The 2nd round of the Zurich Chess Challenge again saw some fantastic fighting games on a very high level. Indian Viswanathan Anand scored his second victory in a row and thus made perfectly clear that, after his loss to Nakamura in the Armageddon decider last year, he's all ready to go for the tournament victory again.

Giri - Anand started slowly though. In a rather quiet Italian Game, both sides followed well-known paths and continued with slow manoeuvers when the game entered the stage of the middle-game, but then Anand tried to fight for the initiative by advancing on the queenside. The game still stayed level, but then the young Dutch followed a false plan: In order to get rid of the pressure against his pawn on f2, he moved it forward, but this made things only worse, as Anand was now able to open the file with the lever e6-e5. In a difficult position, Giri allowed his opponents heavy pieces to enter his position and the game ended with an irresistible mating attack.

Kramnik - Aronian left no room for excitement after the opening - Kramnik chose a quiet Réti setup and continued to play a bit passively, allowing his opponent to free his position and equalize. But all of a sudden, the Russian gave up an exhange for highly interesting play - he obtained an advanced passed-pawn on e6 and a knight for a rook. It seemed that Aronian was again on the track of losing, but he defended stubbornly, returned the exchange and reached an endgame with a pawn down, but opposite-colored bishops and a position that ran out of life, so a draw was agreed.

Shirov - Nakamura was bound to become a real fighting game, and that's what it turned out to be! Nakamura chose the French defense and Shirov reacted by pushing his pawn to e5 to enter the so called Nimzovich Variation. By moving his knight to h6, the American allowed his opponent to compromise his pawn structure, but got plenty of play along the open g-file, where a black rook together with both doubled h-pawns soon attacked the white's king's castle. Shirov defended very well, but at some point overstretched the position. Probably seeking active counterplay, he sacrificed the exchange, but Nakamura kept his cool and just pushed his free h-pawn that was impossible to stop without losing more material.

After two rounds, it appears to be clear that the tournament heads towards being a race between Anand and Nakamura. Tomorrow, the two leaders will face each other in the 4th round; a game that will probably decide the outcome of the whole competition. Stay with us!

Round 2 - Saturday, February 13th, 6pm

White BlackRes.
Vladimir Kramnik-Levon Aronian1:1
Anish Giri-Viswanathan Anand0:2
Alexei Shirov-Hikaru Nakamura0:2


Round three will start tomorrow at 3pm with the following encounters:

Round 3 - Sunday, February 14th, 3pm

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

Games:

Download all games from round 2 (PGN)