Anish Giri entered the round in first with 3.5 points, half a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi. They played in round 5, with Giri getting the white pieces. Nepomniachtchi sacrificed a pawn early on for activity, and while Giri managed to keep the pawn and neutralize his opponent's counterplay, the cost of doing so was a drawn rook ending. At least it was drawn with correct play, and "Nepo" achieved that standard.
In fact all but one of the day's games were drawn. Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik had a somewhat similar game, except that Kramnik had to suffer more before reaching the rook ending and required a higher degree of accuracy to hold it. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had White against Peter Svidler, but was a bit worse in the early middlegame. By reaching an opposite-colored bishop ending, he was able to avoid any serious trouble - though he too had to save the game a pawn in arrears. Finally, Li Chao and Evgeny Tomashevsky drew as well, and without either player suffering a material deficit.
The one winner was Viswanathan Anand, who bounced back from yesterday's loss to Kramnik to beat poor Boris Gelfand, who has lost four games in a row. Opposite-colored bishop endings are more drawish than most other endings, but that's primarily when there are only the bishops. In this game both players had both rooks as well, and Anand showed that the ending wasn't drawish at all. To avoid the sure loss that would result from passive defense Gelfand came up with the dynamic double pawn sac 33...Rd8 followed by 36...e3, but Anand's counter-sac with 37.Bxe3 resulted in a prospectless ending for Gelfand. Anand had a rook and four pawns (three connected queenside passers, plus an f-pawn) against Gelfand's rook and bishop. With best play, maybe Gelfand could have held it (emphasis on "maybe"), but with his king cut off on the kingside his chances of saving the game were slim indeed. If there was a way to do it, he didn't find it, and Anand won comfortably.
Here are the pairings for round 6 on Sunday (Monday is the next rest day):
- Kramnik (2.5) - Gelfand (.5)
- Tomashevsky (1.5) - Anand (3)
- Svidler (2) - Li Chao (3)
- Nepomniachtchi (3.5) - Mamedyarov (2.5)
- Aronian (2.5) - Giri (4)