In the first match current World Champion, Viswanathan Anand, went up against Alexei Shirov. This time Shirov chose a secondary opening– the Mat Cucheon variation of the French Defence. Anand accepted the challenge and played a critical game, countering the opening and leaving black on the verge of a collapse. This forced the World Champion to spend much time and effort calculating all possibilities, after which he came up with some interesting alternatives. After commiting a series of errors, he finally found a counterplay that was effective enough against the black king to keep him constantly in check, which sealed the draw.
In the other match, Magnus Carlsen, playing as white, faced tournament leader Vladimir Kramnik. The match started off with an English Opening, with Magnus choosing a calm variation, the one known as the inverse Sicilian, where he was hoping to apply constant pressure on the queen’s side. Kramnik, a reputed specialist on this variation with both colours, completely froze Carlsen’s initiative on the queen’s side, leaving him with his hands free in the centre and on the king’s side. The match became very simple, but Kramnik knew how to keep the pressure on and transform the position into an endgame of two rooks and a bishop against two rooks and a knight which gave him an advantage. Magnus held on to the board and fought valiantly in a rook endgame to finally achieve a draw.