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Anand draws, yet again

Paris: World champion Viswanathan Anand played out his third draw on the trot, signing peace with joint-leader Maxime Vachier-Lagraev of France in the fourth round of Alekhine Memorial Chess tournament in progress here.

Anand went for an age-old variation in the semi-slav defense and drew without much sweating. The day provided just one decisive game and the beneficiary was Levon Aronian of Armenia, who capitalised on a positional error by Russian Peter Svidler.

In other games of the day, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia split points with Ding Liren of China, Nikita Vituigov of Russia drew with Boris Gelfand of Israel while Frenchman Laurent Fressinet let Michael Adams off the hook before taking the half point.

Aided by the victory, Aronian joined Adams, Vachier-Lagraev and Gelfand in lead on 2.5 points from four rounds and the quartet are now followed by Kramnik, Liren and Fressinet on two points apiece.

With five rounds still to go, Anand remains on joint eighth spot along with Vituigov while Svidler slipped to the bottom of the standings with one point in his bag.

Anand’s semi-slav defense turned out to be rock solid against Vachier-Lagraev. Parting with a pawn typical of a popular variation, Anand went for quick exchanges and even though the local star pushed hard, the Indian was never in any trouble.

With fine technique, Anand converted to a rook and pawns endgame where whites extra pawn was inconsequential. Peter Svidler employed his trusted Grunfeld but made an error in the middle game that cost him dearly. Aronian was quick to pounce on the chance offered and got a stable advantage thereafter.