Today's round at Wijk aan Zee was simply remarkable! Starting from the top: Tournament leader Levon Aronian came into the round not just doing well on the scoreboard but playing very good chess. His round 11 opponent was David Navara, who was having an absolutely terrible event. Better still, Aronian had White. Did it matter? Not a bit. Aronian was outplayed by Navara, and though he put up heroic resistance he still went down to defeat in the second time control.
Okay, so that meant that the coast was clear for Vassily Ivanchuk to catch Aronian in first, or at least give it a good run. He had White against Boris Gelfand, and Gelfand too has had a pretty bad event. So, of course...Ivanchuk lost. He tried to get blood from a stone, and the usual result is that it's the person's blood that ends up on the stone. His 26.a4 was doubtlessly intended as a temporary pawn sac; it turned out to be a gift that Gelfand used to win the game.
Next up: Magnus Carlsen. He had White against his regular customer, Veselin Topalov. Surely he'll win, right? He didn't get anything out of the opening either, and then he went bonkers a la Tal, throwing all his pieces at Topalov's king and sacrificing anything that slowed him down. Topalov was winning, but happily for Carlsen and for fans of berzerk chess, he (Topalov) chose the panicky 25...Qxf7. 25...Bd3 would have maintained a winning edge; instead, the position became very unclear. Carlsen had more time and the initiative, and managed after all to score a full point.
Three of the other four games finished with a winner as well. Sergey Karjakin broke both his streak and Loek van Wely's by defeating him. That brought one-draw Karjakin back to 50% while sending van Wely to -1 after the latter's first non-draw. In the battle of Azeris, Teimour Radjabov beat Vugar Gashimov, and in the battle of teenagers Fabiano Caruana beat Anish Giri. The one draw was in the battle for American bragging rights. Hikaru Nakamura grabbed a pawn early on, but Gata Kamsky's dogged defense helped him save the game. (I haven't looked closely, but my impression was that Nakamura really should have pulled out the victory.)
After 11 of 13 rounds, here are the standings:
1. Aronian 7.5
2-3. Carlsen, Radjabov 7
4-5. Caruana, Ivanchuk 6.5
6. Nakamura 6
7-8. Kamsky, Karjakin 5.5
9-10. Gelfand, van Wely 5
11-13. Topalov, Gashimov, Giri 4
14. Navara 3.5
Round 12 Pairings:
- Topalov - Giri
- Navara - Caruana
- Gelfand - Aronian
- Radjabov - Ivanchuk
- Karjakin - Gashimov
- Nakamura - van Wely
- Carlsen - Kamsky
In Group B, there was more of the same. Pentala Harikrishna had been (and still is) leading, and had been dominant, but in this round he was beaten relatively convincingly by Sipke Ernst. Harikrishna still leads with 8/11, but Alexander Motylev and Erwin L'Ami are just half a point behind.
In Group C, Maxim Turov was also in trouble, but managed to draw. Hans Tikkanen won, and they share the lead with 8.5/11. Top seed Matthew Sadler tried heroically, but he went back to his drawing ways and remains two points back with two rounds to go.