The Candidates tournament which had gotten off to a sedate start on day one sputtered to life in round two,with Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov,both notching wins with white to take an early lead in London.
World No. 3 Aronian defeated last year’s finalist Boris Gelfand in 35 moves of the Reti opening,while Radjabov,ranked one spot below the Armenian,played well but was indebted to Vassily Ivanchuk’s blunder in his 34 move win. Favourite Magnus Carlsen settled for a quick draw with former champion Vladimir Kramnik,while Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler too signed truce,though after a slightly more protracted struggle.
The first game to get over was on the second board,with Kramnik holding Carlsen in 84 minutes.
Kramnik had said on Friday that it was difficult starting a tournament with two black games in a row and Carlsen too was not without his grouses,playing Aronian and Kramnik at the start. The caution then was obvious,and though the English opening reached uncharted territory around the 10th move,the pace of play alluded to both players being familiar with the position. The game ended in a draw after the mandatory 30 moves.
On the first board against Gelfand,Aronian retaining a smallish edge out of the opening,and caught his opponent cold when the Israeli tried to exchange rooks to simplify the middle game. Aronian’s brilliant bishop check at this point cornered the black king and with white’s advanced knight and pawns hemming in both of Gelfand’s bishops,leaving him suffocated. Unable to prevent white king’s march up field to collect his pawns,Gelfand resignes.
Radjabov too enjoyed a win that would have been sublime had it not been for his own late blunder which Ivanchuk overlooked. The World No 4 steadily picked away at Ivanchuk,kicking around a badly positioned rook until his position began falling apart. Ivanchuk had to give up his queen and a pawn for a rook and a bishop and was at the doorsteps of defeat when white blundered. Deep in time trouble,Ivanchuk couldn’t spot the continuation that would lead to three fold repetition and hence a draw,going on to resign on move 34.
Round one results: Aronian (0.5) bt Gelfand (0.5); Carlsen (0.5) drew with Kramnik (0.5); Radjabov (0.5) bt Ivanchuk (0.5); Grischuk (0.5) drew with Svidler (0.5)