There were "only" three wins today at the Sinquefield Cup, but they were exciting and eventful games all featuring the world champions. Veselin Topalov outplayed Hikaru Nakamura, and is now the only player with a perfect score. Their game was a 4.d3 Berlin, and while it went into an ending rather quickly it was of a very different character than the ending of the main line Berlin. Nakamura's 15...f5 was a mistake, at least from a practical point of view. He won a pawn but gave Topalov two terrific bishops, and the former FIDE champion eventually regained his material, with interest. Theirs was the last game to finish, but Topalov was in control almost from start to finish.
Another game where the winner enjoyed control through most of the game was Alexander Grischuk vs. Viswanathan Anand. Grischuk essayed the London System, an opening he generally uses in blitz rather than classical games, but based on a blitz game the same players had last year Grischuk thought it would be worth a try in a slower game as well. He was right. Anand hadn't looked at the opening in a serious way, and Grischuk soon enjoyed a serious and long-lasting advantage. Both players had improvements here and there, but in general White was always for choice and Anand didn't even make it to the time control before having to surrender. Anand is now 0-2, and for Grischuk this was his first-ever win against Anand in a classical game.
A game where the winner was only in control after the final move was the tragedy or farce between Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen. Their game was a complicated Ruy Lopez that was unclear for the first half of the game, but as Caruana entered serious time trouble (he had something like 70 seconds to make his last 13 moves) Carlsen played worse and had to go from time trouble to almost equally catastrophic time trouble as well. In the scramble that followed Caruana was always better, and the question - barring a loss on time or a catastrophic blunder - was whether the advantage would be serious by the time the players reached the time control. Unfortunately for Caruana, his last move, on the last move of the time control with both players down to a couple of seconds or so, was a gross blunder. The move was played practically as a reflex action, and it lost the game on the spot. A tragedy for Caruana, but the clock is part of the game.
The other two games were drawn. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave didn't achieve anything against Levon Aronian, while Anish Giri may have had some chances against Wesley So but didn't manage to take advantage of them.
The games, with my comments, are here, and these are the pairings for round 3:
- So (.5) - Grischuk (1)
- Aronian (1.5) - Giri (1.5)
- Carlsen (1) - Vachier-Lagrave (1.5)
- Nakamura (1) - Caruana (0)
- Anand (0) - Topalov (2)