After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.

Levon Aronian continues his successful season. He was close to winning against Richard Rapport with Black today. Players entered a rather early endgame (which seemed safe for White), but the game continued. Aronian was pressing his opponent and on the 6th hour of play Rapport started to make mistakes. Hungarian Grandmaster, however, pulled himself together and brought the position to a draw.  

Other games on the top boards were quite peaceful. Vachier-Lagrave tried an interesting opening idea with a pawn sacrifice on c2, but Evgeny Tomashevsky wasn’t tricked into it. He was clearly aware of this line, although some of the engines doubted the move. “I think you need a more powerful computer to understand what’s going on”, explained the Russian Grandmaster after the game. Frenchman looked disappointed with the result, as he believed he had a good position, time advantage after the opening and could have put more pressure on his opponent. 

This game ended in a draw, as well as Svidler-Nakamura, Jakovenko-Harikrishna, Ding Liren-Giri and Inarkiev-Vallejo.

The players of the lower boards were more uncompromising, which resulted in three decisive games. 

According to Teimour Radjabov, he got a comfortable position with White,  but was sure that Black played precisely where there was not much hope. He thought Black unnecessary spoiled the structure after bc and let his knight on h5 out of play. After that Teimour realised he had many ways to press his opponent but was not sure he chose the best one. Nevertheless, the Azerbaijani Grandmaster managed to defeat Li Chao after yesterday “hara-kiri”. 

Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer. It seems that the Norwegian player got confused in the opening and went for a line where White got an easy play. However, Hammer managed to complicate the position and Pavel Eljanov was no better after the principal continuation 18…Bf5 instead of 18…Re8. He thought Black had enough compensation for a pawn. After the move in the game the Norwegian Grandmaster gave up another pawn to keep e-file, but it didn’t help to create real threats  against White’s king.

Boris Gelfand improved his tournament situation winning with Black against Alexander Riazantsev.

The current Russian champion surprised his opponent with Catalan and players got a very complex position on the board. Once Boris Gelfand occupied the c-file with his rooks, he was sure Black had better position and an easier play. After inaccurate 22.Ne5, the Israeli Grandmaster was increasing his advantage and converted it into a full point after 40 moves of play. 

Photos from day seven by Valeriy Belobeev are here.