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Good day for the French at the Alekhine Memorial

The last round of the Alekhine Memorial that was played in Paris left the French followers very satisfied with their representatives. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave took the lead after defeating Peter Svidler with the black pieces, while Laurent Fressinet took advantage of Kramnik’s careless play to get in the fight for first place.

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Two Gruenfeld players faced each other today in Paris. Peter Svidler, playing white, decided to avoid going into the main theoretical lines of this opening against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The French, who has shown very good chess in this tournament, created a dynamic situation on the board by castling queenside. A lot of simplifications took place around move 30 and the resulting endgame left Vachier-Lagrave with a bishop against knight in an open position.

Svidler, following his tradition, resigned way before it was completely clear that the French would win. The Russian does not keep playing to “show the win” to the spectators, as he does not like to play in a hopeless situation. This victory gave Vachier-Lagrave the sole lead in a very tough field. He will try to keep up this level in the second part of the event to be played in Saint Petersburg.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Laurent Fressinet also had a great day in Paris. He defeated ex-world champion Vladimir Kramnik in just 32 moves. The number 2 in the world played very aggressively, leaving his king in the center to look for a direct attack against the black king on the queenside. Fressinet was never in real danger and played logically against the unprotected white king. Kramnik played a lot of moves in a totally lost position, but the French did not flinch and got the point.

This might be seen as a compensation for Fressinet’s missed chance against Michael Adams in the fourth round. Despite being the lowest rated player of the event, he is creating a lot of problems for his prestigious opponents. He now shares the second place with Adams, Gelfand and Aronian.

Laurent Fressinet

The first decisive result of the day was a win by World Champion Viswanathan Anand. The Indian defeated Ding Liren  also in 32 moves. The Chinese chose the Caro-Kann Defense, an opening that Anand himself plays very often. Anand put the usual pressure on the kingside and Ding Liren went astray by playing 24…g6 instead of e5. The World Champion went on to take advantage of black’s weaknesses on the kingside and got his first win of the event.

Anand is now on an even score, a whole point behind Vachier-Lagrave. This was Ding Liren’s second loss after his great victory against Aronian in the first round.

Viswanathan Anand

Boris Gelfand played white against his friend Levon Aronian. The fact that they get along well did not prevent the Israeli from defeating Levon in the Candidates Tournament, when the Armenian was well in the fight for first place. Today, they looked for chances in an interesting position of the Slav, but neither one of them was able to get an edge. The draw was signed on move 41.

It also took 41 moves for Michael Adams and Nikita Vitiugov to split the point. They battled in the French variation of the Sicilian Defense.

The games will resume on Sunday April 28th at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Levon Aronian

Standings after 5 rounds:

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

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