Viswanathan Anand defeated Frenchman Laurent Fressinet,who was just one spot off the leader and compatriot Maxime Vachier-Lagrave,to move into joint-third at the end of the seventh round of the Alekhine Memorial chess tournament in Russia on Monday.
The first leg of the tournament,based out of Paris,saw Anand get off to a poor start,losing his first round game against Englishman Michael Adams and eventually straggle to sixth palce at the end of five rounds with 2.5 points. The loss to Adams,who is ranked 20th in the world and around 15 spots below the Indian,was Anand’s second to the Englishman in four months. However,the signs of a turnaround were visible at the end of the first leg,as Anand ended the Paris stay with win over Chinese Liren Ding in the fifth round.
In the sixth round game,the first based out of St. Petersburg,Anand held Vladimir Kramnik with black,but in the next game,his star was shining brighter. The seventh round saw Anand register his second win in three games as he continued his climb up the ladder.
In the Scotch opening,the sides castled on the opposite sides,ensuring an open and aggressive game. Fressinet led the attack on the queen side,but Anand always had counterplay against the Frenchman’s weakened kingside. To be sure,it was an up and down game,and a mistake by either side could have proven decisive. Anand made an ambiguous move on the 25th,allowing black to get a decisive opening,but low on time and having played a few indecisive moves in a dynamic position the advantage fell to Anand again. In the queen,rook and pawns ending,the material was equally distributed between both sides but Anand had two pawns on the sixth rank. That advantage,along with that of an active king,during an end game which he played with precision gave Anand an unstoppable advantage as Fressinet,ranked 39th in the world,faltered.
Games on all other boards but one were drawn,to add to Anand’s advantage. However,the Indian’s challenger from the last world title bout,Boris Gelfand,beat Ding to move into the lead with Adams. Anand,despite his loss in the first round,is just half a point off the lead with two rounds to go.
Anand has a mixed bag of games left,having to play current leader Gelfand and last placed Peter Svidler in his two remaining games. He will need at least one win to stake his claim at the top from the games left.
The results,Round seven: Michael Adams (3.5) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave; Viswanathan Anand (3) bt Laurent Fressinet (3.5); Boris Gelfand (3.5) bt Liren Ding (2.5); Peter Svidler (1.5) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (3); Nikita Vitiugov (2.5) drew with Levon Aronian (3).