Topalov’s Modern Benoni is demolished by van Wely. Polgar’s aggression is too much for Gelfand, and she chalks up her first win. Kramnik grinds out a win against Eljanov. Leko forces a perpetual against Ivanchuk from a better position. Radjabov poses no problems to Mamedyarov in a Russian Grunfeld draw. Adams’ advantage is not enough to take down Anand.
van Wely – Topalov
Topalov’s 1… e6 leads the game into an offshoot of the Modern Benoni. Topalov develops his kingside knight to e7, where the point becomes clear a few moves later as the queenside knight finds a decent square on f6 for itself. Nevertheless, it’s van Wely who emerges from the opening with an advantage as his thematic e5-break is very much on the cards. Topalov cannot hold back the breakthrough, it costs him the exchange. Topalov tries to increase the pressure with tactical means. Both sides have attacking chances, but the long term advantage is with van Wely. As the game heads into an endgame van Wely’s grip on the game strengthens, and he finishes off with a nice attack on the king that eliminates any safe spots for Black’s minor pieces.
Gelfand – Polgar
Polgar opts for a violent approach against Gelfand’s Catalan, sacrificing a pawn and lodging another in the throat of Gelfand’s position. She plays an improvement over a Gurevich game in 2003 and has compensation for the pawn as Gelfand’s dark-squared bishop finds it difficult to find a secure spot. Gelfand tempts Black’s far-flung passed d-pawn forward to the second rank, and Polgar takes the risk, and Gelfand loses control of the situation and gets caught pawn grabbing. The tactical sequence sees Polgar’s pieces become highly active. Gelfand has to give up the exchange, but it’s not enough to stop Polgar’s initiative. Gelfand slips and falls into a mating net.
Kramnik – Eljanov
Kramnik exits from mainstream theory of the English opening, and he emerges with an advantage in development despite his queen’s wanderings. The queens are exchanged, and Eljanov goes astray, conferring an advantage to Kramnik. Kramnik spurns a chance for immediate material gain and continues to build pressure on Black’s position through a temporary pawn sacrifice. Eljanov’s pawn structure is shattered, and Kramnik advances inexorably to cashing in on these weaknesses, grinding away until Eljanov’s position collapses. Kramnik collects the full point.
Leko – Ivanchuk
Leko emerges from a Modern Caro-Kann with an advantage against Ivanchuk, and has a piece-play against the Black king. Ivanchuk slips-up and gives Leko time to route his dark-squared bishop actively on the kingside. Leko’s initiative looks dangerous, so Ivanchuk disposes of his queen for the White rooks and frees his own rooks. Still with a strong advantage, Leko opts to force a draw by perpetual check.
Carlsen – Aronian
Carlsen avoids Aronian’s Marshall and the game heads into a Steinitz-like Ruy Lopez with slow build up. Carlsen expends a great deal of time to exchange the light-squared bishops and a pair of knight, and that gives Aronian the initiative. Aronian sacrifices the exchange to break up the pawn structure around White’s king. Carlsen swaps off the strongly placed Black knight and breaks in the centre and mobilises his two rooks aiming at Black’s king, and sacrifices two pawn to activate his queen, and forces a draw by threatening a perpetual check.
Radjabov – Mamedyarov
Radjabov heads into the Russian variation against Mamedyarov’s Grunfeld reaching an equal position. Radjabov allows Mamedyarov control of the d-file in exchange for a pawn and removing the queens. By exchanging off his dark-squared bishops Mamedyarov initiates a series of exchanges that regains his pawn and results in a balanced rook endgame.
Anand – Adams
In a modern Queen’s Indian, Anand improves on Kasimdzhanov-Gelfand from their Candidates match last year, and the position is equal. Adams slowly improves his position and gains a definite advantage, even though Anand’s position is optically better. Adams surrenders his two bishops and the position is equal again. Anand sacrifices a pawn to open the key dark-squared diagonal, and the opposite coloured-bishops with queens endgame is typically energetic. Anand holds the position.