(1) Svidler,P (2765) - Aronian,L (2752) [C88]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (12), 08.03.2006

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 b4
[8...Bb7 Leko-Ivanchuk, Morelia 4 2006]

9.d3 d6 10.a5
[A logical move. Once the e5-pawn has been defended, Black threatens to place his queen's knight on a5, putting certain pressure against the white queen side. For instance, 10.Nbd2 Na5 11.Ba2 Be6 12.Bxe6 fxe6 13.c3 bxc3 14.bxc3 Rb8 with good play for Black, Adams-Leko, Linares 2005]

10...Be6 11.Nbd2 Qc8 12.Nc4 h6

[Svidler had reached this position before, but with opposite colours. 13.c3 Rb8 (13...bxc3 14.bxc3 Rb8 has been recommended, although this gives White the additional possibility 15.Ba3 ) 14.d4 Bg4 15.Ba4 Qb7 16.d5 Na7 17.Ne3 with advantage of space for White, Leko-Svidler, San Luis 2005. We can suppose that Svidler deviated from this variation because he had found an improvement for Black. Or maybe he was just tird after the complicated game from yesterday and did not feel like opening the position at such an early stage?!]

13...Rb8 14.Be3 Rd8 15.Qe2 Bf8 16.Nfd2 Qb7
[An interesting novelty. In the ame Adams-Anand, San Luis 2005 Black initiated the generally desirable transfer of the queen's knight to g6 with 16...Ne7!? but after 17.d4! White obtained some pressure in the centre. Aronian decided to keep his knight on c6 untill the danger of d3-d4 dissapears.]

17.Qf3 Kh7 18.Nf1 Ne7
Now that the e4-pawn is insufficiently defended, Black finally transfers the knight to the king side.

19.Ng3 Ng6 20.Nh5

With all the pieces on board, there is a lot of play left, of course, but the opponents seem to have decided to preserve their forces for the decisive rounds. 1/2-1/2