The battle between the leaders Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian ended in a quick draw before the eighth round proved to be a tough one for the higher-rated players in the World Candidates chess tournament in Khanty Mansisyk, Russia, on Saturday.
With only last-man Sergey Karjakin pulling off a much-needed victory, in 82 moves, over fellow-Russian Peter Svidler, there was no change in standings involving the front-runners. Anand and Aronian continue to share the lead, with five points, followed by Vladimir Kramnik at 4.5.
This 19-move draw for Anand could well prove decisive should the current leaders tie for the title. The tournament rules consider the points scored in head-to-head encounters as the first tie-breaker.
Since Anand holds a 1.5-0.5 advantage over Aronian, he will take the title in case the two finish equal first.
Over the board, Aronian seemed to have messed up the initial lines of Reti Opening. His decision to bring out his queen on the third move saw Anand sacrifice a queen-side pawn on the sixth move for the development of his pieces.
Soon it became clear that Anand had ample compensation for the sacrificed-pawn as he controlled more space. Before long, the game was drawn with the players repeating their moves.
“When the game finished, Aronian said he was worse” said Anand after the match but was quick to add in jest, “but you never know whether to believe him.”
Later, Kramnik was tested by young Dmitry Andreikin in their 32-game deadlock. However, Svidler was not so lucky against Karjakin in the other game involving the Russians.
Eighth round: Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) drew with Viswanathan Anand (5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 4.5) drew with Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 3.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 3.5) lost to Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3.5); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3.5) drew Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3.5).
Ninth round pairings: Anand-Topalov; Mamedyarov-Aronian; Karjakin-Kramnik; Andreikin-Svidler.