NEW DELHI: Viswanathan Anand inched closer to retaining the rapid title after beating Armenia's Levon Aronian for a two-point lead after nine rounds of the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament at Monaco on Tuesday.

After losing the blindfold encounter in 38 moves, Anand hit back in the rapid game in 57 moves.

In the overall standing, Anand shares the second spot with Vassily Ivanchuk. World champion Vladimir Kramnik stretched his lead to two points with two rounds to go.

The results (ninth round): Blindfold: Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) bt Viswanathan Anand (4), Peter Leko (Hun, 3) lost to Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 6); Boris Gelfand (Isr, 6) bt Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 3.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3.5) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 8); Peter Svidler (Rus, 6) drew with Loek van Wely (Ned, 2); Francisco Pons Vallejo (Esp, 2) drew with Alexander Morozevich (Rus, 5).

Rapid: Anand (7.5) bt Aronian (5.5); Ivanchuk (5.5) drew with Leko (5); Radjabov (3) drew with Gelfand (3.5); Kramnik (5.5) bt Carslen (4.5); Wely (3) bt Svidler (4); Morozevich (4.5) bt Vallejo (2.5).

Standings: 1. Kramnik (13.5), 2-3 Ivanchuk and Anand (11.5 each), 4. Aronian (10.5), 5. Svidler (10), 6-7 Morozevich and Gelfand (9.5 each), 8-9 Carlsen and Leko (8 each), 10. Radjabov (6.5), 11. Wely (5) and 12. Vallejo (4.5).

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