Kramnik, Topalov, and Anand will take the white pieces into action in Sunday's second round of the Corus supertournament. The latter two are recovering from losses. Topalov-Ivanchuk is usually a good matchup. van Wely-Polgar promises sharp action. Will Radjabov again risk the King's Indian against Kramnik? He did it here last year and looked to be in a spot of trouble before Kramnik played an inexplicable simplifying line.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet, but Anand-Kramnik takes place in the 13th and final round on Sunday the 27th. (Which, oddly, is the day I arrive in Amsterdam for some work with Garry. Maybe I'll see some of the players at the airport on the way back.) Or, looking at the first-day standings, perhaps the final round matchup of Carlsen-Radjabov will be more important? Nah.
By the way, didn't Anand miss a repetition draw claim against Radjabov in round 1?! The position is identical after black moves 57..Kf6, 59..Kf6, and 63..Ra7 (instead of 63..Ra8). Holy heck. And try out 55.fxg6?!! in Peng Zhaoqin-Caruana, a try for a Halley's Comet endgame of pawn versus two knights. Very tough to win for Black.
Round 2: Anand-Mamedyarov, Kramnik-Radjabov, Topalov-Ivanchuk, Leko-Adams, Gelfand-Aronian, Carlsen-Eljanov, van Wely-Polgar.
Wow, Magnus Carlsen just won his second in a row with a fine squeeze of Eljanov. He's now in the lead with 2/2 along with Aronian, who beat Gelfand with black in attractive style in the Israeli's own pet line of the Semi-Slav. Kasparov is certainly not alone in being very impressed with Carlsen's play so far. "The kid is tough! He outplayed both of his opponents gradually and kept up the pressure." All the other games drawn, assuming Adams doesn't fall asleep against Leko in Q+4p vs Q+3p. Lots of interesting chess today. More tonight.
Well, not much more. As we knew at the time, Gelfand's 29.Rxg6 was a horrible blunder. But he'd already been outplayed out of the opening by Aronian. Kramnik got a tiny plus against Radjabov's King's Indian and parlayed his activity into a worthless extra pawn in R+B vs R+B. He still tortured Radja for a good extra hour though. Speaking of torture, Leko maneuvered around for nearly the full seven hours against Adams trying to make something of his extra pawn in the queen endgame, but it didn't happen.
A Group virgin Eljanov's nerves got the better of him and he traded into a horror show of an endgame against Carlsen. Hard to believe a Grunfeld player would grab with 18..Qxc3 like that. Leko knew better when he was 13 years old, as a 1992 game shows. Still, very nicely done by Carlsen and, to be fair, GM Benjamin evaluated the endgame as "equal" at one point. Ivanchuk played a rare Benoni (rare in elite classical tournaments, at least), and against Topalov no less, one of the few top GMs who has the Benoni in his repertoire for more than desperate occasions. Chucky's odd move order seemed to give White an optimal version but Topalov couldn't prove it.
Anand-Mamedyarov was a similar tale. Black played an unbalanced line but Anand couldn't capitalize. Funny how no matter what Mamedyarov plays with black it always seems to come out looking like a Pirc. Both games were rich and complex draws. That could also be said for van Wely-Polgar, which wasn't the slugfest I expected. White won a pawn and looked in good shape but Polgar is the queen of counterplay. 28..Rf8! was a nice blow to confuse the issue. The Dutchman must have thought victory was in his grasp until 30..Qe2! landed on the board, forcing the draw. Great save.
Down in the C Group, Carlsson-Peng Zhaoqin was an 11-move draw in a book position. Nobody does this sort of thing in the C Group so I wonder illness or something else external was involved. Otherwise, that's a quick way to make sure you aren't invited back. Braun beat Negi with a cute final move. Four players in the C have 2/2 scores. No one in the B does.