Magnus Carlsen rolled over Judit Polgar the way 17-year-olds are not supposed to roll over experienced opposition. The win moved him into clear first place with an excellent +3, 4.5/6 score. That's a half-point ahead of Radjabov and Kramnik, who swapped places with Aronian by beating him in a theoretically drawn rook endgame long after playing a spectacular novelty. The third decisive game of the day was Topalov's marvelous turnaround against Leko. "Topalov's really playing great chess," sez Kasparov, and keep in mind the Bulgarian's second win in a row only brings him back to an even score. Official site.
Over the past year we have all marveled at the development of Magnus Carlsen. Since his breakout performance at the elite level at Linares last year the 17 year old has shown he's not interested in any plateau period before hitting the top ten. His semifinal performance at the World Cup has now been followed by a startling initial six rounds in Wijk aan Zee. Polgar got an unorganized position against him today and Carlsen picked apart her pawn weaknesses like Karpov, leaving her no chances. He has a tough test with black against a surging Topalov tomorrow.
Yes, it looks like the trademark Topalov Surge(tm) is underway. He won his second consecutive game today by completely outplaying Leko on the black side of a Sicilian. Leko seemed to get everything he wanted in positional plusses but Topalov kept dynamic chances alive. 28..g3! was a nice bone in the throat move. Leko should have bailed out with 36.Rxe4 instead of allowing the e-pawn to become a monster. Very impressive game from Topalov, keeping things unbalanced and finally finding a way through against the ultra-solid Leko, who had drawn his five previous games.
Kramnik played the novelty of the year, and maybe last year, with the amazing 25.Nc3 in the popular Anti-Moscow Semi-Slav we've been seeing so much of lately. And in a position Anand had declared "lost" for White after winning it from the black side in a rapid game against Radjabov in Mainz, 2006. This move flips that evaluation on its head and suddenly Black is struggling to survive a vicious attack. Kramnik continued to play nearly instantly as Aronian pondered his predicament. It seemed to Jon Speelman on Chess.FM that Kramnik played a little too quickly at several points, missing better attacking chances to move into an endgame that surprisingly wasn't clear at all. In fact, it seems like the four-rook ending is drawn with best play. Nice to have Spess commentating, as he's one of the world's best on rook endings. He showed how Black could defend passively until White was forced to for the famous rook with f and h pawns versus rook, which is drawn.
That's what happened and it looked like Kramnik's beautiful novelty was about to be wasted. Two extra pawns sound great, but actually this endgame isn't terribly hard. (Sez I, the one who doesn't have to play it against Kramnik with my clock ticking after six hours at the board.) You check your heart out and keep your king in front of the pawns. Eventually White has to play both pawns to the sixth rank and then his king can't escape the checks. That's just how it went, but Aronian forgot to play the checks! Kramnik bided his time, not advancing until Aronian's clock was low (no increment at Corus). Black is still drawing after 100..Ra7?! according to the tablebases, but it's much simpler just to keep checking laterally. If the king comes after the rook, the rook attacks the f-pawn. Easy draw. Aronian's brain and/or clock must have been fried. Instead, Aronian had to find a few only moves and he failed to find them. With the rook on f1 just checking isn't enough, but 103..Ra5+ 104.Kc6 Ra7 is still a draw. Nice play by Kramnik and all, especially the spectacular opening idea, but it was also heroic defense by Aronian just to survive that opening detonation. A pity he had to fudge it all in endgame zeitnot.
The other Group A games were draws of varying interest. Vishy was probably worse by the time he offered a draw to Ivanchuk and his Caro-Kann on move 18. van Wely didn't get anything against Gelfand and saw no reason to play chess. Adams defended well against Radjabov's use of the Ruy Exchange in the line that has amusing exchanges but ends up looking like a Berlin. Mamedyarov-Eljanov reached a humorous blockade position that neither could win.
Brooklyn was in full effect in the C Group, where ChessNinja.com newsletter annotator Irina Krush scored her first win, over top seed Caruana. Unfortunately, Fabiano's from Brooklyn! Can't win for losing around here...