Leko demolishes Radjubov, Svidler brushes aside Vallejo, Ivanchuk has a fine finish against Aronian. Topalov makes no headway against a solid Bacrot.
Radjabov heads into a Sveshnikov Sicilian, a Leko speciality. Leko probes on both sides of the board, and succeeds in generating a weakness in the black kingside. He switches to the queenside, and pressure on the a-file nets him a rook on the seventh rank. Radjabov fights back with active play, but Leko calmly sacrifices the exchange which forces the Black king into a mating trap. A knight sacrifice concludes a smooth Leko win.
Aronian adopts a Hedgehog formation against Ivanchuk’s English, but Ivanchuk emerges with a comfortable edge after dominating the d-file. He wins a pawn, and his two rooks dominate the position. Aronian gets his knight into an active spot and starts to push Ivanchuk’s rooks out of the heart of the Black position. But after swopping off the light squared-bishop Ivanchuk’s rooks re-enter the Black position, taking up strong positions on the seventh rank. Aronian’s counterplay isn’t sufficient to defuse White’s threats, and a pretty knight sacrifice ends Aronian’s resistance.
Vallejo plays an obscure sideline of the exchange variation of the Grunfeld, and its Black who emerges from the opening moves with an edge. Svidler converts this to a strong advantage inside the first fourteen moves. Vallejo’s position is a wreck, and Svidler reasserts his advantage after regrouping and taking control of the centre. The White king is helpless under the ensuing onslaught. The threatened pawn endgame gives White no hope.
Topalov – Bacrot
Topalov plays a conservative variation of the Petroff and emerges with a slight edge, which Topalov converts into a weakening of the kingside pawns protecting the Black king. Bacrot equalises with a queenside minority attack, and obtains an active rook which prevents White from extending his advantage. Draw agreed in a balanced rook and pawn endgame.