It went from bad to worse for world champion Viswanathan Anand as he suffered a shocking loss at the hands of Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in the ninth and penultimate round of the fifth Final Chess Masters here.
Having drawn the first eight games of the tournament, Anand was expected to hold his own against Carlsen but the Indian ace cracked under pressure and went on to lose his first game in the tournament.
The loss has not only cost him valuable rating points but also put Anand in an unthinkable fifth spot in the six-player double round-robin tournament.
On what turned out to be the most exciting day of the event, Italian Fabiano Caruana punished Armenian Levon Aronian for an over-ambitious approach while local hopeful Francisco Vallejo Pons slipped from another highly promising position and went down to Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
With just one round to go, it’s Carlsen against Caruana for the top spot as they continue to share the lead on 16 points under the soccer-like scoring system that gives three points for a win and one for a draw.
These two are followed by Aronian on 10 points while Karjakin now stands fourth — a point behind the Armenian.
Anand with eight points is fifth, three points ahead of Vallejo Pons.
It turned out to be a forgettable day for Anand in the Sokolsky variation that Carlsen played against his Sicilian defence.
If Carlsen thought he had done his bit defeating the World champion he was in for a big surprise as Fabiano Caruana defeated Aronian in splendid fashion.
For Aronian, it was a shocking defeat while Italy’s first son in chess revelled in glory defeating another higher ranked player.
The victory also enabled Caruana to seal his place in the top-five of world rankings for now.
The results: ninth round: Magnus Carlsen (16) bt V. Anand (8); Sergey Karjakin (9) bt Francisco Vallejo Pons (5); Fabiano Caruana (16) bt Levon Aronian (10).