Francisco Vallejo Pons
Reggio Emilia would seem to be a two-player race for the title.
Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain and Vugar Gashimov, the co-leaders after Round 7, won their games in Wednesday’s penultimate round and now lead their nearest rival by a full point.
Mathematically, it is possible that Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia, who is in third, could tie Vallejo Pons and Gashimov by winning his last game. He faces Vallejo Pons on Thursday and has to win while hoping that Gashimov loses to Alexander Onischuk of the United States.
Vallejo and Gashimov were not the only ones to win their games on Wednesday, as the high rate of decisive games (21 of 40) continued at the tournament.
Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who had lost his previous two games, bounced back by beating Nigel Short of England. It was Short’s fourth loss of the event.
Alexander Morozevich of Russia also turned things around by winning on Wednesday, though his victory was against Michele Godena of Italy. Godena, by far the lowest-ranked player in the field, is in last place, having managed only two draws. He has been badly outclassed by his opponents throughout the tournament.
Vallejo Pons beat Onischuk on Wednesday with an elegant and brutal attack that caused Onischuk to throw in the towel after only 28 moves. The concluding move (28 Qe7) was particularly effective.
Gashimov beat David Navara of the Czech Republic, but he was clearly more lucky than Vallejo as Navara had a sizable advantage which he squandered.
The only game that ended in a draw was between Movsesian and Fabiano Caruana of Italy.
Caruana, Morozevich, Ivanchuk, Onischuk and Navara each have 4 points, 1.5 points behind the leaders. Short is alone in ninth place with 3.5 points.