The opening round of the second cycle was notable for two "intra-national" pairings, which greatly tested the nerves of the commentators and the numerous spectators in the auditorium. What happened between the two Americans? Nakamura, who had just bounced back with a win yesterday, could not hold, and his defeat against Caruana must leave a serious question mark over who should be regarded as the number one in the USA. One can go further with the speculation and ask who will lead the US team at the Olympiad in Baku. As you can see, the sub-text to today's game was serious.
The result was to a large extent "planned". In his FB blog, the ACP President wrote that "with four Whites and a Black against the unpredictable Topalov, the Italian-American has good chances of success", and now Fabi has justified his faith. As the old saying goes: "Let he who has ears, hear".
Caruana - Nakamura
22.c3 – A move highly praised by the commentators. Ilya Smirin and Sergey Shipov showed that the possibilities for the black pieces are seriously reduced. 22…Bf8 23.Nd2 fxg5 24.Rxg5 Nc5 25.Rg3 – Fabi is alert!
25…e4 – Nakamura prefers a quick death, which his opponent has no objection to, of course. 26.Bxc5 Bxc5 27.Nxe4 Bd6 28.Rh3 Be5 29.d4 Bf6 30.Rg1 Rb8 31.Kxa2 Bh4 32.Rg4 Qd5 33.c4 Black resigns (1:0) Fabi wins his first game and catches Anand.
At the Russian-language commentator's desk, regular Sergey Shipov was joined by Ilya Smirin
Aronian and Giri did not waste too much time today. The Dutch GM is not willing to change himself. So, a draw is a draw. And maybe he is right in his fatalistic approach. In his turn, the tournament leader did not find a suitable moment to storm the gates, and accepted the draw philosophically. Even more so, given that half a point brought him the outright lead in the standings.
How many games have the old rivals played against each other?
Topalov - Anand
After 26.Kf2 Black spent a further 25 moves trying to squeeze something out of the theoretical advantage of Q+N v Q+B, and then with N v B. Before agreeing the draw, Vishy spent some time looking at the scoresheet, as if trying to work out where he might have missed his chance to increase the advantage, but then smiled and offered his hand. Draw (½ : ½)
The all-Russian meeting also caused some concern (and how much!). Peter seemed to play rather too ambitiously over the whole board, advancing pawns in front of his king, then launching a diversion on the queenside. ..Sergey was more careful and at move 19 could have counted on a serious advantage.
Svidler - Karjakin
The commentators were rattling out variations, one of which even ended in this position:
Sergey had a real chance to become sole leader in the event. His opponent was also looking worried. ..But now Fortune turned her face suddenly the other way. By some miracle, the queens came off and the powerful black pawns turned into an army of invalids. Now Sergey was the one looking worried and rightly so!
48.Re5, suggested by Stockfish, preventing the capture on a2, looks extremely attractive and fairly convincing. Instead, there followed an amnesty for the desperate leader. 48.Rxf4 Rxa2 49.Rfh4 g6 50.Re5 Draw (½ : ½). Interestingly, this time Emil Sutovsky pointed out that in this event, Peter has missed many winning chances and Sergey saved many lost positions. Is this another illustration of the adage that "The winner is always lucky"? Sergey's supporters will be hoping so. Meanwhile, the table, with six rounds to go, looks like this:
Material: Sergey Kim
CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT ROUND 8: THE PRESIDENT'S PROGNOSIS AND "LET HE WHO HAS EARS HEAR".