirov’s unusual development of holding back his queenside knight. The position resembles a French Open Tarrasch with Black accepting an isolated d-pawn. Carlsen preserves his dark-squared bishop, and thus can effectively challenge any isolani-blockader. Both players press hard to gain control of the dark-squares, but it’s a standoff. Carlsen takes the perpetual in the queen endgame.

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Morelia/Linares 2008 Round 1 – Anand, Leko and Topalov win

Anand’s exchange sacrifice pays dividends against Shirov. Topalov beats Aronian from a eccentric Nimzo-Indian. Leko bludgeons Radjabov’s Sveshnikov. Carlsen draws with Ivanchuk.

Shirov – Anand

Anand meets Shirov’s aggressive main-line Sicilian Najdorf with an exchange sacrifice to damage White’s queenside. Shirov commences operations in the centre, sacrificing a pawn open lines against the Black king. But Anand takes over the initiative and with a series of threats, the attack on the White king. In desperate trouble Shirov blunders allowing Black an unstoppable mate.

Topalov – Aronian

Aronian gets an edge from the Romanishin Nimzo-Indian, but quickly goes loses it as Topalov’s fianchettoed light-squared bishop makes it hard for Aronian to develop his queenside. Topalov makes full use of his bishop pair and rook pair to prevent Aronian from completing his development. Aronian buckles under the pressure and drops the exchange and his position collapses.

Leko – Radjabov

Radjabov builds up typical kingside play on the Black side of a Sveshnikov Sicilian, but it is Leko’s pressure against the d6-pawn that gives White a slight advantage. Leko turns the screws on the position, and Black’s pawn centre collapses. The White rook enters the seventh rank, and Radjabov drops a piece.

Carlsen – Ivanchuk

Carlsen’s Bc4 line against Ivanchuk’s Sicilian Najdorf allows him thematic pressure down the d-file. In the series of exchanges leaves a semi-endgame where the d6-pawn is still weak. Ivanchuk’s queenside sortie breaks up the position and it dissolves into a rook and minor piece endgame where both parties are contented with a draw.

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Corus 2008, Round 13 – Carlsen and Aronian share first place, followed by Radjabov and Anand

Carlsen and Aronian both draw to secure first place in Wijk Aan Zee 2008. Carlsen’s first place is a marvellous result and shows a rapid maturing of talent. Anand and Radjabov are half a point behind. Kramnik is showing that he is still human, and Topalov is playing like 1995, great wins interspersed with great losses.

Gelfand’s English leads to a winning kingside attack against Eljanov. Anand’s kingside attack is defended actively by Kramnik. The Arkhangelsk Ruy gives Adams a relatively straightforward draw against Topalov. Leko dismantles Mamedyarov’s Steinitz Ruy Lopez. Aronian and Polgar play to a lengthy draw. Carlsen’s Ruy Lopez handling of Radjabov’s King’s Indian is an interesting concept, but not a decisive one. Ivanchuk cannot convert his opening advantage against van Wely’s solid counter play.

Gelfand – Eljanov

Gelfand seizes the centre from a Nimzo-English and saddles Eljanov with hanging pawns. Gelfand tugs and toys with Eljanov’s position forcing weaknesses on the kingside. He forces the win of a pawn. Eljanov tries counterattacking through the centre but finds himself caught in a trap as this opens up the position for all of White’s pieces to co-ordinate in the attack on the Black king. So Eljanov throws in the towel.

Anand – Kramnik

Anand’s Nc3 line against Kramnik gives him a small advantage out of the opening. Both queens are jockeying for position. Anand tries to open up against the Black king with a pawn storm, sacrificing a pawn to open lines. Kramnik’s queen is forced to the side and Anand’s better placed pieces sew some difficulties in Kramnik’s position. When Anand looks to have his kingside attack flowing, Kramnik has his central counterplay going too – his rooks dominating the e-file and seventh rank. This proves sufficient for a draw, and Anand agrees.

Topalov – Adams

Adams defends the Arkhangelsk Ruy Lopez and has no difficulty in equalising against Topalov, so the players split the points.

Leko – Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov has a solid position in a Steinitz Ruy Lopez. Leko plays a patient game building up slowly. Mamedyarov weakens his d6-pawn in an attempt to free his position, but Leko locks it down an accentuates the weakness. With a forcing manoeuvre Leko breaks through the d-file with his rooks. The attack on the light squares will force the win of material, so Mamedyarov throws in the towel.

Polgar – Aronian

Polgar adopts Svidler’s d3 idea in the Ruy Lopez Marshall. A pseudo piece sacrifice mobilises White’s pieces sufficiently to defuse Black’s raging initiative and the game settles into a long rook and knight versus rook and bishop endgame. Near the second time control both players content themselves with a draw.

Carlsen – Radjabov

Carlsen avoids Radjabov’s King’s Indian by adopting a Trompowsky. Carlsen transposes into a closed Ruy Lopez and handled the middle game in thematic style. He gets his rooks into strong positions, but Radjabov has sufficient resources to prevent a slaughter. This leads to an opposite-coloured bishops ending and a draw.

Ivanchuk – van Wely

Van Wely pushes Ivanchuk’s English into a Slav Grunfeld. Ivanchuk goes on the rampage on the queenside, and van Wely counters solidly with a pawn advance through the centre. Van Wely temporarily sacrifices a piece to shepherd his passed pawn through, Ivanchuk having to give back the piece when the pawn queens. This results in a knight and pawns endgame where both players agree to a draw.

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Corus 2008, Round 12 – Kramnik and Topalov are handed defeats by Carlsen and Eljanov

Kramnik’s pawn grab comes to grief against Carlsen. Polgar converts the endgame against Adams. Eljanov catches Topalov out in a Modern Benoni. Anand lets a strong advantage lapse to a draw against van Wely. Radjabov and Leko head straight for the draw. Aronian cannot make the extra pawn count against Ivanchuk. Mamedyarov gets an easy draw against Gelfand using the Closed Sicilian.

Kramnik – Carlsen

Carlsen heads into a Hedgehog against Kramnik’s English. Carlsen manoeuvres effectively inside his confined position, centralising his pieces. With the centre well guarded Carlsen strikes out with a kingside expansion. Kramnik gets caught out pawn-grabbing on the queenside which allows Carlsen’s rook into White’s position. With a clamp on the kingside and active rooks on the queenside Carlsen squeezes Kramnik’s position and is two pawns up when Kramnik tenders his resignation.

Adams – Polgar

Polgar surprises Adams with a Petroff. Adams gains some pressure on the kingside, but this is quickly defused. Polgar takes over the initiative thanks to her control of the e-file and potential backrank mate threats. She holds an edge into the pawn endgame thanks to a better pawn structure. She polishes off the endgame and Adams resigns in a zugzwang position.

Eljanov – Topalov

Topalov essays the Modern Benoni, and in turn Eljanov forces Topalov into a combination, sacrificing a piece to remove White’s kingside pawns and have the makings of a kingside attack. Topalov gains some compensation but seems reluctant to seize the initiative, preferring to build up steadily. Instead of embedding a knight into the heart of White’s position Topalov exchanges it off. He relies on the power of his dark-squared bishop. Eljanov’s regrouping pushes Topalov back, he forces the exchange of Topalov’s dark-squared bishop. Eljanov finishes off with a series of threats against the Black king, forcing a resignation.

van Wely – Anand

Anand gets a protected passed-pawn in the centre right out of an old main-line Queen’s Indian. By blockading the semi-open e-file and starting a pawn advance on the kingside Anand holds on to his advantage all the way through to the endgame. Anand has two connected central passed pawns against van Wely’s protected passed d-pawn. But Anand misses a chance to convert his advantage, with van Wely finding the most accurate reply leaving Anand with nothing more than a draw.

Radjabov – Leko

Both players enter into a long variation of the Queen’s Indian that leads straight to a drawn position.

Aronian – Ivanchuk

Aronian emerges with a big edge in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted against Ivanchuk, thanks to a passed pawn on the queenside. He manages to exchange off a pair of rooks and the queens whilst still maintaining his pawn advantage. Aronian finds he can make no more progress, and the points are shared.

Mamedyarov – Gelfand

The Closed Sicilian makes a guest appearance against Gelfand. The f-file opens up and pieces get exchanged off rapidly. The endgame looks tepid so the players take a draw.

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Corus 2008, Round 11 – Anand wins when Carlsen’s aggressive attack runs out of steam in a combative round

Anand fends off a Carlsen sacrificial attack and reaps the rewards. Aronian’s combative play sweeps aside van Wely. Eljanov builds up a strong attack against Polgar and sweeps to a win. Gelfand blunders against Radjabov. Mamedyarov cannot capitalise on his advantage against Topalov. Ivanchuk and Adams shuffle towards a draw. Leko and Kramnik have a short but entertaining battle ending in perpetual check.

Carlsen – Anand

Carlsen plays classically against Anand’s Scheveningen Sicilian, following in the path of the famous Karpov-Kasparov game. Carlsen gets stuck into his kingside attack forcing an Anand retreat. Carlsen sacrifices two pawns to gain a tempo to swing his rook over to the kingside. Carlsen commits to the attack, sacrificing two pieces, but gets a little carried away with a forcing sequence and misses a better continuation. Anand’s king escapes from the kingside. Anand plays a nice blend of attack and defence, and Carlsen’s material disadvantage is terminal.

Aronian – van Wely

Van Wely sacrifices a pawn out of an …a7 Slav. He has compensation in pressure against White’s e3-pawn. Aronian is over-ambitious, but van Wely doesn’t react actively enough as Aronian builds up a pawn storm against the Black king. Aronian returns the pawn and centralises his pieces. He sacrifices an exchange gaining a tempo and an extra piece in the attack. A further piece sacrifice nets the Black queen and a raging attack against the Black king. Under serious pressure van Wely blunders and his position collapses as his king is stuck in a mating net.

Polgar – Eljanov

Polgar avoids a Ruy Lopez Berlin with a quieter opening that results in Steinitz-like Ruy Lopez. Eljanov gets a slight edge in the resulting middlegame, thanks to his co-ordination on the black squares. Eljanov builds up a threatening kingside attack, and Polgar blunders allowing Eljanov to open up the h-file against the White king. Eljanov’s major pieces strong-arm their way into the White position, leaving Polgar no option but to resign.

Gelfand – Radjabov

Radjabov regroups his pieces against Gelfand’s Gligoric King’s Indian Defence and gets his thematic …f5 break underway. Gelfand reacts on the queenside, but loses his defensive grip on the kingside allowing Radjabov to close in on the white king. Both sides blunder in time trouble before the first time control, but its Gelfand who makes the last mistake falling into a forced mate.

Topalov – Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov gets his kingside counterplay moving quickly out of a Petrosian King’s Indian. He has a slight initiative, and his dark-squared bishop is potently placed. Topalov stumbles, but Mamedyarov misses the strongest continuation, but still holds an edge thanks to his protected central passed pawn. Topalov effects a blockade and shores up his kingside. Mamedyarov cannot find a way to exploit his advantage, and after the first time control a draw is agreed.

Ivanchuk – Adams

Ivanchuk gets a Catalan like structure from an English opening. After a bit of shuffling Ivanchuk opens the a-file for his rook to enter the Black position. This forces Adams on the defensive. Ivanchuk doesn’t see anything better than repeating the position, taking the draw.

Leko – Kramnik

Leko’s 5. Nc3 against Kramnik’s Petroff gives him a solid position. Leko allows Kramnik’s little combination that demolishes the queenside pawn structure around the White king. Kramnik has to part with the exchange to circumvent Leko’s threats of smothered mate. Kramnik invests another piece to allow him a perpetual check.

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Corus 2008, Round 10 – Ivanchuk and Carlsen win.

Ivanchuk outplays Eljanov. Van Wely blunders his queen in a winning position, gifting Carlsen a whole point. Leko has no problems with Anand’s side-line in the Ruy Lopez. Topalov sacrifices an exchange against Radjabov and gains a draw. Gelfand applies a bind to Kramnik’s position, but Kramnik breaks it easily enough to split the points. Polgar holds the black side of a Rubinstein French against Mamedyarov. Adams’ pawn sacrifice pushes the game towards a draw.

Eljanov – Ivanchuk

Ivanchuk sacrifices a pawn on the Black side of a Catalan/Semi-Slav. With better open lines and development, Ivanchuk has compensation for the pawn. Ivanchuk recoups the pawn and has a much better pawn centre. His active pieces dominate the position, and gains a strong advantage. Ivanchuk converts his advantage to an outside passed pawn, and seals a victory combining its advance with threats against the White King.

van Wely – Carlsen

Carlsen unleashes the Benko Gambit against van Wely. Van Wely’s development cuts across Carlsen’s plan, but despite that, Carlsen finds decent squares for his pieces. Van Wely’s plays a risky queenside advance and gains a strong advantage, including a monster passed pawn on c6. Van Wely has a winning position winning both exchanges, but Carlsen fights back by activating his remaining pieces. Combined with his queen Carlsen creates threats in the centre of the board. Van Wely blunders his queen and resigns.

Anand – Leko

Anand bypasses Leko’s Marshall Gambit by a side-line of a Closed Ruy Lopez (6. d3). Leko equalises fairly quickly and gains a solid position. Draw agreed.

Radjabov – Topalov

Radjabov avoids Topalov’s Berlin by heading into a Scotch game, and emerges with an advantage thanks to Topalov’s shattered queenside pawn structure. Radjabov wins the exchange, but allows Topalov to activate his two bishops. Although Radjabov demolishes Topalov’s pawns structure, Topalov’s outside passed pawn offers compensation, and Radjabov is satisfied to split the points.

Kramnik – Gelfand

Kramnik selects an unusual queenside expansion in a Nimzowitsch Queen’s Indian Defence, which allows Gelfand equality in the centre. After kit-gloves type manoeuvring from both players Kramnik gets ambitious with his queenside pawns. The fight rages for control of the long light-squared diagonal a8-h1, with Gelfand using the central dark-squared, and the Kramnik’s knights opting for the central light-squares. Gelfand gets a knight strongly positioned on e4, and offers the exchange to open up the long diagonal and apply a bind to White’s position. Kramnik resists the temptation, Gelfand gets the bind, but his own light-squared bishop remains locked-in. Kramnik has the two bishops and uses the light squares to create threats that force a retreat from Black and the queens get exchanged. Neither side has the edge in the endgame and it winds its way to a draw.

Mamedyarov – Polgar

Mamedyarov fianchettos his light-squared bishop against Polgar’s surprising Rubinstein French. Mamedyarov prepares and executes a d5 pawn-break, and the position simplifies to a balanced endgame, and the players agree to a draw.

Adams – Aronian

Adams bypasses Aronian’s Marshall by opting for sacrificing his d-pawn for open lines and activity. Adams develops quickly and disrupts and weakens the black central pawn structure, gaining compensation for the pawn. Both players are happy to split the points.

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Corus 2008, Round 9 – Topalov smashes Kramnik with a knight sacrifice novelty in the Anti-Moscow Semi Slav

Topalov smashes Kramnik with a well-prepared knight sacrifice in the super-hot Anti-Moscow Semi Slav. Carlsen’s Breyer is mauled by Leko. Adams’ Sozin Sicilian gets the positional treatment as he forces van Wely’s resignation. Polgar reacts aggressively to Radjabov’s Schliemann Gambit, and sacrifices a piece to force a perpetual check. Ivanchuk has a tense and hard-fought scrap with Mamedyarov that ends in a draw. Eljanov equalises easily against Aronian’s English. Gelfand and Anand split the points.

Topalov – Kramnik

In a main line Anti-Moscow Gambit Semi-Slav played thousands of times Topalov uncorks a knight sacrifice, and follows it with a steady build-up of piece activity around the Black king. Topalov’s other knight wends its way to a strong outpost deep in the heart of Kramnik’s position. Kramnik gives back the extra material by centralising his queen and removing the d-pawn. Kramnik’s king makes its way to the queenside by it comes under fire from Topalov’s rooks supporting a queenside pawn storm. Kramnik makes a decisive error that sets up Topalov’s finish, which involves trading his queen for a rook and knight. Topalov dominates the centre, and both Kramnik’s king and queen are harassed by Topalov’s remaining pieces. With the Black king locked away in the corner, Topalov’s passed e-pawn seals the win.

Leko – Carlsen

Leko gets a slight advantage against Carlsen’s Breyer Ruy Lopez. Carlsen expands on the queenside, but his freeing move of …d5 gets him into difficulties. The mass of exchanges leaves Leko with a pair of connected passed pawns on the queenside. Carlsen’s two knights are unable to deal with the passed pawns. With White’s queen, rook and a-pawn on the seventh rank Carlsen is out of options, and resigns.

Adams – van Wely

Adams adopts a brutal Sozin Sicilian instead of his normal classical approach. With the exchange of dark-squared bishops Adams switches from direct kingside aggression to targeting Black’s weak d-pawn. Van Wely has sufficient resources to defend the pawn, but misses a chance to equalise with …d5, opting for playing on the dark-squares on the kingside. This lets Adams open the c-file with decisive. Van Wely finally manages to play …d5, but its too late. As the exchanges reduce the tension, White’s decisive advantage is enough for van Wely to throw in the towel.

Polgar – Radjabov

Radjabov plays the Schliemann Gambit against Polgar’s Ruy Lopez, an opening system rarely seen at Grandmaster level. Radjabov sacrifices a piece and gets compensation in a strong pair of bishops. Polgar returns the material and sacrifices a piece herself that forces a perpetual check.

Ivanchuk – Mamedyarov

Ivanchuk meets Mamedyarov’s Grunfeld with a Classical Exchange gaining a typical Grunfeld pawn centre. Mamedyarov reacts thematically by advancing his queenside pawn majority, but he struggles to develop his kingside. Mamedyarov manages to break up Ivanchuk’s centre, and safeguard his locked-in rook. Ivanchuk misses a strong continuations (29. Qh4!, 30. Nc7). Mamedyarov blockades the e6-square, holding back the potent white d-pawn and holds a small advantage. A rook sacrifice from Ivanchuk forces a breach through to Black’s king, and Mamedyarov is forced to return the gift sharing the points.

Aronian – Eljanov

Its a quiet position out of a Four Knights English Defence. Eljanov unfurls his game neatly, equalises rather easily. Aronian has no advantage so he’s consoles himself with a half-point.

Gelfand – Anand

Anand defends the Black side of an open Catalan. Anand manages to get his freeing move …c5 before Gelfand can fully extract his central pawn advantage. Anand takes over the initiative. He removes some of the tension from the position and gains a nice edge, but is happy to split the points.

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