In the eighth round of the Fide Grand Prix in Tashkent five out of six games finished in a draw. The only decisive result happened in the game Kamsky-Leko. Hungarian player managed to win the first game in the tournament after seven draws. Before the second free day (1st of December) the situation in the tournament didn’t change significantly – Caruana and Karjakin keep leading with five out of 8 points. Alexander Morozevich, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Peter Leko are half a point behind.
Mamedyarov and Ponomariov were first to finish their game after roughly two hours of play. Ukrainian grandmaster used to play Queens Gambit Accepted, so Shahriyar was ready for it and decided to play the most principal line with 3.e4. As Azeri player explained during the press-conference, he was not familiar with Ruslan's 12...Nxe3, which recently happened in the game Tomashevsky - Romanov (Eilat, 2012). 16. Qb3+ was already a novelty as abovementioned game was continued with 16.a4. White's play looked logical but Mamedyarov didn’t get any advantage. in order to complicate matters he decided to sacrifice an exchange by simply leaving his rook under attack of opponents knight after 21.Ne2. Instead of accepting the sacrifice (which looks quite dubious according to the engine) Ponomariov found the way to repeat the moves, and White had no convenient way to resist a draw.
Caruana – Karjakin 1/2-1/2
In the game of the leaders a Catalan opening was played. Sergey went to one of the most solid lines - 6...dc4, where White can't hope for more than just a slight edge. Fabiano's 11.Nh4, which seems to be a novelty, failed to prove the opposite, as after natural moves Black got reasonable play. Both players agreed after the game that all Black’s problems were solved after18...Ne4. However, it was never too late to get into a trap on 25th move, as careless 25...Nd6 26. Rc6 Ke7 27. Rxa6 Rxa6 28.Rxa6 would leave Black in the ending pawn down (28...Rxb2 loses on a spot after 29. Rxb6).
Gelfand – Dominguez 1/2-1/2
Once again Lenier changed his opening on 1. d4 and this time he went for Kings Indian. Boris played one of his main systems - 9.Nd2 in so-called Classical Variation and was immediately surprised by 9...c6, as main 9...a5 is much more common. It's really hard to suggest anything concrete for White as his play seemed logical, but after precise 16...Bf6, he failed to get any advantage. Later on Black got comfortable play and could have tried to get some initiative after 24…Rc7, proposed by Boris Gelfand suring the press-onference. A sequence of forced moves after 28. h4 h5 finally lead to perpetual check.
Svidler – Kazimdzhanov 1/2-1/2
Peter decided not to compete with Rustam in depth of preparation in Marshal or Anti-Marshal and played 1.Nf3 instead, but even in the Reti Kazimdzanov seems to have his own opinion on what to do! Peter was blaming himself after the game for 10. Qc2, as a logical follow up of this move - 11. e4 had never happened in the game, as it seemed to be too risky. Black equalized easily after precise 17...Bc3 and 18...d4, and the position where they've started to repeat moves doesn't offer real chances to win for either side.
Morozevich - Wang Hao 1/2-1/2
Once again an Exchange Slav was played by Morozevich (an exciting game against Mamedyarov also started with this "boring" line). Russian player managed to get an interesting position after Wang Hao's inaccurate 12...Bg6, but failed to convert White's positional pressure into something concrete. 25.Nc3 might be the one of the possible improvements of White's play. White's chances to fight for a win seem problematic after all rooks left the board, as Black is just in time to exchange queenside pawns with 38...b6. Right after a time control a draw was agreed.
Kamsky – Leko 0-1
Nimzo-Indian with 4.e3 happened in this game and Peter went for a solid line 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nbd7 (7...Nc6 is more ambitious but much more risky as well). Kamsky appeared to be very well prepared, as he played his next few moves quite quickly. Peter was always trying to avoid the possible forced lines which might have been prepared by Kamsky and it seems Black had solved his opening problems after 13...Bxd4 14.exd5 Ng6. Kamsky didn't feel the critical moment, continued to play in ambitious way and probably overlooked Black's nice idea of meeting 18.b5 with 18...Bxf3 19. Bxf3 Ra8!. After that Black is simply getting a huge advantage in the endgame. After Black's strong 26...Nf4, transferring the knight to d5, position is close to be winning for Black. 39...Nxb4 transferred the game into a winning rook endgame. The last trick found by American player - 47. Rxb6 - was nicely refuted with 48...Rxg3 and as Leko pointed out during the press-conference “stalemate could be possible if White managed to get rid of both whites’ rooks at the same time”.