World champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw with Grandmaster Peter Leko of Hungary to remain second after the ninth round of the Tata Steel Chess tournament.
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.
Norwegian world number one Magnus Carlsen defeated Yifan Hou of China to increase his lead by a full point lead over Anand.
The lead position remained unchanged as the only other decisive result came in the all-Dutch duel between Ivan Sokolov and Loek Van Wely wherein the latter attested his supremacy.
Levon Aronian of Armenia and Hikaru Nakamura remained in joint third spot on 5.5 points following draws with Dutchmen Erwin L’Ami and Anish Giri respectively.
Grandmaster P Harikrishna remained on course for his best performance ever after drawing with Sergey Karjakin of Russia and the Indian shares the fifth spot along with the Russian on five points.
Leko, Fabiano Caruana of Italy and Van Wely are jointly on sixth spot on five points, a half point ahead of Wang Hao.
Giri is 10th on 3.5 and L’Ami is on his toes with three points. With just four rounds to come, there seems little chance for recovery for Hou and Sokolov who both are tied last on 2.5 points apiece.
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.
Magnus Carlsen defeated former women’s world champion Yifan Hou. The Chinese girl decided to give Carlsen a taste of his own medicine as she went for the Ponziani opening but her efforts to go for wild complexities only proved dubious as Carlsen emerged with an extra pawn after the dust settled.
A shocker on move 33 left Hou to defend a very unpleasant endgame and it was all over in 66 moves.
The other Indian in the fray, P Harikrishna enjoyed a good position as black against Sergey Karjakin.
It was strange choice by Karjakin in the Berlin defense as white and only Harikrishna was pressing for more. In the end the Russian had to come up with some precise defense to hold his position together.
Harikrishna 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.
Results round 9: Peter Leko (Hun, 4.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 6); Yifan Hou (Chn, 2.5) lost to Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 7); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 5) drew with P Harikrishna (Ind, 5); Ivan Sokolov (Ned, 2.5) lost to Loek Van Wely (Ned, 4.5); Erwin L’Ami (Ned, 3) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 5.5); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 5.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 3.5); Wang Hao (Chn, 4) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 4.5).
The moves: Peter Leko -- V Anand 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Bc1 Nf6 8. f3 e5 9. Nb3 Be6 10. Be3 Be7 11. Qd2 O—O 12. O—O—O Nbd7 13. g4 b5 14. Rg1 Nb6 15. Na5 Rc8 16. g5 Nh5 17. Kb1 Nf4 18. a3 Qc7 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. Nd5 Bxd5 21. exd5 Qc5 22. Rg4 Rfe8 23. h4 Bf8 24. Rxf4 Nxd5 25. Nb3 game drawn.