Round 8: Topalov defeats Morozevich and takes a lead
Whilst the weather in Switzerland is still relatively cold, things were heating up over the chess boards in Zug! After 8 rounds of play former world champion Veselin Topalov became the sole leader in the tournament. He defeated Russian player Alexander Morozevich, who lost today the second game in a row after so good start of the tournament. All other games finished in draws. Ruslan Ponomariov managed to defend the worse endgame against Hikaru Nakamura and is on the second place half a point behind of Topalov. Tomorrow is a free day and the ninth round is scheduled on 28th of April.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov - Teimour Radjabov ½ - ½
The two tail enders seemed peacefully inclined before the next rest day and after Kasimdzhanov chose the Bf4 line against the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Radjabov did not wish to get involved in any of the long theoretical lines with and immediate c5 and opted instead for the Nbd7 line. White preferred the quieter 11.Be2 to the main line with 11.Be5 and the first “new” move cane with 20…Rac8 in a position which was already quite equal and the final result was never in doubt for either player. Clock Times 1:33 - 1:11
Ruslan Ponomariov - Hikaru Nakamura 1/2-1/2
Nakamura returned to his favourite Najdorf variation in the Sicilian. Previously they had played a Najdorf but that time Ponomariov was Black ! Both players know the theory in this variation extremely well and Ruslan was the first to try and deviate from the main path with 12.Qd2 in lieu of the main lines 12.h3 or 12.Be2. First new move on the board came with 17.f4 but this seemed to allow black to take the initiative and after 20..a4! Black was controlling the game. During the press-conference American player pointed out that he could have tried to play 27...Qh5 instead of 27...d5 and this was a critical moment in the game. But even after the move in the game the position looked difficult for White but Ruslan defended very well.
Alexander Morozevich - Veselin Topalov 0-1
The most critical game today was obviously Morozevich – Topalov and it was clear that Morozevich had to make up for the lost ground of the previous day. The players went for a symmetrical English and White immediately sprung a novelty on the 9th move with c5 instead of the normal 9.Qe2. Topalov side stepped but Morozevich was determined to get a complicated position on the board and there were immeasurable of thrusts and parries in the game. Topalov never seemed in any great difficulties however and kept good control over the position. White was in time trouble when he could have tried to create more problems for Black by playing 41. Be5 or 52.c4.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Gata Kamsky ½ - ½
Kamsky got his favourite Chebanenko-Grunfeld setup with c6-a6-g6 and the players trotted out the theory relatively fast. Mamedyarov adopted a lesser played line with 10.b3 instead of the main line 10.c5 but Black was prepared and he chose 15…Qd5 instead of the previously played 15…Qd7 which also ended in a draw. During the press-conference it became obvious how good was the preparation of Azeri player. After the exchange of queens Shakhriyar got a slight edge but Gata seemed comfortable with the position and there was very little play and pieces were exchanged at a steady pace. The point was shared on move 42.
Fabiano Caruana - Peter Leko ½ - ½
Again we had another delayed Ruy Lopez in Zug. Maybe Peter wanted to go for the Marshall’s Gambit but hardly any players at this level allow it today since it offers too many drawing lines for Black. Fabiano continued his quiet approach in the opening with the rare 9.a3 whereas the main line is 9.c3. Black’s 12…Nd4 was the first new move on the board but according to Peter Leko he’s seen the similar idea before with h3 Be6 on the board. Fabiano could not prove he has any edge and It was enough to keep equality fro Black. White really had nothing much in the game with Houdini floating from a maximum of +0.22 to -0.23 throughout the game!
Sergey Karjakin - Anish Giri ½ - ½
Giri threw off the positional style with which he had been playing in the first part of the event and a wild position soon arose from a King’s Indian Saemisch variation. Anish preferred to play 12…Bd7 instead of the more commonly played 12..h5 and this surprised Sergey who replied with 13.h3?! rather than 13.Be2. The resulting fray saw a new idea with 16…Nh5 and it was already clear that bBlack was looking to sacrifice this knight as after 17.g4 he played the complicated 17…Qh4! However 17..Ng3 was also worth considering but Anish Giri had doubts during the press-conference. White seemed a bit unsettled by Black’s aggressive play and opted for 23.f5 when 23.e5 may have posed Giri some serious problems given the poor position of the black queen. After the game move, Black equalised immediately and the exposed position of the white king allowed Black to obtain a relatively straightforward perpetual check.