Nanjing: World Champion Viswanathan Anand was held to a draw by Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan in the ninth and penultimate round of the Pearl Spring Chess tournament here.
Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen of Norway outplayed former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria to claim the title and also the winner’s cheque of Rs 50 lakh with one round still to come in the six-players double round-robin event.
For Anand it was the second draw with Gashimov in the tournament and this time the Indian ace had an easy time with his black pieces.
The other game of the day between Etienne Bacrot of France and Wang Yue of also ended in a draw.
With just one round to come, Carlsen has an unassailable lead of 1.5 points with 6.5 points in his bag now. Anand and Bacrot continued to share the second spot on five points each, while Gashimov moved up in standings to be sole fourth now on four points.
Topalov stands fifth on 3.5 points and Wang is in the cellar on three points now.
While the race for the title is over, Anand and Bacrot will meet for the decider of the second place in the final round.
Carlsen is set to play with Gashimov, while Wang will take on Topalov.
It was in the fifth round that Anand had met Gashimov.
Then the world champion was reeling from a blunder in the previous game against Bacrot and had allowed an easy escape to the Azeri player, who played back.
Today, playing black, Anand was not troubled much either. The flavour for the Indian against the King pawn opening has been the Berlin defense and he stuck to his guns while Gashimov tried to find some play in one of the side variations.
As it happened in the game, the pieces changed hands at regular intervals and Anand was never in any trouble. The players reached a drawn queen and pawns endgame and signed peace in 42 moves.
It was the usual story in Carlsen’s game against Topalov.
Playing black, the Norwegian faced a harmless set up in the Bogo Indian defense and just when everyone thought that a draw was the most likely result, Carlsen started to tighten the noose on both flanks.
The pressure, like in many other cases, became so strong that Topalov simply cracked and blundered on the 32nd move. It was all over in quick time thereafter.
Bacrot faced the Petroff defense as white against Wang, who equalised without much ado. The Chinese did not shy away from sacrificing a pawn in the middle game and Bacrot decided against taking any undue risk and drew in 27 moves.