THE Alekhine Memorial had a dramatic ending that was certainly befitting its grandiose surroundings of the Russian State Museum in St Petersburg, as the world No 2, Levon Aronian, of Armenia, came from behind to snatch victory on tiebreak ahead of overnight leader Boris Gelfand, of Israel, both scoring 5.5/9.
The second leg in St Petersburg proved a tough ask for Maxime Vachier-Lagarde to continue his superb run from the Paris leg, where, on home soil, he sensationally took the lead to put him on course for the best performance from a native-born Frenchman since the early part of the 18th century.
But Vachier-Lagrave found the going much tougher in St Petersburg, and his final- round loss to Aronian – that ultimately gave the Armenian tiebreak victory with most wins – saw him miss out on a share of 3rd-4th spot with world champion Viswanathan Anand.
But in the critical position, Vachier-Lagrave could be kicking himself for missing the saving resource of 34 ..Re4! 35 d7 Rxe7 36 d8Q Rxa7 37 Qd5 Bd4+ and an excellent chance of salvaging a draw with a fortress set-up.
Final standings: 1-2. Aronian, Gelfand, 5.5/9; 3. Anand, 5; 4-8. Adams, Vitugov, Fressinet, Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave, 4.5; 9. Ding, 3.5; 10. Svidler, 3.
L Aronian - M Vachier-Lagrave
Alekhine Memorial, (9)
1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 c4 Bg7 4 Nc3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 e4 Nxc3 7 bxc3 c5 8 Rb1 0–0 9 Be2 Nc6 10 d5 Ne5 11
Nxe5 Bxe5 12 Qd2 e6 13 f4 Bc7 14 0–0 exd5 15 exd5 Ba5 16 f5 Bxf5 17 Rxb7 Qf6 18 Rf3 Qe5 19 Bc4 Bc8 20 Rb3 Bc7 21 Qh6 Qe1+ 22 Rf1 Qe4 23 Bg5 Be5 24 Qh4 Qxh4 25 Bxh4 Bd6 26 Rf6 Be5 27 Rc6 Bd7 28 Ra6 Rfb8 29 Rxb8+ Rxb8 30 Rxa7 Bxc3 31 Rxd7 Rb4 32 d6 Rxc4 33 Be7 Kg7 34 Ra7 Rd4? 35 d7 Rd1+ 36 Kf2 c4 37 g3 Rd2+ 38 Kf3 Rd3+ 39 Kg2 Rd2+ 40 Kh3 Bf6 41 d8Q Rxd8 42 Bxd8 Bxd8 1–0