The second cycle of the Candidates' tournament got underway, and with a bang. This round reprised the pairings from round 1 (with colors reversed), and with very different results. In round 1 all the games were drawn, but this time only the battle between the leaders, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian, finished peacefully. Carlsen generally tries to create open-ended play out of the opening, but for once he failed in that respect. Aronian was able to kill the play on the black side of an Open Catalan, and so they remain tied for first.
Their lead shrunk to a full point in the wake of Vladimir Kramnik's win over Peter Svidler. They have had many battles in the Exchange Gruenfeld over the years, with Kramnik winning a pretty fair percentage with the white pieces. White's most obvious advantage in the Exchange Variation is his mass of central pawns, and in this game Kramnik was able to use it to squeeze Svidler into submission.
Alexander Grischuk defeated Vassily Ivanchuk in a rather sad game. Ivanchuk was doing fine over the board up until the very end, but once again got into desperate - and needless - time trouble and flagged. This was Grischuk's first win in the event, and it brought him back to 50%.
Boris Gelfand also won his first game of the event, making it back to a -1 score. He thoroughly and speedily outplayed Teimour Rajdabov with the black pieces, finishing in crushing style.
The games can be replayed here, with my comments.
Standings After Round 8 (of 14):
1-2. Carlsen, Aronian 5.5
3. Kramnik 4.5
4. Grischuk 4
5-6. Svidler, Gelfand 3.5
7. Radjabov 3
8. Ivanchuk 2.5
Round 9 Pairings:
- Kramnik - Carlsen
- Svidler - Grischuk
- Ivanchuk - Radjabov
- Gelfand - Aronian