Leader Nakamura took a DIY rest day in San Sebastian after running out to an incredible 4.5/5 start. He played a forced drawing line of the Najdorf against one of his two closest pursuers, Ruslan Ponomariov. They played just 14 moves without ever exiting theory, leaving Nakamura in clear first by a point with three rounds to go. (Play can continue if White wants, but there is also a forced repetition they didn't bother to play out.) Today's non-game was no doubt disappointing for fans of Nakamura and of chess in general, but as in most of these cases there are endless arguments for why such a draw makes perfect sporting sense for both the players. (Svidler, who is tied with Ponomariov a point behind of Nakamura, also used the white pieces to draw in just 12 moves against Vallejo, which makes less sense to me.) This is why, as I say for the 1000th time, Sofia rules or something similar are needed.
Of course even Sofia rules wouldn't prevent the repetition draw line Nakamura played today. You can't force a player to lose and there are many well-known drawing lines like this one they can use instead of playing. If doing that becomes a pattern of behavior, subverting the intent if not the letter of the rules, then the only defense is to stop inviting those players. But I think we are quite far from that and the Sofia rules have proven largely successful. (The average length of the draws at MTel is usually over 40 moves. Dortmund was 32. Dortmund also had ten draws of 25 or fewer moves; MTel had zero.) And of course this is far from the case with someone like Nakamura, whose combative attitude is well known. The bottom line is that players are smart enough to use the rules to their advantage, so if this is really going to be considered a problem and a solution is wanted, legislation will be needed.
FYI, Nakamura used some of his extra free time to add another detailed and insightful entry on the event to his blog, so definite compensation there! Hey, there's an idea for an organizer. Anyone who plays a short draw has to write an update for the official website or something like that.
The crosstable remains quite unbalanced, with three undefeated players at the top and San Segundo and Karpov taking most of the damage at the bottom. Both lost again today, Karpov's loss with white to Movsesian being particularly painful. He played very well in a sharp position and it looked like the veteran might score his first win of the event. Kasparov sounded cheerful about this possibility for his old rival, Garry gaining no joy from watching his great predecessor bashed around by kids who couldn't carry Karpov's stamp collection back in the day. Speaking of those kids, Kasparov did have praise for Nakamura's will to win in every game, if not today's obviously. (Regular readers know Garry rarely casually compliments chess quality and is more interested in effort and attitude. I've actually been a little surprised with his interest in Nakamura and San Sebastian since he usually only has words for the top ten. My guess is that Nakamura's recent surge has put him back on the radar.)
Back in Karpov-Movsesian, White must have been completely winning after his 30.Rh6! Killing the black attack with 31.Bd2 would have just about wrapped it up. But it was not to be and Karpov made a few small slips and then a few big ones to get blown out of the water once he was in increment time. That gave Movsesian his first win of the event, a stat that is itself something of a surprise for the sharply-inclined Slovakian representative. Back when this event was announced Movsesian was the top seed, but his fall from the top ten has been steep and he'll lose more points here unless he does very well in the final three rounds. He may even have an impact on the tournament since he has yet to face Nakamura, which happens in the eighth round.
Kasimjanov also scored his first victory, slowly outplaying Granda in a tactical melee. Granda isn't doing well, but he never backs down from a chance to complicate. Here he pinned his hopes on an advanced pair of pawns only to be surprised when Kasimjanov snapped one of them off the board. Black resigns because White gets his piece back by playing a rook to the c-file after the knight exchanges, x-raying the bishop on c7. Vachier-Lagrave returned to a positive score with a very attractive king walk up the board against San Segundo. The beauty of the idea is illustrated if White takes the c-pawn with 27..Rxc3 28.Kd4 Ra3 29.Kc5 and White dominates the queenside. I'm not sure if San Segundo flagged or not, as the final position is tough for Black but not readily resignable.
With three rounds to play Nakamura has black against a choppy but always-dangerous Granda. The rest of round 7: Ponomariov-Vachier-Lagrave, San Segundo-Svidler, Movsesian-Kasimjanov, Vallejo-Karpov. If you're calculating Nakamura's chances of coasting home, note that Svidler and Ponomariov face off in the 9th round. It's hard to imagine anyone catching him unless he loses a game.