Reports | April 30, 2013 18:51

Alekhine Memorial: Gelfand in the lead, one round to go

Alekhine Memorial: Gelfand in the lead, one round to go

Boris Gelfand is the sole leader at the Alekhine Memorial in St Petersburg after eight rounds. On Tuesday the Israeli grandmaster saved a difficult endgame against Vladimir Kramnik, while co-leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave lost with the white pieces to Nikita Vitiugov. The final round starts one hour earlier, at 11:00 CET.

The penultimate round was played in rainy St Petersburg, a city where one of the true legends of Russian (Soviet) chess lives: Mark Taimanov. He is clearly enjoying the tournament and watches the games from the press room. The 87-year-old grandmaster is one of the two participants of the 1953 Candidates' Tournament still alive, together with the world's oldest grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, who is 91.

Mark Taimanov watching a TV with the live games

Taimanov, and all other chess players and fans all over the world, enjoyed another fascinating and long round of the Alekhine Memorial. Tournament leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave lost his first game of the tournament, and hours later the other leader, Boris Gelfand, escaped with a draw. The 44-year-old World Championship Candidate is now half a point ahead of Levon Aronian, Michael Adams, Viswanathan Anand and Maximw Vachier-Lagrave.

Photographers & camera men in action

The round started with a draw between Viswanathan Anand and Peter Svidler in a Ruy Lopez.

PGN string

Laurent Fressinet and Levon Aronian also split the point. They played a Chebanenko Slav which transposed into a proper Meran, and quite a sharp, queenless middlegame appeared on the board. With a positional exchange sacrifice, Black got a slight advantage but then Aronian chose the wrong plan and Fressinet could equalize.

PGN string

Ding Liren played the Sämisch variation against Michael Adams' Nimzo Indian. The Chinese got the better chances when his opponent played a few "careless" moves but in the timetrouble phase Adams could use some tactics to reach a drawn position.

PGN string

Then, the round saw the first decisive game. Nikita Vitiugov described his fight with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave as "quite an important game for both players. Maxime was in the lead and I wanted to play a decent game." And he did. The Russian was well prepared for the 4.h4 in the Caro-Kann Advance and slowly outplayed his opponent, who just wasn't in his best shape today. And so Vitiugov won his first game, and Vachier-Lagrave lost his first. When the game finished, the spectators applauded their local hero.

PGN string

The game between Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand lasted more than six and a half hours, and in the end Gelfand saved the draw and thus kept his lead in the tournament. It was decided to skip the press conference so we don't have too many notes to the game.

PGN string

Round 8 standings


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


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


chesshire cat's picture

Gelfand is especially powerful in defense lately!

kamalakanta's picture

Lately? That guy has been a top defensive player for many years! He is one of the toughest masters to beat out there.

AndroidMarsMan's picture

Mr. Gelfand is looking at what could be his highest level tournament victory ever (discounting the Candidates 2011) and just shy of his highest rating ever. Great job by the old nut.

redivivo's picture

Yes, after 25 years in top chess he is facing his first tournament win ahead of Kramnik and Anand, impressive.

Anonymous's picture

Thus Spoke redivivo. Get a life.

S3's picture

So you still hate Gelfand for winning the candidates. No news there

Anonymous's picture

At least 2nd after interzonal 1993.

redivivo's picture

OK, the first time in 20 years then.

redivivo's picture

I'd say winning a round robin like this one would be more impressive though. Biel 1993 was a huge Swiss, with van der Sterren (2525) in second place, ahead of Kramnik, Anand, Ivanchuk etc without playing any of them, he did play an untitled opponent though and the field had 15-20 IM's, FM's and untitled players. The Alekhine Memorial, in comparison, is allround much stronger.

Anonymous's picture

...and your point is?
The thing I find funny is that winning a tournament ahead of Anand and Kramnik is massively impressive for anybody, regardless of how long it takes; your sarcasm just makes you look stupid.

redivivo's picture

What sarcasm? This should count as one of Gelfand's biggest tournament triumphs if he wins, I'd certainly rank it ahead of Biel 1993 achievement wise.

middlewave's picture

Gelfand actually did play Anand in Biel 1993 - and won.

redivivo's picture

That he did, but this tournament is much stronger and he didn't play lots of 2500's like in Biel. At least it would be the first time he wins a round robin ahead of Anand and Kramnik (with World #2 Aronian thrown in as well) and the first time he wins ahead of a reigning World Champion, and that in his 45th year.

jussu's picture

Does the final round really start one round earlier? :P

Bas1191's picture


Pommes Frites's picture

Some men just get better with age. Old people power!

RG13's picture

Lasker had some world-class tournament performances as an old man. Also Karpov beat Kasparov in a short exhibition match and made him cry.

wakominov's picture

I remembered it was Nadal vs Federer at auzzie open final when federer started crying after he lose...

Oops wrong sport...

Creamy Goodness's picture

Max!? What happened?! Can't some troll bring back the Russian conspiracy? It would make me feel better. Where's that Eadon fanboy when you need him?

redivivo's picture

64. Rh8 followed by Rh5 would have won piece and game for Kramnik.

redivivo's picture

If Aronian wins with white against MVL and all other games are drawn he will take first place since the first tiebreaks are number of black wins and number of wins.

redivivo's picture

Or rather, number of black games is the first tiebreak and number of wins is the second.

bronkenstein's picture

´The Unworthy´ has excellent chances of winning another big one. It will certainly be well deserved - excellent defense against Vlad and the most stable form so far. Hopefully we will see repetition in the next Grand Prix.

I´m also happy for Nikita, ATM this looks like decent tournament for him.

Bas1191's picture

Yes, looks like he's got Vachier-Lagrave's number: it's his second win over MVL in three weeks

redivivo's picture

If Adams beats Kramnik old pals Kramnik and Topalov will share third on the live rating list with 2793.3

john's picture

Missing Thor already.

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