St. Louis: Former world champion Viswanathan Anand's hunt for an elusive victory continued as he was held to a draw by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in the fifth round of Sinquefield Cup, a part of the Grand Chess tour, here.
Getting his third draw besides two losses, Anand took his tally to 1.5 points out of a possible five and with just four rounds to come, the Indian needs some big wins to recover the lost ground.
World champion Magnus Carlsen meanwhile continued with his demolition act and downed Wesley So of United States to join Levon Aronian of Armenia in lead on 3.5 points.
The other overnight leader Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria suffered his first loss in the tournament as last year?s winner and local favourite Fabiano Caruana struck form.
While Aronian was held to a draw by Alexander Grischuk of Russia, American star Hikaru Nakamura?s attempt to dent the confidence of Dutch Anish Giri also did not materialise as this one too ended in a peace treaty.
With Carlsen now in front with Aronian, Topalov and Giri are sharing the third spot on three points each. Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave are next in the standing list a half point behind while the duo of Caruana and Grischuk share the seventh spot on two points each. Anand and Wesley so now occupy the bottom of the tables with 1.5 points each.
Anand came up with a surprise choice in the Sicilian Najdorf against Vachier-Lagrave. The quite approach led to quick exchange of pieces in the ensuing middle game and Anand had an extra pawn to his credit when the dust subsided.
Vachier-Lagrave, to his credit, however was not perturbed as his active pieces ensured enough counter-play despite the pawn deficit. Anand reached a rook and pawns endgame where he still retained the extra pawn but the nature of the position was closer to a draw always. The peace was signed after 42 moves.
Carlsen outplayed Wesley So out of an English attack with white pieces. The Filipino-turned American got a tenable position out of the opening but once Carlsen?s queen invaded the eighth rank the writing was already on the wall. In the endgame Carlsen?s technique was immaculate as he wrapped up the game in 56 moves.
Topalov suffered his first defeat missing on a slightly better position against Caruana. It was a Ruy Lopez wherein Topalov thought he was better and spurned down an opportunity to repeat moves. However, the Bulgarian made some unforced errors leading to wild complexities and eventually lost in 53 moves.
The games will now resume after the lone rest day slated on Friday. Anand will meet Giri in the sixth round.
Results round 5: Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3) lost to Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2); V Anand (Ind, 1.5) drew with Maxime Vachier -Lagrave (Fra, 2); Levon Aronian (Arm, 3.5) drew with Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 2); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3.5) beat Wesley So (Usa, 1.5); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 2.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 3).