Monaco: World Champion Viswanathan Anand came back to sole third spot after defeating Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan 1.5-0.5 in the 10th and penultimate round of 20th and last edition of Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament.
Anand was held to a draw quite easily by Gashimov in the blindfold game but the Indian ace came up with a sterling performance in the rapid game as black to win the mini-match.
With just one round or two games to go in the 227000 Euros prize money tournament, Armenian Levon Aronian maintained his one point lead over Magnus Carlsen of Norway by disposing the challenge of former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria by 1.5-0.5 margin.
Carlsen, who scored a similar victory over Russian Alexander Grischuk was a bit unlucky not to be in joint leadas Aronian turned the tables on Topalov from a clearly worse position in the blindfold game.
For the records, Aronian has 14.5 points in his kitty while Carlsen is still in with a chance a full point behind.
With 11 points to his credit, Anand is only fighting for the third spot which could be his in case of a victorious effort against young Dutch talent Anish Giri in the final round.
Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine follows Anand a half point adrift while another half point separates him and Grischuk.
Aronian meanwhile won the blindfold section a round to spare. The Armenian took his tally to a massive 8 points out of a possible ten here and is two points ahead of nearest rival Anand.
In the rapid, Carlsen is already a winner on 8.5 points while Anand shares the fourth spot on 5 points so far the blindfold game between Anand and Gashsimov saw a brief theoretical discussion in the Petrify. The World Champion was
surprised by Azeri`s 13th move, which he had not checked before the game. The critical moment came three moves later, where he invested time to check if he could play for a win.
The variations he checked didn`t encourage Anand and fearing there might be a pitfall somewhere he chose the safer option which soon led to a draw.
It was a French Defence that gave Anand a pleasant position as black in the rapid game. He had the bishop pair and no complaints about his pawn structure. Gashimov called his 19th move a mistake and Anand agreed.
But White`s real problems started when he decided to burn his bridges and went for unwarranted complications hoping for counter play against the black king. This counter play he got but it didn`t compensate for the damage and Anand was allowed to do in the white camp by picking pawns at will. Gashimov
called it a day after 40 moves.
Combined standings after round 10: 1. Aronian 14.5; 2. Carlsen 13.5; 3. Anand 11; 4. Ivanchuk 10.5; 5. Grischuk 10;6-8. Gashimov, Gelfand, Nakamura 9.5 each; 9-10. Topalov, Karjakin 9 each; 11-12. Giri, Kramnik 7 each.