Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands: World champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw with Grandmaster Peter Leko of Hungary in the ninth round of Tata Steel Chess tournament, here today.
Playing the black side of a Sicilian Najdorf, the Indian ace had little difficulty in maintaining the balance in an age-old variation and drew rather easily to take his tally to six points out of a possible nine.
Anand and Leko battled it out in a variation that both have employed with for many years in the past. If Leko had an idea he did not get the opportunity to show it as Anand was well armed and blitzed out the opening moves in quick time.
When the middle game arrived Anand went for a thematic pawn sacrifice that was promptly declined and when Leko finally captured the pawn the position was just equal offering little chances to either player.
The peace was signed in just 25 moves and this game was first to end in the day.
While the other games of the ninth round were still in progress, it appeared as though Magnus Carlsen would stretch his lead to a full point as the Norwegian held a superior position against former women?s world champion Yifan Hou of China.
As things stood before the start of the ninth round, Carlsen on six points enjoyed a half point lead over Anand who stood a half point adrift of Levon Aronian of Armenia and Hikaru Nakamura of United States.
The other Indian in the fray, P Harikrishna also enjoyed a good position as black against Sergey Karjakin of Russia. Harikrishna on 4.5 points is playing above his current rating and is set to become the third Indian to enter the 2700 ELO rating club ever after Anand and Krishnan Sasikiran.
It has been a very tough decision for me to make which is why I have given it so much thought since the World Cup.