The colors may have switched in all the games of the second cycle of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial, but two rounds in all the results have been the same. Magnus Carlsen was the only winner in rounds 1 and 2, and he was the only winner in rounds 6 & 7. The second double-up came out Wil E. Coyote's Hikaru Nakamura's expense. Nakamura came out of the opening with a good position against Carlsen (or at least one both players felt was more comfortable for him), and soon obtained excellent winning chances. Carlsen has not fared well against the 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian in terms of the quality of his positions, but putting him away is another matter.
Nakamura had a nice opportunity for a clear advantage with 26.Nxh5, but played 26.Nxd3 believing that after 26...Nxd3 27.Qe3 Rb7 28.Nxh5 was winning. Indeed it would be if Carlsen played 28...Qxb2 as he had anticipated - 29.f6 would be crushing. But Nakamura had overlooked 28...Qh6, after which White's advantage was but a slight one. All the same, there was no good chess reason for Nakamura to lose, especially after Carlsen's inaccurate 31...Ne5. Time trouble did its damage though, and White's 33rd, 35th, 36th and 37th moves were all imprecise, and by the end of the time control (move 40) Nakamura was in trouble. Maybe there were still some very slim hopes with 42.Nxd6, though after 42...Kg7 followed by 43...Kf6 White's knight is in deep trouble and Black also threatens a lethal attack after ...Rg8. After the move in the game, 42.Nd4, Carlsen had a nice win with 42...b3, which he missed. Still, Carlsen's choice was good enough, and with accurate play he converted the advantage into a win.
As mentioned, the other two games were drawn, so Teimour Radjabov falls half a point behind Carlsen going into round 8. Here are the pairings:
- Mamedyarov (2.5) - Nakamura (3)
- Carlsen (4.5) - Karjakin (3.5)
- Caruana (3.5) - Radjabov (4)
(In case you're curious, in the first cycle Nakamura beat Mamedyarov and the other games were drawn.)