1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Gelfand usually avoids Nimzo-Indian defence and prefers to battle against QID or Bogo-Indian.
3... d5 4.g3 After 4. Nc3, Ponomariov might play Ragozin defence with 4...Bb4
4... Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 The point of this apparent time waste for Bb4-Be7 is to force white Bishop to d2 (the best square for the Bishop is b2) or Nbd2 (as the Knight would look better on c3 later on)
6.Bg2 c6 7.Bf4 This move order is not very common, usually white play 7. Qc2 first. Now black can try 7...dxc4 8. Ne5 Nd5 with idea Nxf4 and c5.
7... Nbd7 But Ponomariov is holding on to his preparation...
8.Qc2 O-O 9.O-O b6 10.Rd1 Trading on d5 doesn't give much, 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Nc3 Bb7 and black is extremely solid. In some lines, his light-squared Bishop will be worth more than its white counterpart.
10... Bb7 11.Nc3 Nh5 Atr this point, black had a choice between (11... dxc4 12.Nd2 Nd5 13.Nxc4 Nxf4 14.gxf4 Qc7 15.e3 Rac8) or (11... Rc8 12.b3 c5) Ponomariov is angling for a stonewall-like structure.
12.Bc1 f5 13.b3 Rc8 14.Bb2 The Bishop is finally reaching the b2-square, but black is already well developed and e2-e4 is prevented.
14... Bd6 Taking better control of the e5 and f4 squares. A later Ba3 (after Qe7) might also come into consideration.
15.e3 Now that e4 is rulled out, it is wise to support the central pawn and prevent possible f5-f4 from black. Also, the e2-square becomes available for pieces' transfer.
15... Qe7 16.Ne2 Nhf6 17.Nf4 Ne4 18.Qe2 18...Ba3 is not wise, because after the exchange, white gets a strong grip on the e5-square. Maybe 18...g5!?, although black should always be careful with advances like that, after 19. Nd3 g4 20. Nfe5, the f4-square is again available for white pieces.
18... Ndf6 19.Ne5 Taking the opportunity to occupy e5 and prevent Ng4.
19... Rfd8 Ponomariov is grouping the pieces in the center with idea to push c6-c5.
And suddenly a draw was agreed! White didn't get much out of the opening and Ponomariov managed to equalise. In the World Cup final neither player is ready to take too much risk. Though we hope for more action in the two remaining games.
Thank you everyone for joining us, see you again tomorrow at 11:00 CET. 1/2-1/2