In the other Russian derby, Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler fought in the Taimanov Sicilian. White quickly expanded in the center, while black looked for his chances on the queenside.
The black knight remained strained on the edge of the board, but it still performed an important function of defending the f5-square.
Apparently neither of the players saw a possibility to create winning chances and the game ended with moves repetition.
The pairings were known well in advance and all participants had more than enough time to prepare for specific opponents. Svidler said that he checked many lines and he thought there was a big probability that this setup will occur. This morning he spent three hours repeating all the variations, but somehow he forgot to look at 8.f4.
Karjakin said that he also expected this line but he forgot the preparation.
Svidler was pleased that he survived the initial assault but he just couldn’t see how to develop the play. He felt stuck. there was an option to open the game with 23…fxe4 24.bxc4 bxc4 25.Ka1 where black would get some counterplay on the queenside, but his knight would still remain out of play. Karjakin suggested 24…Rxc4 as possible improvement and Svidler admitted that he didn’t really look at this as “opening the b-file felt natural”.