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Aronian joins the leaders at the Alekhine Memorial

The fourth round of the Alekhine Memorial was played today. Levon Aronian joined the leaders on 2,5/4 after defeating Peter Svidler. Laurent Fressinet missed a big chance to beat Michael Adams. The leading pack is completed by the Englishman, Boris Gelfand and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

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World’s number 3 Levon Aronian, played his third decisive game of the event. After losing on the first round, he bounced back with a win against Vladimir Kramnik and, today, he joined the leaders thanks to a victory against another Russian player, Peter Svidler. He needed 36 moves to force the player from St. Petersburg to resign.

The game saw Svidler using, once again, his Gruenfeld. The Russian played fearlessly, expanding on the kingside and allowing white to get a strong d-pawn. Aronian played precisely and quickly – when the game finished, he had a 45 minutes lead on the clock. In the final position, the Armenian is only a pawn up, but Svidler is in a kind of positional zugzwang, as his position is about to collapse regardless of what move he chooses.

Levon Aronian

Laurent Fressinet almost was responsible for Michael Adams‘ second loss in a row. The French GM, who arrived as the lowest-rated player, has shown very good play so far. He has drawn all his games and lost a chance to put down one of the leaders in today’s round.

Adams responded actively to Fressinet’s Reti. This resulted in a position where the Englishman has a slight space advantage, but also needs to play with a pair of knights against a pair of bishops. When white started to advance his pawns and open the position, it was clear that he had an important edge. The computer shows that Fressinet missed big chances to win the game, giving the Frenchman an advantage of over 4 points in different moments of the game. Adams defended stubbornly and saved the half point to stay as one of the leaders.

Laurent Fressinet

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, just like his compatriot Fressinet, has shown very steady play in his home soil. He remains in the lead after signing a draw against current World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

The Indian used his pet Slav defense and Vachier-Lagrave was up to the task. The queens were exchanged on move 16, and Maxime was left with slightly better developed pieces. He used this tiny edge to activate his rooks and eventually win a pawn. However, this was only enough to reach a rook endgame with 3 v 2 pawns on the kingside. The players signed the score-sheets when they got to this position, as it is an easy theoretical draw.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

The challenger for the World Championship Boris Gelfand also managed to stay on top of the standings after drawing with black against Nikita Vitiugov. The Russian used the Reti, going for a slow positional battle. He used his advanced d-pawn to stir some problems in black’s position, and that is exactly what happened. However, he was not able to find the precise continuations offered by the computers to increase the advantage. Gelfand forced a repetition of moves before the first time control.

Vladimir Kramnik had no problems to get a draw against Ding Liren. The Russian equalized rather easily in the opening, probably following some prepared lines he had ready for the Candidates. The draw was signed on move 34.  Both players remain on an even score, half a point behind the leaders.

Standings after 4 rounds:

1 Gelfand, Boris ISR 2739
2 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2722
3 Aronian, Levon ARM 2809
4 Adams, Michael ENG 2727
5 Fressinet, Laurent FRA 2706 2
6 Ding, Liren CHN 2707 2
7 Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2801 2
8 Anand, Viswanathan IND 2783
9 Vitiugov, Nikita RUS 2712
10 Svidler, Peter RUS 2747 1

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