After the day-off, the grandmasters darted into a fight with a renewed vigor and produced three decisive outcomes. For the first time in this tournament, no Armageddon game was needed.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who made just one draw and lost three games, showed his mettle and toppled the leader Magnus Carlsen. The game saw the line of Caro-Kann defense that the World Champion played once against Peter Svidler in 2018. Unlike Peter, Jan-Krzysztof Duda opted for a more aggressive plan, castled long, and got quite a promising position.
On move 19 Magnus correctly sacrificed an exchange and got sufficient compensation but in the subsequent tactical fight, Jan-Krzysztof was more precise and resourceful. The tension was there till the very end but eventually, the Pole repulsed all the threats and forced the resignation of the World Champion. Duda ended Magnus’ unbeaten streak in classical games (125!) that lasted two years, two months, and ten days.
Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana tested waters in a sharp line of Nimzo-Indian. The opposite-side castling led to a tense battle in which the Armenian GM was a half-step ahead. The American traded queens but even without the strongest pieces Black’s activity on the queenside was quite unpleasant for White. Trying to get off the hook Caruana sacrificed an exchange and got sufficient compensation but on move 30 misplaced his knight – 30.Ne2? (30.Nd3 was much better). Levon immediately spotted the opponent’s mistake and comfortably converted his extra exchange. This win propelled Aronian to the top position.
Alireza Firouzja played a nice strategic game with Aryan Tari. On move 20 Firouzja (White) offered an interesting pawn sacrifice which the opponent accepted but did not foresee all the consequences and quickly went astray. Firouzja regained a pawn, transposed into a favorable endgame, and smoothly sailed to a victory. Alireza is the clear second, just one point behind Levon Aronian.
Photo: Lennart Ootes
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