Svidler topples Topalov with a magnificient effort, Leko batters Vallejo with an opening novelty, Aronian teases out a win against Radjabov, and Ivanchuk works hard for the half-point against Bacrot.
Svidler sacrifices a pawn out of the opening to get a pawn to f5, in a Berlin Ruy Lopez. His centralised pieces keep the Black king locked in the centre. Svidler has compensation for his pawn, but Topalov has the two bishops. Its in the rooks that Svidler has the advantage, piling up pressure on the central files. Topalov starts to outplay Svidler but loses the thread of the position and eventually blunders in time trouble. Svidler has a great edge in the endgame, although Topalov mounts a tough resistance, he cannot prevent the queening of a White passed pawn.
Vallejo plays an unusual side-line in a classical Nimzo-Indian, and is met with a solid active play from Leko. Leko quickly gets control of the centre and offers a knight, which Vallejo cannot accept. Leko builds up pressure on the centre and queenside. Vallejo eventually removes the sacrificed knight at the cost of an exchange. In the endgame, Vallejo’s kingside pawns aren’t sufficient compensation for the exchange and Black’s active rook.
Aronian – Radjabov
Radjabov tries to improve on a previous game in a King’s Indian. Aronian emerges with a slight edge in a complicated position. Aronian sacrifices two pawns to push the Black queen out of play on the queenside, and quickly regains them in the ensuing activity of his major pieces. Aronian uses his active pieces in combination with an insecure Black king to increase the pressure in the endgame, and coverts the queen and pawn ending where he has the extra pawn.
Bacrot – Ivanchuk
Bacrot plays an new move in a Queen’s Indian, and exerts great pressure on Black’s c7-square. Ivanchuk defends doggedly, as the game takes on a Kings Indian Attack character. Bacrot sacrifices a pawn, and his flurry of piece activity sees him demolish Ivanchuk’s central pawns. Ivanchuk presses in the rook and pawn ending, and the battle continues down to the last pawn finishing up in a drawn ending.