Svidler v Aronian
A slightly odd English opening produced a small edge for Peter Svidler of Russia, but Levon Aronian of Armenia found the moves to escape any long-term problems, though he was temporarily down a pawn. In the end, the players agreed to a draw in a rook-and-pawn endgame where no one could make any progress.
Karjakin v Anand
A strange opening by Sergey Karjakin of Russia, who had White against Viswanathan Anand of India. But while Anand struggled to find a concrete plan, Karjakin was able to saddle Anand with hanging pawns on the c and d files. Anand eventually advanced one of them, which was traded off, but that left the other one very weak and with Anand having to play passive defense. Such a position is ideal for Karjakin, whose technical skills are second to none and he slowly ground Anand down. Anand resigned as Karjakin was about to win a pawn and be able to force a trade of all remaining pieces, leaving with an easily won king-and-pawn ending.
Giri v Nakamura
Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Anish Giri of the Netherlands engaged in a theoretical dual in a complicated variation of the Semi-Slav Defense. In the press conference, both players said they had analyzed the line very deeply and though Giri’s king was flushed out into the open, all the moves were correct. So Nakamura forced a draw by perpetual.
Caruana v Topalov
Fabiano Caruana had a great chance against the tail-ender in the tournament, Veselin Topalov, but he let it slip away. The opening was an Italian game and, as is typical of that opening, it led to a game of slow maneuvering. Topalov is typically not happy in that sort of a game and always tries to make something happen, which Caruana may have been counting on. The upshot was that Topalov loaded up on the kingside and neglected the queenside. When he made his break, it did not amount to much, but Caruana’s pieces came streaming in on the opposide wing. He won the d pawn and it seemed that Topalov’s position was about to collapse. But somehow Caruana missed the killing blow. Topalov found enough counterplay and, in a rook-and-pawn endgame, Caruana could not seal the deal.
The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com