2-0 against Ponomariov, what a great day! As white in the rapid game, everything went quite smoothly. From a relatively quiet opening I eventually got a somewhat better position with my bishop pair. My opponent then decided to open up the kingside, which turned out to be a double-edged sword, to say the least. Soon all my pieces were concentrated on the kingside, and when I started my counterattack, the game was essentially over already. A rook down, he resigned on move 41.
The rapid game was a completely different story. After he surprised me in the opening, I got some problems, and I had to sacrifice a pawn. I eventually got reasonable compensation, even after the queens had been swapped off. After the knights were swapped, and just one rook and four pawn were remaining on each side, everything was headed for a draw. However, now, for the first time in the game I had a very slight advantage, so I decided to play on for a few moves at least. A few moves later I managed to saddle him with a weak pawn, and it became clear the though the position was still a clear draw, white would definitely have to suffer for a while. Unable to cope with the new circumstances, my opponent did not defend in the best way, and eventually lost a pawn. He could still have made a draw with precise play, but down to a few seconds on the clock he went wrong, and let his king be cut off from his last remaining pawn. Then, I was absolutely sure I would win, as I could just follow a game of mine from 2006, where I had won the exact same endgame. I soon won his last pawn, and with it, the game. Ivanchuk and Kramnik made two draws, with Ivanchuk pushing in first game (with serious winnings chances along the way) and Kramnik pushing in the second. This means that I am now the sole leader, with 13.5/20. Ivanchuk has 13/20, while Kramnik in third has 12/20. Tomorrow I am facing Alexander Grischuk. The Russian champion has, despite an unecessary loss today, done very well in the blindfold section, and is leading with 7/10. As I am clear second with 6.5/10, tomorrow will decide the winner in that section. For the record, his rapid play his been far less impressive, and with 4.5/10 he is two points behind in the combined, a lead I do not intend to give away too easily :)

Magnus Carlsen, Nice, March 24th 2010