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.