A third successive draw for one of the co-leaders, Hikaru Nakamura, and a loss for the other, David Howell, contributed to a four-way traffic jam on 6½/8 after the eighth round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters at the Caleta Hotel on Tuesday. With two rounds remaining the leaders are Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Richard Rapport (Hungary), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Daniil Dubov (Russia). The leader in the race for the top women's prize is now Nino Batsiashvili (Georgia) with 5½, having leapfrogged over Ju Wenjun (China) and Kateryna Lagno (Russia) who both lost. Wang Hao-Nakamura produced another muted performance from the four-times titleholder.
Wang Hao had enjoyed a half-point bye in the seventh round and might have been expected to push harder. The Berlin defence from Nakamura may have been something of a surprise: unless I missed something on my database search he's only played into this line in a handful of blitz and rapid games. The game left book on move 11 and then the players steered for a repetition, ending on move 19. Perhaps Nakamura is keeping something in reserve for the big push in the final two rounds, plus a possible tie-break.