Aside from a 19-move draw between Dominguez and Ponomariov, the action in round 2 of the FIDE Grand Prix event in Thessaloniki was plentiful once more. The other two draws had more life: Bacrot-Kasimdzhanov tested the suddenly resurgent Exchange Gruenfeld with 8.Rb1, while Topalov-Kamsky was a more offbeat Gruenfeld that saw Kamsky do most of the pressing.
In none of those three games was anyone really close to winning, but that obviously can't be said about the other three contests. Morozevich-Svidler was a startling blowout, won by White in just 22 moves. Morozevich played the Spanish Four Knights, and Svidler played Rubinstein's well-known pawn sacrifice. Morozevich returned the pawn for queenside play, and it seems that Svidler was a bit too interested in making something happen on the kingside rather than neutralizing his opponent's queenside play. The plan with 16...e4 and 17...Rh6 was a bit too optimistic, and 18...Nh4 was far too optimistic. Moro calculated and captured his way to what was by the end an overwhelming victory.
The second decisive game went considerably longer, with Caruana grinding down Ivanchuk on the white side of a Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Variation. In fact Black's position was tenable for a long time, but 44...Kf6 was a mistake that let White's queenside passers decide the game. Black probably should have played 44...Ra6, and on 45.Rd5 Rba7, freezing White's a- and b-pawns for the time being. Failing to do so, he was quickly overrun.
Finally, the third game was still longer - it went 121 moves! Nakamura was again the victim, as he was in round 1, of an impressive technical endgame won by his opponent. Grischuk grabbed a couple of pawns on the white side of a Neo-Archangelsk Ruy, and although his pawn structure was pretty ugly he managed to keep his material advantage into an endgame. After White's 52nd move both sides had a rook and a dark-squared bishop, while White had doubled f-pawns and a d-pawn against Black's lone f-pawn. No pawns were exchanged for the rest of the game, but the rooks came off at move 90. White eventually won by combining threats to Black's f-pawn with the power of his passed d-pawn (the "principle of two weaknesses" in action). Not a pleasant start for Nakamura: two blacks, 190 moves, and zero points. At least he's warmed up.
Round 3 Pairings (Scores in parentheses):
- Kamsky (1.5) - Grischuk (1.5)
- Ponomariov (1) - Topalov (1)
- Ivanchuk (.5) - Dominguez (.5)
- Svidler (1) - Caruana (1.5)
- Kasimdzhanov (1.5) - Morozevich (1.5)
- Nakamura (0) - Bacrot (.5)