The four players will enter day three in a tie, as both classical time control games ended in a draw again today. The all American game finished in under an hour while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had to earn his half a point with some effort after an opening surprise. Tomorrow promises to bring more excitement with the two rapid and four blitz games on the schedule. The two winners will enter the finals were they will battle it out for a total prize fund of $200,000 while the other two players will play for the third place and the $100,000 prize fund.
Hikaru Nakamura vs Fabiano Caruana ½-½
Caruana’s pet line, the Petroff, was once again put to test. The players repeated the game between Karjakin and Giri that was played during Leuven, the first stop of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour. Caruana wasn’t looking for adventures with the black pieces, whereas Nakamura expected his opponent to be very well prepared coming fresh from the World Championship match and did not expect to get an advantage out of the opening. Nakamura, who is one of the best rapid and blitz players in the world, seemed to have employed Carlsen’s strategy of drawing his classical games and relying on his fast time control skills to qualify to the finals.
Hikaru Nakamura before the game
Levon Aronian vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½-½
Once again, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave found himself under pressure after Levon Aronian employed a rare move in the Frenchman’s favorite line in the English. Vachier-Lagrave could not remember his preparation and blamed himself for it. After winning a pawn, Aronian misplayed at the critical moment, allowing his opponent to get enough counterplay in the endgame. When the alternative idea was pointed out to him, the Armenian superstar exclaimed, “Oh my god, of course I missed it; that's embarrassing. How embarrassing is this!” The Frenchman’s defensive resources were enough to guarantee him a tie match in the classical.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave tries to remember his preparation facing a surprise