Round two continued in the same vein as round one with two decisive games and five draws. Jakovenko and Kamsky was a tactical and sharp game, with many spectators unsure if the Russian would bounce back from his round 1 defeat and win, or if the tough defending American would be able to hold the position. Black seemed to come out of the opening well after white missed a potential strong reply (if white had played 15 Bd6 then black had 15…Nc5! after which it is white who would have had problems). However, errors such as 17…Be5? and 21…Nf3+?? handed white back the advantage. White’s dark-squared bishop seemed to watch over the entire board, not moving for the last dozen moves of the game, while white parried away black’s counterattacking ideas and brought home the win.
The other decisive game of the day saw one of the pre-tournament favorites and hometown star Levon Aronian grind down Alekseev from Russia in a pawn-up queen endgame. The Armenian nursed a small opening advantage and through some middlegame tactics won a pawn, but it was not clear that this would be enough. With his opponent in time-trouble, Aronian played 40 h5? when 40 Qf5 Kg8 41 gf gf 42 Qd7 with the imminent advance of the h5 would have led to an easier path to victory. The game saw the Russian play some less than optimal moves and Aronian was able to secure the win.
Akopian-Cheparinov saw the two grapple over a Spanish opening in which
white never had all that much of an advantage. Even after most of the
material came off, the Armenian tried to get something out of the
position, but the Bulgarian held firm and the point was split.
Karjakin and Gelfand played a Petroff and after some pieces came off,
Gelfand was stuck with a rook somewhat strangely placed on h5.
However, it was not so easy for the young Ukrainian to exploit this
apparent advantage and after some more trades the game petered out into
Bacrot and Kasimdzhanov followed nearly the same script with another
Petroff, and in proper style of the solid but insipid opening, another
less-than-captivating position arose. Neither player chose to risk
losing by launching an all-or-nothing attack, and the draw was soon
agreed after they repeated the position.
Leko-Eljanov was one of the longest games of the day, with a game that
went back and forth. The first half of the game saw the Hungarian
build up pressure and seem very close to victory. After 43…Nc5, white
could have tried the exchange sacrifice 44. Rxc5! with the idea of
Ne3-Ng4 combined with Qh6 and mating threats against the black
monarch. However, Leko’s more cautious approach gave Eljanov a chance
to counterattack in the center, creating enough to attain a draw.
was another fierce struggle that ended in a draw. Black made one
mistake in the middlegame after which it looked hopeless for the
Ukrainian star: a pawn down, bad structure and a bad position. It
seemed that this would be enough for white to win, but Ivanchuk’s
ferocious defense, together with Inarkiev’s time trouble and his
missing of a few key moves led to a spectacular save by Ivanchuk in a
knight endgame. An unfortunate miss for Inarkiev.
Aronian, Leko, and Cheparinov are early leaders with 1.5 out of 2. Round three begins Tuesday 3:00 local time.