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Alekhine Memorial 2013 (8)

Gelfand leads alone going into Alekhine Memorial final round

Boris Gelfand in the box seat after holding out and drawing against Kramnik. Photo ©

Boris Gelfand in the box seat after holding out and drawing against Kramnik. Photo © |

Boris Gelfand leads the Alekhine Memorial with 5/8 half a point clear of Michael Adams, Levon Aronian, Viswanathan Anand and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. This was after he managed to draw a long game with Vladimir Kramnik whilst fellow leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave suffered defeated to Nikita Vitiugov.

Vladimir Kramnik allowed Boris Gelfand to escape with a draw after finally extracting what should have been a winning advantage following a long grind. Kramnik won an exchange for a pawn out of the opening condemning Gelfand to a long defence. Gelfand held out for a long time but 63...Rxa5? 64.Rh8! would have won. It seemed rather amazing that Kramnik missed this as it almost seemed that his play was designed to try and get this.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was surprised with 10...Qa5!? by Nikita Vitiugov in a Caro-Kann. Vachier-Lagrave's play seemed a little tentative in trying to meet this new idea but it was only after 31.Bd1? (31.Qe2!) that he got in deep trouble. After first time control Vachier-Lagrave could probably have defended better but probably not saved the game just the same. However soon his position collapsed after further inaccuracies.

Peter Svidler played 9...Be6 10.Nd5 Nd4!? in what might be an important novelty in the Ruy Lopez departing from his win against Magnus Carlsen in the final round of the Candidates. Svidler's new move allowed him to quickly simplify to a draw.

Liren Ding looked like he might get a little something against Michael Adams in a Saemisch Nimzo-Indian but nothing really tangible emerged and Adams simplified to a draw with 40...Rxf3!

Laurent Fressinet drew with Levon Aronian in a highly theoretical Meran System Semi-Slav in which pieces were regularly exchanged until a draw was achieved.

Round 8 Standings: Gelfand 5.5/8, Adams, Aronian, Anand, Vachier-Lagrave 4.5pts, Vitiugov, Fressinet 4pts, Kramnik 3.5pts, Ding 3pts Svidler 2.5pts.

Round 9 Wed 1st May 10am BST (1 hour earlier): Svidler - Fressinet, Gelfand-Anand, Adams-Kramnik, Vitiugov-Ding Liren, Aronian-Vachier.

Kramnik,Vladimir (2801) - Gelfand,Boris (2739) [A33]
Alekhine Mem Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS (8), 30.04.2013

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Ndb5 Ne5 8.Bg2 a6 9.Na4

[9.Na3 1/2-1/2 Flumbort,A (2492)-Poetz,F (2411)/St. Veit/Glan AUT 2013/The Week in Chess 963 (25)]

9...Qa5+ 10.Nbc3

[10.Bd2 1/2-1/2 Kleeschaetzky,R (2220)-Holloway,T (2160)/Germany 2008/CBM 129 Extra (49)]


White has sacrificed a pawn for the initiative.

11.b3 Nb6 12.Nxb6 Qxb6 13.0-0 Be7 14.Na4 Qd8 15.Be3 d5 16.Bb6 Qd6 17.Rc1 Bd7 18.Bc7 Qa3 19.Nb6 0-0 20.Nxa8 Rxa8

Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 20...Rxa8

Black has given up the exchange for a pawn. Gelfand seemed happy enough but effectively black is waiting to see how white will try and win this,

21.Rc2 Bc6 22.Qc1 Qxc1 23.Rfxc1 Ba3 24.Rb1 a5 25.Be5 Kf8 26.e3 Ke7

[26...Nd7 was a distinct alternative.]

27.Bd4 g6 28.Bc5+

White can't make progress without removing the bishop from a3 or exchaning it as here.

28...Bxc5 29.Rxc5 Nd7 30.Rc2 f5

Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 30...f5

Black must stake a claim to space on the kingside.

31.f3 Nf6 32.h4

An idea that had to be carefully considered as the g4 square is highly likely to become available to the black knight at some point.

32...Kd6 33.Kf2 e5 34.Rd1 e4 35.Rd4 exf3 36.Bxf3 Ke5 37.Ke1 h6 38.g4 g5 39.gxf5 Kxf5 40.a3 Ke5 41.hxg5 hxg5 42.Kf2 Rf8 43.Kg3 Re8 44.Rc3 Bd7 45.Bg2 g4

Trying to make his g-pawn a force.

46.Rcd3 Be6

Having remained very flexible black is now being forced to choose a defensive formation. The black bishop will not be able to return to c6, however b6 would also have loosened black's position.

47.b4 axb4 48.Rxb4 Re7 49.Rdb3 Bc8 50.Rc3 Bf5 51.a4 Nh5+ 52.Kf2 g3+ 53.Kg1 Nf6 54.a5 Be4 55.Rc8 Rh7 56.Rb6 Bxg2

[56...Rh2 also needed to be calculated. 57.Bxe4 Nxe4 58.Re8+ Kf5 59.Rf8+ Ke5 60.Rxb7 Ra2 61.Ra7 Ng5 62.Rg7 Ne4 63.Re7+ Kd6 64.Ra7 Ke5]

57.Kxg2 Ne4 58.Kg1 Nd6 59.Rd8 Ne4 60.Rb8 Nd6 61.Kg2

White wants to continue.

61...Rh2+ 62.Kxg3 Ra2 63.Kf3!?

[63.Rd8 Ne4+ 64.Kg4 Rg2+ 65.Kh5 Nf6+ 66.Kh4 Rg7 67.Rb8 Rh7+ 68.Kg3 Ne4+]


Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 63...Rxa5

[63...Ne4 had to be tried when black may hold.]


It's been a long game but Judit Polgar saw the win almost straight away in commentary.

[64.Rh8! Rc5 65.Rh5+ Nf5 66.Rg6 Rc3 67.Rgg5 Rxe3+ 68.Kf2 Rd3 69.Rxf5+]

64...Ne4 65.Re8+ Kf5 66.Rf8+ Ke5 67.Rh8 Kf5 68.Rxb7 Ng5+ 69.Kg3 Ne4+ 70.Kh4 Ra4 71.Rf8+ Ke5 72.Rb6 Ra3 73.Kg4 Rxe3

Now white isn't even better.


Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2722) - Vitiugov,Nikita (2712) [B12]
Alekhine Mem Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS (8), 30.04.2013

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5

Vitiugov prefers the solidity of this move.

5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 Ne7 7.Nge2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Be2 Qa5N

Nikita Vitiugov


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Position after 10...Qa5

Vitiugov's novelty prepared for the game.

[10...Bb4 1-0 Vachier Lagrave,M (2710)-Laznicka,V (2703)/San Sebastian ESP 2012/The Week in Chess 895 (60)]

11.Bd2 0-0-0 12.0-0 Be7 13.Nce4 Qc7 14.Ng5

Vitiugov didn't think Vachier-Lagrave's last few moves were the right way to play and this does indeed seem to be the case with black standing a bit better here due to better coordinated pieces.


[14...Qb6 is a computer like alternative.]

15.Bxg5 f6 16.exf6 gxf6 17.Bd2 Nf4

[17...f5 was an anti-positional alternative considered by Vitiugov which probably produces equal play.]

18.Re1 Nb6 19.Qb3 e5 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Ne4 Rxd4 22.Bf3 Bxe4 23.Bxe4 Kb8

Nikita Vitiugov


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Position after 23...Kb8

Taking checks off in key positions.

24.Bf3 Nc4

Heading for the key square e5 where the knight will dominate the board if white doesn't manage to find a way to oppose it.

[24...Nd7 25.Re7]

25.Qc3 Rhd8 26.Rad1 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Ne5 28.Rxd8+ Qxd8 29.Bxh5 Qh8 30.Qd2!

In a critical position Vachier-Lagrave finds the right move.


[30...Qxh5? 31.Qd8# Is the immediate justification of Qd2.]


Nikita Vitiugov


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Position after 31.Bd1

White simply can't afford to give up the h-pawn so easily.

[31.Qe2 Kc7 32.g3; 31.Qd1]

31...Qxh4 32.Qd6 Qg5 33.Qe6+ Kc7 34.Qe7+ Nd7 35.Qh7 Kd6

Probably the clearest in time trouble. Black is probably winning here.

36.b4 Qe5


37.Qd3+ Qd5 38.Qe2 Ne5 39.a4 a6 40.Qe1 Qd3 41.Be2 Qc2 42.Bf1

[42.a5 isn't terribly appetising either but probably better in the short term at least.]

42...f3 43.Qa1

[43.Qe3 fxg2 44.Qd4+ Kc7 45.Bxg2 Qxa4 46.f4 Nd7 probably doesn't help but is again better than the game.]

43...Qd2 44.b5?!

I don't like this.

[44.Qa3!? seems more flexible.]

44...c5 45.Qa3 fxg2 46.Bxg2?!

Nikita Vitiugov


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Position after 46.Bxg2

[46.Kxg2 a5 is also winning but the game now ends suddenly.; 46.Kxg2 won't save the game in the long run.]


And suddenly white isn't able to defend his kingside properly.


Vitiugov looked shocked at this move because black is now mating.

[47.bxa6 Qxf2+ 48.Kh1 Qh4+]

47...Qxf2+ 48.Kh1 Qg3!!

Nikita Vitiugov


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Position after 48...Qg3

[48...Qg3 The only move that wins immediately. 49.Bg2 The only way to stop mate next move. 49...Nf2+ 50.Kg1 Nh3+ 51.Kh1 Qxa3; 48...Qf1+ and there is still work to do.]


Alekhine Memorial Paris/St Petersburg (FRA/RUS), 21 iv-1 v 2013 cat. XX (2745)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1. Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2739 * 1 ½ . ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5 2836
2. Adams, Michael g ENG 2727 0 * ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ . ½ 1 2783
3. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2809 ½ ½ * ½ . ½ ½ 1 0 1 2783
4. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2783 . 0 ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 2784
5. Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime g FRA 2722 ½ ½ . ½ * 0 ½ ½ 1 1 2783
6. Vitiugov, Nikita g RUS 2712 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 * ½ 0 . ½ 4 2754
7. Fressinet, Laurent g FRA 2706 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * 1 ½ . 4 2750
8. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2801 ½ . 0 ½ ½ 1 0 * ½ ½ 2697
9. Ding, Liren g CHN 2707 0 ½ 1 0 0 . ½ ½ * ½ 3 2667
10. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2747 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ . ½ ½ * 2609
Round 8 (April 30, 2013)
Anand, Viswanathan - Svidler, Peter ½-½ 35 C84 Ruy Lopez Centre Attack
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime - Vitiugov, Nikita 0-1 48 B12 Caro Kann Advanced
Fressinet, Laurent - Aronian, Levon ½-½ 41 D45 Anti-Meran Variations
Kramnik, Vladimir - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 73 A33 English Symmetrical
Ding, Liren - Adams, Michael ½-½ 45 E25 Nimzo Indian Saemisch

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