A methodical draw with the black pieces against Vladimir Kramnik reinforced Viswanathan Anand’s claim to the title after 11 rounds of the World Candidates chess tournament at Khanty Mansisyk, Russia, on Wednesday.

On a day when all four games were drawn, only Sergey Karjakin raised visions of a possible victory over Veselin Topalov. The sequence of results suited Anand who maintained his one-point lead over Levon Aronian. In the remaining three rounds, Anand plays twice with the white pieces.

Anand had reasons to be pleased with his 31-move draw. His joy was enhanced after the Peter Svidler-Aronian game ended in a draw after 33 moves.

Anand’s firm response in the Catalan game left Kramnik far from happy. The positional battle appeared to be heading for a draw much before the 30-move mark. Materially, Kramnik had two extra pawns but positionally, Anand enjoyed adequate compensation.

Before long, Anand recovered the pawns following a frequent exchange of pieces. Eventually, the players were left with ready-to-exchange queens, a rook and two king-side pawns when draw was agreed. In fact, the players reeled off the last few moves in a hurry, with Kramnik smiling at Anand, waiting to nod and sign peace.

“Maybe I overestimated the danger, but I did not like my position. I was so pessimistic that even when I was two pawns up, I was too worried,” said Kramnik.

Exciting draw

The game between Topalov and Karjakin was a thrilling one. Karjakin, down to 22 seconds for the 40th move at the first time-control, sacrificed a rook for a bishop.

He soon established passed pawns on the extreme files of the board but missed a possible winning continuation and let Topalov escape with a draw.

The results (11th round): Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5) drew with Viswanathan Anand (7); Peter Svidler (Rus, 5.5) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 6); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 4.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 5.5); Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 5) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5.5).

12th round pairings: Anand-Andreikin; Aronian-Kramnik; Topalov-Svidler; Mamedyarov-Karjakin.

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