London: World Champion Viswanathan Anand`s hope of catching up with his rivals has almost ended after he played out a draw with Levon Aronian of Armenia in the eighth round of London Chess Classics.
With his fourth draw in six games so far, Anand took his tally to seven points in the football-like scoring system in place.
The world champion had a solitary victory against Nigel Short of England, other than a loss against Hikaru Nakamura of United States.
In the open section, national champion Abhijeet Gupta scored a crushing victory over Gawain Jones of England to jump into sole lead with seven points out of a possible eight.
Grandmaster in the making, Sahaj Grover was lucky to score over Bjorn Thorfinnsson of Iceland in a keenly contested game.
Grover shares the second spot on 6.5 points along side English trio of Jovanka Houska, Peter Wells and Keith Arkell.
Meanwhile, in the Classic, the battle for supremacy heated up with three decisive games out of a possible four.
Hikaru Nakamura saw the action from sidelines as he got a bye and he saw as many as three players overtaking him in the points table.
Topping the list was Magnus Carlsen of Norway who scored over off-form Michael Adams of England, who in turn is having a torrid time at Olympia.
Carlsen was quite dissatisfied with his general form in this queen pawn game but around move 30 Adams missed the thread white`s position started to blossom.
Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Luke McShane of England also joined Carlsen atop the tables on 12 points following victories over Englishmen David Howell and Nigel Short respectively.
Nakamura remained on 11 points but is still in with a good chance for a tournament victory, while Anand and Aronian inched themselves up to seven points.
And while Short remained on four points, Adams and Howell are in last spot on three points each.
Anand followed on Aronian-Gelfand from the recent Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow, and equalised quite easily with black pieces.
The pieces got traded in tandem and there was a repetition of moves leading to an early draw.
"I didn`t get much out of the opening and I feel taking a risk was playing with fire in that position," Aronian explained after the game.
Much of the attention was focused on the game between Nigel Short and Luke McShane. Though modern view makes it `wrong but romantic`, Short quite often wheels it out when in a `devil may care` mood.
As it happened, McShane went on to record a fascinating victory after winning an exchange.
In the other game of the day, Kramnik showcased his superior technique to beat Howell.