If all drawn chess games were like this, then no-one would be bothered by them anymore. The third round of the Zurich Chess Challenge had, despite without a decisive game, all that chess can make such a dramatic game - sacrifices, time trouble, amazing moves and miraculous saves. Now the stage is set for the clash of the leaders, Anand and Nakamura, in round 4.

Nakamura - Kramnik began as another Berlin Wall, but Nakamura avoided the well-trodden paths and played 4.d3 instead. The game went on smoothly with no side having an obvious advantage, but then Nakamura made a strange move in a double rook and knight ending by moving his knight to the rim and thus allowing his opponents rook to penetrate on the second rank, which immediately made the American's position a critical one. Kramnik won a pawn, but Nakamura managed to exchange rooks and, in a position where many people thought he was lost, found a fantastic idea to save the game. He sacrificed an exchange to reach an ending with rook and two pawns versus his knight and three pawns, that turned out to be impossible to win for the Russian. Nakamura defended splendidly and in the end the last black pawn fell and the draw was signed.

Anand - Shirov was maybe the most dramatic game of the third round. Shirov chose a kind of a delayed Steinitz setup versus Anand's Spanish opening and fianchettoed his black squared bishop to g7, which is considered to be solid, but not particularly active.However, the Latvian Wizard showed once again why he's associated with the slogan "Fire on Board": By attacking on the kingside with an early f7-f5, he allowed his opponent to win an exchange, but in return all of Shirov's pieces came to life and he developed a dangerous initiative that Anand could hardly withstand. At some point, Anand's position was already dubious, but the Indian defended with amazing stubbornness and, by returning the exchange, managed to get rid of Shirov's dangerous passed pawn on the d-file. In the end it was Shirov who had to find the last finesse in a rook ending to secure the draw, but despite being in severe time trouble, this proved to be no real challenge for him and the players agreed to a draw.

Aronian - Giri showed a theoretical duel in the Moscow variation on the Semi-Slav, where Aronian played an interesting plan by moving his knight to e5 in a very early stage of the game. Giri exchanged queens with check and seemingly had easy equality afterwards, but as it turned out it wasn't that simple. Aronian developed some pressure in the center, but Giri, who is known to be one of the best defenders in the world, steered the game into an endgame with both sides having a rook and opposite-colored bishops, where black's weak d-pawn played no decisive role anymore. Aronian tested Giri's defending skills for a couple of moves, but then offered a rook exchange himself to make the draw obvious.

After three rounds, Anand is still in the lead, with Nakamura being only one point behind.

Round 3 - Sunday, February 14th, 3pm

White BlackRes.
Hikaru Nakamura-Vladimir Kramnik1:1
Viswanathan Anand-Alexei Shirov1:1
Levon Aronian-Anish Giri1:1

Round four will start at 6pm with the clash of the leaders, Nakamura vs Anand!

Round 4 - Sunday, February 14th, 6pm

White BlackRes.
Vladimir Kramnik-Anish Giri2:0
Alexei Shirov-Levon Aronian0:2
Hikaru Nakamura-Viswanathan Anand1:1



Download all games from round 3 (PGN)