Monaco: World champion Viswanathan Anand played two draws with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the second round to occupy joint fourth spot in the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess tournament.
After a fine victory over Topalov in the first round, Anand could not break the ice against his 2007 World Championship challenger Kamnik and it was in fact the Russian who was seen pressing for advantage.
Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen of Norway came up with an inspired performance to down overnight joint leader Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan in both rapid and blitz games to emerge as one of the co-leaders.
Levon Aronian defeated Hikaru Nakamura of Unites States to also reach 3.5 points out of a possible four. The other leader is Alexander Grischuk of Russia who won the blindfold game to win his mini-match against Boris Gelfand of Israel by a 1.5-0.5 margin.
With the three leaders on 3.5 points, Anand shares the fourth spot along with Gelfand on 2.5 points in combined standings.
It is early days yet in this long tournament as 18 games still remain for each participant. This is the last edition of Amber following a tradition of 20 years.
Anand faced the English opening as black in the blindfold game that was the first to be played. The Indian ace came up with an interesting resource on the fourth move itself. Referring to his childhood years, when the variation with Anand`s fourth move was considered unsound.
With a big smile, Anand chimed in saying that indeed in his `teenage years` this had been the case. But as the game developed Kramnik was less certain of this childhood assessment and believed that Black was only slightly worse.
On the 17th move, Black gave up a pawn in the hope of creating an impregnable fortress. The question if he had really erected this fortress was the theme of a lively post-mortem after the game had ended in a draw. Various methods were tried for White to break through, but none of them was absolutely convincing.
It was a Queen`s gambit accepted by Kramnik which ended the game as drawn after 37 moves.
Anand admitted that the defence had been tough and annoying, but agreed with his opponent that White`s advantage had not been enough.
Kramnik was visibly more upset about the draw in the second game.
"You work hard to get an extra pawn and when you have it you just give it away in one move," the Russian commented shaking his head.
He was quick to add that he had never seen a forced win and suggested some improvements.