Topalov forces the collapse of Ponomariov’s position. Anand fails to capitalise on his advantages against Radjabov. Svidler’s clever knight sacrifice ruins Carlsen’s hopes of a draw. Navara’s insipid play provokes van Wely into compromising his position, and Navara cleans up efficiently. Shirov pushes hard but has to be satisfied with a draw against Motylev. Aronian, Kramin, Tiviakov and Karjakin conclude peaceful draws.
Ponomariov – Topalov
Following in the path of Radjabov, Topalov utilises a King’s Indian. But met with Ponomariov’s esoteric 5. h3, Topalov transposes into a Modern Benoni. Topalov exchanges off White’s tempremental light-squared bishop and starts playing on the dark-squares with his potent dark-squared bishop. Wiht 16… h5 Topalov starts an aggressive passage of play, trying to exploit the weak kingside squares around the White king. Ponomariov is up for a fight, aiming for the kingside by 17. f5!. Both sides are committed. Ponomariov gains control of the f-file, and manages to exchange off Topalov’s dark-squared bishop, but falters in temporarily blocking the f-file with 28. Bf4, Topalov pounces on the blunder, and succeeds in binding White’s pieces with pins and threats. All of Black’s pieces swarm around the White king, and a surprising rook sacrifice produces a winning endgame that Topalov has no problems converting.
Anand – Radjubov
Anand gains a tidy edge against Radjubov’s Sveshnikov Sicilian. Radjabov’s kingside activity is neutered, leaving Anand with the initiative. Anand finds a plan to exploit his advantage – although its an ardous one. His main advantage lies in Black’s weak dark-squared bishop, and he plays to enhance that weakness. Sparks fire on the queenside before Anand has it firmly back in control, but Radjabov defends doggedly. Anand’s control of the d-file, his attack on the d6-square and his pressure on the a5 pawn are enough to give Anand the upperhand. Black can undertake nothing constructive. Anand converts this advantage to pressure against Black’s king, but Anand avoids winning the e5-pawn under the impression it would give Black too much play. Radjabov plays an accurate defence, and Anand’s initiative runs out of steam, leaving a balanced endgame.
Carlsen – Svidler
Svidler manages to transpose from an Anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez into an Archangel set-up. Carlsen fails to prove that the extra tempo he gains could profitably be invested. In a balanced position, Carlsen embarks on a plan to control the d5-square, as Svidler builds up play on the kingside which effectively hinders Carlsen’s natural plan. Carlsen ditches a pawn trying to gain active counterplay, but Svidler shocks Carlsen with a knight sacrifice, he gains compensation by a neatly timed advance of his e-pawn that disrupts White’s position. Svidler heads into an advantageous queen and pawns endgame, and expertly concludes q win with accurate endgame technique.
Navara – van Wely
Van Wely opts for a Dragon system against Navara’s innocuous looking 6. h3, but Navara builds a solid advantage out of the opening. Navara plays a neat combination of attack and defence, thwarting Black’s threats down the c-file as well as opening central files against the Black king. Van Wely is forced into fatally weakening his centre, giving White a large advantage in the endgame. Navara uses his edge to clarify the queenside leaving him with two passed pawns, and with some accurate play, his pawns prove far superior than Black’s passed kingside pawn.
Shirov – Motylev
Shirov plays the fashionable ultra-solid 5. Nc3 against Motylev’s Petroff, and gains a small edge once most of the pieces are exchanged off. Shirov presses further but is unable to increase his advantage. He eventually conceeds a draw at move 41.
Aronian – Kramnik
Aronian has a go at Kramnik’s ultra-solid Slav, and although Kramnik labours under a slight disadvantage, he avoids weakening his position further. A draw is agreed on move 28.
Tiviakov – Karjakin
Tiviakov’s c3 Sicilian is comfortably met by Karjakin. After a quick series of exchanges, a draw is agreed.