Ruslan Ponomariov and Veselin Topalov both shared their impressions of round two of the Candidates' tournament with R-Sport. The Ukrainian GM praised Nakamura on the surface, but, given his permanently ironic tone, it was hard to know what he meant when he spoke of the "American's impudent play with both White and Black". Was this a compliment, a criticism or sarcasm? Or maybe all three? 

Topalov, in his turn, regretted that he had refrained from a promising sacrifice in the previous round (see our report on round one), and then reminisced about the final of the FIDE knocout in 2002, when he assisted Ruslan. He recalled that another of the winner's team, in the role of "tactics specialist", was the then 12-year old Sergey Karjakin...  

After this diversion, lovers of mystics and fatal coincidences will guess where the day's main event occurred. 

Karjakin - Nakamura

White is pressing, but not so much as to make one think it will all be over in ten more moves...Here Sergey exploited a subtle psychological trick – 29.h2-h4 (!) Provocation on the Mexican border! One could almost see the bloodthirsty gleam in the samurai's eyes, as there followed  29…Nxg3 30.fxg3 Nxd4 31.Bxd4 Bxd4 32.exd4 Qe3 33.Qf2 Qxd3. «All is well?»

Karjakin - Nakamura

34.Rc1-c7 – «My jaw dropped», – as one well-known GM said in such a case. After  34…f5 35.Rxb7 h6 36.Bxd5 Kh7 37.Bg2 Re2 38.Bf1 Black resigned (1:0) And thus the Muscovite jumped to 1-2 place in the table, as at the same moment, Anand and Aronian agreed a somewhat academic draw. 

Probably neither Svidler nor Topalov felt terribly aggressive today. The St Petersburg Anglophile is not generally like that, and as for the Bulgarian...It takes some time to recover from the blow suffered in the first round. Experience and the wisdom of years tells one not to sharpen the game in such circumstances. Things may have been different 20 years ago, but, on the other hand, as has been pointed out, chessplayers are not gladiators, one of whom is destined not to leave the arena alive. Peace was declared on move 30, in an absolutely dead position. Draw ( ½ : ½ )    

It is interesting how quickly the ratings table changes in modern chess. Before the London Candidates' in 2013, several experts saw Caruana as a potential challenger, noting his rapid rise in rating, whereas nobody ever mentioned Giri. But here we are, just three years later, and these two youngsters are among the favourites, and nobody is surprised! 

Caruana - Giri

White's position looks promising, thanks to the pawn on e6. Fabiano was probably a bit disturbed by the exposed position of his king, and thought the time had not yet come to burn his bridges. 28.Qb5 (Stockfish liked the more direct 28.Nf5) and the queens came off. Giri demonstrated a precise path to equality. Draw ( ½ : ½ )   


Material: Sergey Kim