So, Wesley vs Kramnik, Vladimir ½
The tournament leader made a practical decision of playing a safe game and not taking any unnecessary risks, as he was a full point ahead of Kramnik entering the round. Kramnik explained that taking big risks in the opening with black at the top level simply means one will lose the game; therefore, he just played his normal solid opening, letting the burden of feeling the pressure to win fall on his opponent’s shoulder. After many exchanges, the game ended in a draw once the required 30 move minimum was met. After the game, Kramnik praised his opponent immensely, calling him the best player of the year and a future contender for the world championship title.
Nakamura, Hikaru vs Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 1-0
After getting blown off the board yesterday, Nakamura used the same line Caruana used to annihilate him. Black was first to deviate from yesterday’s game, but Nakamura came up with a new idea that posed different kinds of problems for his opponent. Vachier-Lagrave is a Najdorf specialist, but, once again in this tournament, he found himself out-prepared. Unfortunately, in a sharp position, each mistake is very costly and the pressure to find the most accurate moves just to survive proved to be an impossible task for the Frenchman. Nakamura played a brilliant tactical game, showing off his flawless calculation in the postgame analysis and ended the game in true Nakamura style.