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Round 9: Topalov drew against Mamedyarov and in sole lead
IMG 7441 It was raining hard during the second free day and most of players preferred to stay in the hotel and relax before the final part of the tournament. Three decisive games were played in the ninth round. Two more could have finished in favour of Peter Leko and Rustam Kasimdzhanov as both players were close to win against Sergey Karjakin and Anish Giri respectively. The leader of the tournament Veselin Topalov drew against Shakhriyar Mamdeyarov and keeps half a point distance from Fabiano Caruana, who won against Gata Kamsky and placed second. Ruslan Ponomariov moved from the second to the third place after his lose against Teimur Rajabov and shares the third place with Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin. Alexander Morozevich lost the third game in a row despite he got a huge advantage against Hikaru Nakamura.

IMG 7474Anish Giri - Rustam Kasimdzhanov  1/2-1/2

Another symmetrical English and once again Anish Giri’s enterprising play led to a dynamic position with lots of complex variations on the board. 11…Be6 was the new move on the board instead of 11..e6 and White decided to spice life up with 18.Ne5!? but Black missed 18…Qa6 and instead allowed the exchange sacrifice and subsequent attack by White. However White then pursued this attack a bit too aggressively and after 25.Rc1 Black simply took the rook off the board and after a forced continuation Black could have played the strong 31…Rd8 or not human move 32...e6 leaving White with some activity but without material. Black decided to go for the endgame with an exchange up but 36...e5 instead of Ra8 would have put more problems for White to decide. After 59 move the peace was signed.

IMG 7448Peter Leko - Sergey Karjakin  1/2-1/2

The players transposed quite quickly to a main line of the Queen’s Indian defence. Leko was very well prepared and got a positional advantage shortly after the opening. His 13.Bf4 was the new move on the board but White is relatively safe and comfortable then. Sergey started to get into a bit of trouble in the early middle game and lost a few tempi with his minor pieces. 18…Ne4?! Allowed 19.cxd5! and White had a big advantage from that point on despite the initial complications. But as is the norm with Karjakin you have to keep the pressure constantly and one slight slip with 29.Ra3  allowed Black to get some counter play. After 40 th move Ra7 Peter Leko pointed out it was hard to find any edge for White.

IMG 7452Gata Kamsky - Fabiano Caruana  0-1

It’s always amazing how in such well played lines such as the Ruy Lopez, one can still get new moves early in the opening. Kamsky tried to catch Black out with the rare 9.Be3 instead of the main line 9.c3. This did not seem to pose too much problems for Fabiano and he equalised and kept the balance throughout the game. The players spent a great deal of time on the ensuing moves and after 25 moves white had 5 minutes left against Black’s 17 minutes. Black got a slight edge after 18. Ng4 but inaccurate 33. Qe3 allowed the Black’s queen to enter the first rank. The position of White’s king became dangerous.  Fabiano Caruana played precisely and managed to win the game on the 40th move.

IMG 7425Veselin Topalov - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov      1/2-1/2

Black was well prepared after the free day and Mamedyarov did not repeat his game against Karjakin earlier in the tournament. After 14.Nf5 the moves came fast this time and the first new move was by Black with 19…Qd7. The position was dynamically equal as the two knights in the center compensated for the space advantage that White had. After the multiple exchange of rooks and minor pieces we had an endgame with Queen+Bishop  versus Queen+Knight and White had to go for the perpetual due to the advancing h-pawn.

IMG 7458Hikaru Nakamura - Alexander Morozevich  1-0

Both players wanted to win to move up in the tournament. A King’s Indian quickly transposed into a Benoni and 13.a4 did not seem to stop Morozevich’s exuberance as he went 13…b5 in gambit form anyway. Nakamura tried to refuse the pawn offer with 15.b4 but this allowed Black the immediate tactical initiative with 15…Ng4! According to Nakamura, he didn’t like his position after 22...Na3. Black obtained a winning position and might have netted the full point if instead of 25…Ra6 he went 25…Bg7 immediately. The delay in this allowed Nakamura to consolidate and equalise. The game was unexpectedly decided after the blunder of Black 31... Re4.  

IMG 7472Teimour Radjabov - Ruslan Ponomariov  1-0

Teimour Radjabov managed to win his first game in the tournament. In an earlier round Leko remarked that one of Ponomariov’s favourite lines was the Queens Gambit Accepted and today he went for it. Radjabov seemed to get a very strong position and the position looked aesthetically very difficult for Black. 11..f5 was the new move on the board but after 12.a5!? White seemed to be doing fine. Till move 22 the players followed the computer suggested first or second moves and kept a very delicate equality but 22..c6 was the first weaker option by Black allowing White to increase his advantage. Both sides left themselves with very little time however by move 28 and started to play faster. As it happens in many games, Ponomariov made a mistake on the last 40th move of the first time control. This exchange was fatal for Black and after 10 moves he has to resign. 40...g5, 40...Ka2, 40...Kb3 would lead to a draw.

Monday, April 29th at 2 p.m. the tenth round will be played and the leader Veselin Topalov will play against Fabiano Caruana who is on the second place.
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