Happily, it didn't take too long to get some decisive wins in the 2013 Candidates. Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov both won with the white pieces to seize the early lead with 1.5/2.
The first win of the tournament belongs to Aronian, who won a very nice game against Boris Gelfand. Gelfand chose a line against the English that has long had a reputation of being rather unpleasant, and so it was on this occasion as well. Gelfand suffered for a long time, but thought he was finally escaping when he played 25...Rc8. This was instead the losing move, and Aronian finished brilliantly - 30.g4!! was an especially fine idea. After bumpy starts in the 2007 World Championship and the last Candidates' event, it will be very interesting to see how he does when coming out to an early lead.
Radjabov's win over Vassily Ivanchuk was mostly convincing and even one-sided, but could have been ruined if Ivanchuk had a little more time at the end. Ivanchuk's handling of the Leningrad Dutch wasn't terribly convincing - 12...Rf7 in particular looked pretty dubious, and likewise his failure a bit later to play ...Bf8. After 17.Ng5! Black was pretty close to lost, and after 21.Bxe5! it was objectively resignable.
It turned out, however, that Ivanchuk started playing better at this point, and in mutual time trouble Radjabov started playing a bit worse. 29.Qxa7 was a somewhat risky decision, and then 33.Rxb6 was a blunder that went unpunished. Ivanchuk was in horrific time trouble; in fact, after 33...Bxb6 34.Qxb6 he lost on time making his next move. It would have taken him some time on the clock and a bit of imagination as well, but it looks like 33...g4!! (it seems g4 is the brilliant move of the day, for either side!) would have saved the game. This incredible possibility aside, the game was very one-sided, and not an auspicious beginning for Ivanchuk by any stretch.
The game that would have been the headline had either player won it was Magnus Carlsen vs. Vladimir Kramnik. Carlsen played a sideline in the Symmetrical English that resulted in a slight lead in development, but with a few accurate moves Kramnik neutralized the pressure and the game resulted in a very quick draw.
Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler also produced a draw in what is so far the only game in the tournament to begin with 1.e4. The game was always around equality in an Anti-Marshall, with perhaps first Grischuk and then Svidler enjoying a micro-edge. The game made it to the end of first time control, and was agreed drawn.
The games, with my notes, can be replayed here.
Standings After Round 2:
1-2. Aronian, Radjabov 1.5
3-6. Carlsen, Kramnik, Grischuk, Svidler 1
7-8. Ivanchuk, Gelfand .5
Round 3 Pairings:
- Gelfand - Carlsen
- Ivanchuk - Aronian
- Svidler - Radjabov
- Kramnik - Grischuk