Amber 2011 Full Review - Round 2, Rapid
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After a short break, the twelve Super-GM's were back for the rapid games. Some, like Aronian and Grischuk were keen to contine their good form, whereas others, such as Karjakin, Giri etc all really needed a good result.
Having drawn their earlier match, a win for either would give then the mini-match. Topalov went for a Caro-Kann with Black, and the game briefly seemed to be exciting as the players castled on opposite sides. However, soon afterwards, they went for a repetition of moves starting from the 23rd, and agreed to a draw which also meant that their mini-match was a 1-1 tie.
Kramnik had called the shots in the blindfold game but had to settle for a draw, and in this game too, he took an advantage straight out of the opening despite playing Black against the World Champion and top seed. By th 25th move, he had won a clear pawn with no compension in an ending with the minor pieces on both sides. Anand looked to be set for a defeat or atleast had to work extremely hard to get a draw until....
And Kramnik threw his entire advantage away in one move and had to agree to a draw. He was clearly frustated to only tie the mini-match, clearly believing that he should have won one, whereas by contrast, Anand was happy to escape both games with a draw.
Gelfand, looking to avenge his loss in the blindfold game, was able to equalize in the opening. As the game reached it's middlegame, Grischuk went for an attack on the Black king and ascrificed a piece for the purpose. Just like Gelfand's one in the blindfold was repulsed, this one was too, and when all the compliexites were cleared, Black had a winning rook ending. But, one always has to win a winning ending...
Grischuk thus escapes with a draw and wins the mini-match 1.5-0.5 and continues his strong start to the tournament with 3.5/4 after the first two rounds.
Having won the blindfold game, Carlsen decided to play the French defense in the rapid. He was able to equalize fairly quickly, and the game soon became an endgame as the queens were exchange early on. Gashimov held his own comfortably early own but used up too much time and started to make some inaccuracies. Carlsen just outplayed him during the endgame, ultimately reaching a position with a bishop against a knight, and passed pawns on both sides. Carlsen's bishop was able to stop Gashimov's pawns, and he used the weakness of the knight against passed pawns to get to a positions where one of his pawns was going to queen, forcing Gashimov's resignation and so winning the mini-match 2-0.
This game was uneventful, just like their earlier one. Both players were not in a mood to take too many risks after their disasters in Round 1, and most of the pieces were exchanged in the opening itself. By the 30th move, the game had simplified to a dead drawn rook endgame, and the players agreed to a draw soon after.
This game also followed a similar pattern to the blindfold game. Black was able to come out fine from the opening, and during the middlegame, a few inaccuracies were played by both players. Again it was Nakamura who came out with the advantage and he pushed Aronian in a rook and bishop endgame with an extra pawn. Aronian was up to the task, and a mistake by Nakamura on the 48th move confirmed that it was a draw. This meant that Nakamura's hanging of his rook was all the more costly as Aronian now won the mini-match 1.5-0.5, and joins Carlsen and Grischuk as the leaders with 3.5/4.
After two rounds, the standings were: