Day two had plenty of exciting games and a slight shifting in the standings. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had a spectacular day, with two wins and a draw, which enabled him to catapult to clear first place. Vishy Anand kept his position near the top by drawing his games today, while Duda moved to tied 2nd by beating Mamedyarov in round 5. Alex Grischuk also had a good day by going +1, while Fabi had a rough one, plunging to 50% after losing twice. Let’s take a look at each round in more detail.
Vishy stole Sascha’s e5 pawn in the opening, and looked to be on his way towards securing the tournament lead. Despite his usual lack of time, however, Grischuk managed to muddy the waters and he accurately calculated to a draw in a king and pawn endgame. Shakh got a dominating position out of the opening against Nepo, and used it to cruise to his first victory of the tournament. Hikaru got a very nice advantage against Duda, but the resourceful Polish player kept the position complex. Naka was eventually forced to give a perpetual when he couldn’t find a favorable way to trade queens. Dubov sacrificed a pawn in the opening against Fabi, then gave away half of his army in order to force a perpetual. Anish blitzed out a bunch of prep on the white side of a Najdorf against MVL, and got an exchange up endgame that looked good for him. Despite that, MVL had two knights that were difficult to control, and eventually they converged on White’s king in a whirlwind that forced immediate resignation.
MVL had every reason to be happy about his performance on Day 2
MVL sacrificed a pawn for an endgame initiative against Fabi. Caruana sacrificed an exchange, but in the end it wasn’t enough, and eventually the Frenchman ground out a key victory. Dubov blundered a piece against Grischuk in a roughly balanced position, and Black eventually completed the tricky technical task and snuffed out White’s tricks. Vishy and Hikaru simplified the game early and agreed to a quick draw. Duda took advantage of an oversight by Shakh Mamedyarov, then trapped the Azeri’s knight in an endgame to coerce resignation. Anish got a comfortable position on the Black side of a Najdorf, and Nepo decided to initiate a flurry of exchanges to force a draw.
Grischuk used his victory over Dubov put himself on a plus score
Grischuk aggressively launched his h pawn against MVL’s Grunfeld, but the position dried out soon after. The players agreed to a draw when a balanced bishop endgame was reached. Fabi won a pawn out of the opening against Ian, but Black managed to create confusion using his queen. Eventually Caruana blundered in a complex ending, and Nepo was able to take the full point. Duda was under pressure against Vishy, both from the position and the clock. He managed to simplify to an endgame, however, and the players forced three-fold repetition. Shakh got a huge advantage against Giri, and while Anish fought back later, his lack of time eventually did him in. Dubov parted with an exchange and his kingside against Naka, and while the position looked tricky to win for a while, Hikaru made it look all too easy. He ended the game with a nice mate.
Hikaru has had a rough event by his standards, but he moved up to 50% with a round 6 win
Round 7 starts tomorrow at 3pm local time (8am Central). Tune into the live show with GM Peter Svidler, WGM Jenn Shahade, GM Alejandro Ramirez, and GM Maurice Ashley.