Leko grabs sole lead after another fightful round in Jermuk

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Jermuk GPIn another exciting round with six decisive games, Peter Leko grabbed sole lead at the Grand Prix in Jermuk. The Hungarian beat Cheparinov with the black pieces while Aronian suffered his second loss, with Black against Eljanov. The other leaders, Kasimdhzanov and Ivanchuk, drew in 20 moves.

The 5th tournament in the FIDE Grand Prix Series takes place in Jermuk, Armenia. It's a 14-player round-robin with Aronian, Jakovenko, Leko, Gelfand, Bacrot, Kamsky, Karjakin, Eljanov, Alekseev, Akopian, Ivanchuk, Cheparinov, Inarkiev and Kasimdzhanov. More info on the GP and Jermuk in our preview.

Round 7

The drawing perecentage in Jermuk has dropped to 55% and it's not even clear whether the Sofia Rule, always applied in the Grand Prix tournaments, has anything to do with it. The players are in a very fightful mood which led to six decisive games in the seventh round. It was also the second day in which local heros Levon Aronian and Vladimir Akopian both lost with the black pieces.

Eljanov-Aronian seemed to be steering to a relatively quick draw when an equal, Semi-Slav ending appeared on the board. The plan of running with the h-pawn probably didn't bring Aronian what he expected because it suddenly gave Eljanov some attacking chances along the g-file. In mutual timetrouble it was, as always, easier to attack than to defend, and at move 43 Aronian had to resign. An excellent result for Eljanov, who already showed progress in Nalchik and now continues in that direction.

Akopian was very close to the draw as well against Karjakin and only 51...Qxe4? was the first mistake - Black needs Bd7-e8 to defend against White's Qd8 & Nh6, and 51...fxe4 wouldn't have lost an important tempo. Bacrot scored his first win, against Jakovenko, and is back on 50%. In a Ragozin his advantage was small but long-lasting and especially 44.Qd3! was nasty; if Black trades then c6 will probably soon drop.

Kamsky wasn't very successful with his delayed Alapin as Alekseev quickly got the upper hand, with the bishop pair and more control in the centre. But was 35.Nxe5 really necessary? After 35.c5+ Qe6 36.Qxe6+ Kxe6 37.bxa6 White might lose both pawns, but even there he has drawing chances.

Inarkiev's poor form doesn't stop him from fighting; his opening choice of the King's Indian was admirable but perhaps something more solid would have been wiser. Gelfand responded with the Bayonet Attack and as so often in this line, natural moves are often enough for White to keep the advantage. Inarkiev defended well for a long time but his weak king couldn't survive in the long run.

Because Kasimdzhanov and Ivanchuk drew in just 20 moves (a welcome intermezzo especially for the Ukrainian after yesterday's marathon), Leko had a chance to grab sole lead, and he did, with the black pieces. It doesn't matter where or when Cheparinov plays; he's always a fighter and therefore always dangerous. But it also means you can play for a win with Black. The position after the queens were exchanged already looked a bit more comfortable for Leko, but even the rook ending probably should have been a draw. It's not exactly clear where Cheparinov made the decisive mistake.

Another excellent victory for Leko, who has shown the most stable, consistent form so far. If he starts winning with White as well, who will stop him?

Round 7 games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Round 7 Standings

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Schedule & results

All photos © Arman Kharakhanyan


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