Seventh draw for Anand in Final Masters
Bilbao (Spain): World champion Viswanathan Anand played out his seventh draw in as many games, signing peace with world number two Levon Aronian of Armenia in the seventh round of the fifth Final Chess Masters here.
With his seventh draw, nothing changed for Anand as he remained clear fourth in the six-player double round-robin tournament and the Indian ace can now look up to the two white games coming his way out of the last three even though catching up at the top seems difficult.
Magnus Carlsen continued to excel in the Bilbao Leg of the super tournament and cruised home to his second win in as many games here.
At the receiving end was lowest-ranked Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain who appeared all at sea against the highest ranked player in the world.
The victory enabled Carlsen to catch Fabiano Caruana of Italy at the top of the table and if his form is any indication, the Norwegian seems set to win another strong tournament. Caruana played out a draw with Russian Sergey Karjakin in this round.
With just three rounds to come, Caruana and Carlsen are now tied at 12 points apiece under the soccer-like scoring system in place here that gives three points for a win and one for a draw.
A distant third at this stage is Aronian on nine points while Anand stands fourth with seven draws in as many games.
Russian Karjakin steered clear of Vallejo Pons on five points and he is now clear fifth in the six players meet. Vallejo Pons is now in the cellar with just four draws to his credit after seven games.
The event that started at Sao Paulo in Brazil and is set to conclude here, has begun to heat up now and the reason for that is Carlsen.
With a shocking first round loss against Caruana, the Norwegian looked out of sorts when the event was held at Sao Paulo but once back on his familiar European terrain, Carlsen looks the guy to catch while Caruana has had little to show here.
Anand, however, could not do much yet again but the draw was a just result coming easy against Aronian who played white.
Having seen Aronian`s way of treating the Ragozine defense in a different fashion earlier against Vallejo Pons, Anand was tempted to try the opening himself and it turned out to be a perfect decision.
Aronian, who recently guided Armenia to a gold medal in the Chess Olympiad, failed to get any dynamics rolling in his favour and after his sedate treatment, Anand had little to worry as the pieces flew off the board almost in a heap.
The players reached an opposite coloured Bishops endgame as a result of the exchange melee and there was no reason for either player to continue after just 33 moves.
Carlsen again got his typical variety of chess gunning for him.
Vallejo Pons was picked out for some adventures in a side variation of the French defense and Carlsen out-calculated him in the middle game.
Launching a king side attack by pushing pawns, Carlsen was able to create some definite problems for the Spaniard who simply cracked under immense pressure. Carlsen won a rook and then thwarted some checks to win in 42 moves.
Caruana played his first white under some pressure and did not pose any problems for Karjakin in a Berlin defense game.
The Russian equalised in the queen-less middle game after regulation exchanges and sacrificed an exchange in the final stages to restore parity. The game was drawn in 40 moves.