By defeating Humpy Koneru with the white pieces in game 7 of their women's world chess championship match, Hou Yifan has moved to the verge of retaining her title. She leads the 10-game match 5-2, and needs just half a point from the last three games to win the match. My impression was that Koneru was unsure if she should play for a draw, which was probably the appropriate reaction from her position out of the opening, or if she should instead try for more in light of the match score. Whatever the cause of her uncertain play, the result was a very pleasant position for Hou, who reached a winning ending after the first time control. Her technique was less than stellar, but it was good enough.
In the Tal Memorial in Moscow, the run of draws finally came to an end when Hikaru Nakamura lost (with White) to Vassily Ivanchuk. The other four games were drawn. Anand-Carlsen and Karjakin-Aronian were "flat" draws - games without big imbalances or dramatic moments. Gelfand-Kramnik was a little more lively, with some material imbalances, but there too neither player ever seemed to be in danger of winning. The draw of the round, by a big margin, was Svidler-Nepomniachtchi. The opening was an English that can arise via the French or Sicilian (e.g. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 Nc6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Be2 d5 6.exd5 exd5 7.d4 etc.), and Svidler pushed for a long time. It was a good fight, and the players both showed their resourcefulness: Svidler in keeping the action going, and Nepomniachtchi in holding under the pressure.
With two rounds to go, there are now five leaders - half the field is in first! Aronian, Carlsen, Karjakin, Ivanchuk and Nepomniachtchi all have 4/7, just half a point ahead of Anand and Svidler. Kramnik has 3 points, and Nakamura and Gelfand are tied for last with 2.5.