By Robert Fontaine
Before the 7th round, we still had one leader, Boris Gelfand (4/6), chased by a pack of four players (Grischuk, Topalov, Mamedyarov and Leko) with 3.5/6.
Strangely, none of them are facing each other today. The UK production company Sunset+Vine, famous for their innovations in televising major events, are shooting the whole day for the second time this week.
Leinier avoided the main line of the Berlin defence and decided to go for the closed Spanish opening. Right after the opening, Peter chose to destroy the pawn centre with 15…c6 and 16…d5!? The endgame, which arose from these exchanges, was a bit better for White due to the pawn structure. Not enough to break Leko’s defence and the draw was agreed.
A very exciting Gruenfeld played by Veselin, who was 2 pawns down after 8 moves, but of course still in his preparation. As compensation, Veselin immediately had a better development. After 13 moves, White didn’t develop the king’s side at all with the bishop still on f1 and pawns on “e2” and “g2”! All the black squares were weakened and Topalov logically took the advantage step by step.
Approaching the time trouble, Hao managed to survive from his opponent’s attack and eventually equalized. A tough draw for the young Chinese player and a disappointment for Topalov.
Anyone is expecting blood in that game! “Shak” and Hikaru have explosive styles based on attack. So far, Hikaru’s results are not as he expects. Without any big surprise, we had a King’s Indian arriving on the board and Shakhriyar went for a quiet line based on g3, Bg2. White took the space and Hikaru decided to change the course of the game by playing 17…c5?!
It appeared that White suddenly took the advantage by creating some attack after 18.e5! Mamedyarov kept on pressuring his opponent until the time trouble, where Black couldn’t find the best defence. Mamedyarov is scoring his second full point in a row.
After few moves, Vasily was not writing his moves. Carol Jarecki, the arbiter, made the small remark to the Ukrainian player. Vasily just forgot about it! In a strange move order (Reti), Rustam took the c4-pawn and tried to keep it as long as possible with 10…Qd4. Vasily didn’t go to the arbiter to ask for a draw (2 times repetition only) and finally the draw was agreed after only 11 moves!
These two players know each other well very well and are from the same generation (Boris is born in 1968 and Michael in 1971). Michael went for the Rossolimo line of the Sicilian, choosing the b3, Bb2 plan. Boris decided to develop his pieces in an original way with f6, Kf7. Position looked pretty equal but Black had compensation with the two bishops.
Boris even went for the a2-pawn, which seemed risky. Black kept his two pawn advantage until the rook endgame and managed to win. An important victory for Boris who is in real good shape so far!
Anish played the solid Maroczy Bind against Grischuk's 6…Ba7 Paulsen Sicilian. The young Dutch player went for the usual plan with a4-a5 in order to take space on the queen’s side. Grischuk’s position remained solid, exchanging all the pawns on the queen’s side and equalizing comfortably. The draw was agreed after a long fight!
All photos used in this report kindly provided by Ray Morris-Hill Photography ( www.rmhphoto.eu )