We have seen a very fighting round today, with no less than five decisive games. After beating David Navara with the black pieces, it's Alexander Grischuk who has taken the lead with 2.5/3. He's followed by Karjakin, Radjabov, Gashimov, Carlsen and Kamsky who are on 2. The unfortunate Cheparinov has lost three games in a row.
Mamedyarov-Kamsky was quite a balanced game that ended in a draw. Kamsky surprised Mamedyarov by playing the Grünfeld ("Shakh plays it himself, and I thought I'd be interesting to have a Grünfeld discussion"). White chose the modest Nf3 and e3 line and Mamedyarov told his opponent the way to play for Black: 9…c4! 10.Bc2 Nc6 followed by ...e5, which was excellent for Black in his own game against Pelletier, European Club Cup 2007. Mamedyarov didn't like his h4-h5-h6 plan from hindsight (he had hoped for Black to respond with …h5, after which White can try Re4 and g4), but Kamsky thought it was fine, and so did Sergey Shipov, our commentator who suggested 28.Rdc1! keeping the tension instead of 28.d6. A last important point to mention: 28…exd6?? fails to 29.Re1 mating!
Inarkiev hasnt't drawn a game yet, and today he was on the bad site of a decisive result. He was much better against Carlsen but after several inaccuracies he lost in the end. At first White was slightly better, but wrong was 13.Bb5? which led to a clear advantage for Black. Carlsen was afraid of 19…Qd7, but at the press conference Inarkiev told him the line 20.Ne3 Bh3 21.gxh3 Qxh3 22.Qc2! which defends. Having spent too much time on the clock already, Inarkiev decided to simplify with 23…Bxf3 and 24…Nd2, missing 26.e5! after which White suddenly takes over the initiative. In the endgame, Black should have sacrificed a pawn with …f5 somewhere, to be able to keep the bishop on the a7-g1 diagonal.
Among the home crowd, Vugar Gashimov was the hero of the day - he beat Peter Svidler with the White pieces in a very nice game. Gashimov didn't mind showing it with a demo board for the press audience, and a sportive Svidler joined the commentary. Gashimov considered 8…Bd6 already a mistake and preferred the theoretical move 8…Nc6. Svidler said he knew about it, but decided that it was time for adventure. "I decided not to play the move I knew to be the best move in the position which was probably a mistake." Both players didn't like 9…b4 because of 10.Nxb5 axb5 11.Nxb5 Bxh2+ 12.Kh1 Qe5 13.g3 which is probably winning. Instead of 11…Nf6 Gashimov preferred 11…Ne7 followed by castles and probably …f5 somewhere - Svidler said when playing Nf6, he had missed the very strong move 15.Qd2! in his calculations. To keep the pawn Black had to play 17…Bxd4 and 18…d5 when White is clearly better. 19…Bxa6 is no improvement because of 20.Bxa6 Rxa6 and now the immediate 21.exd5! (shown by Svidler) and Black cannot win his pawn back on c2 because of Ra1-c1 in the end. Continuing with some very strong moves, Gashimov reached a winning position – in the end, Svidler resigned because of 31…f5 32.Bf6 Rg4 33.Rxg4 fxg4 34.Qf4 which he considered hopeless.
Karjakin beat Adams in a queen ending today. The Englishman, who has played this specific line also with the White pieces, said his "opening preparation wasn't very good," as he "underestimated how dangerous this line is for Black." In chess technical terms, 18…Ra8! was an improvement of Adams-Leko, Miskolc 2005, but it still wasn't enough for complete equality. According to Karjakin Black got very good compensation later on and should have been able to hold the ending, if he hadn't played 46…g4, but Adams wasn't sure about that. In the end the Englishman could have prolonged the fight with 65…Qg5+ but it's lost anyway.
Although this new tournament series is experimenting with more anti-drawing measures than just the Sofia rule, the Petroff Defence is still allowed. It served Wang Yue well, who drew his Black game with Radjabov comfortably. With 19…Bf5 he improved upon the recent game Ganguly-Neelotpal. Radjabov thought he lost his advantage with 28.Ba6, and said he should probably have preferred Kf1 there. Wang Yue suggested 26.Rec1 followed by Kf1, but Radjabov didn't believe it'd be much for White.
Poor Cheparinov lost for the third time, today against Bacrot, despite the fact that White was slightly better for a long time. The players weren't sure from what point it was a draw, but both agreed that 38.Kc3 was a big mistake (White should have played 38.e4+), after which White is in big trouble. Cheparinov said he "played very badly in the ending" but Bacrot gave him some credit: "It's always difficult to change from having a small advantage all the time to suddenly defending a worse position."
The last game to end today was Navara-Grischuk. A long game that could have ended already at move 15, when Grischuk repeated moves, according to him "a logical conclusion" in a balanced position. Navara wanted to play on, but admitted he made a mistake in his calculation, because he ended up worse. He agreed with Shipov that 17.Re1 was more sensible (with the idea to answer 17…e5 with 18.e4!?). Grischuk didn't understand why Navara started forcing matters with 29.b5, which resulted in an ending with a pawn down, by the young Czech thought his position was already very bad. Perhaps he was too pessimistic, because if he hadn't 55.Rd6, which allowed Black to regroup his knight, it might have been a draw anyway according to Grischuk.