The third round of the KZCC 2017 again saw a lot of fascinating fighting clashes - and the first defeat of the former leader and two times winner of the tournament, Hikaru Nakamura. The American was beaten by the Russian Peter Svidler, who after a quiet manoeuvring battle in the English Opening, found a very beautiful combination beginning with 23...Nf5! that eventually forced a favourable ending for black with both players having a rook and a queen, but Nakamura's king was in some danger and his pawns were easy targets for the opponent's heavy pieces. Maybe the game still could have been held, but Svidler played very energetically and led the game in a rook ending with two passed pawns on the queenside that proved to be an easy win for black.

The second decisive result was scored by Ian Nepomniachtchi - Viswanathan Anand and again this game showed the very creative and unusual style of the young Russian Grandmaster. When the opening phase was over, "Nepo" seemed to have no advantage at all, as his bishop pair seemed ineffective and his opponent's position very stable or even better. But then, out of the blue, Nepomniachtchi sacrificed a pawn for seemingly no play at all, but when the smoke cleared. his idea became obvious - he had created a safe place for his own king, while Anand's was in permanent danger and the Indian's pawns were easy targets for white's heavy pieces. Finally Anand committed the decisive mistake by playing the tempting 36...c3 that allowed Nepomniachtchi to deliver a beautiful mating attack.

Gelfand - Kramnik saw an interesting opening battle that appearantly had been prepared very well by Kramnik - after some 15 moves, he had accumulated almost 50 minutes on his clock, although the game had already entered an ending with both players having a rook and two minor pieces. Gelfand's army was more active, but Kramnik had serious counterplay with his queenside majority. However, with the pressure increasing, black had to give up his queenside pawns to enter a somewhat inferior rook ending, but with some fine technique, Kramnik managed to hold the draw.

Pelletier - Oparin was the clash of the "underdogs" and turned out to be a fighting game, as both players tried to play for a win in a Catalan that later transposed to some kind of Dutch defense. At some point, Oparin appeared to create a dangerous attack by doubling his heavy pieces along the open g-file, but Pelletier kept his cool and exchanged all rooks and queens to enter a knight vs bishop ending that seemed to be favourable for him due to his potential passed pawn on the a-file. But Oparin kept playing actively and a few moves it became obvious that neither player could win.

Today's results:

Round 3 - 14 April

White BlackRes.
Ian Nepomniachtchi-Viswanathan Anand2:0
Boris Gelfand-Vladimir Kramnik1:1
Hikaru Nakamura-Peter Svidler0:2
Yannick Pelletier-Grigoriy Oparin1:1

Classical after Round 3

1.Hikaru Nakamura (USA)279310.029.50
2.Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)275110.028.00
3.Viswanathan Anand (IND)27869.024.00
4.Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)28118.028.50
5.Peter Svidler (RUS)27478.026.00
6.Boris Gelfand (ISR)27245.012.50
7.Yannick Pelletier (SUI)25413.09.50
8.Grigoryi Oparin (RUS)26042.08.00