NEW DELHI: Vassily Ivanchuk dealt a crushing blow to Viswanathan Anand’s hopes of remaining in the title-hunt by inflicting a surprise defeat in their rapid game in the ninth round of the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament in Nice, France, on Tuesday.

When the action resumed after a day of rest, overnight leader Levon Aronian defeated former champion Alexander Morozevich 2-0 to open a 2.5-point lead at the top with two rounds to go.

Aronian shares lead

Aronian shares the lead in blindfold and leads by two points in rapid.

Anand drew the blindfold game quickly in just 16 moves. In the rapid game, Anand blundered with a bishop-move on the 17th turn and lost a pawn.

Anand could never bounce back and eventually resigned after 33 moves.

The results: Ninth round:

Blindfold: Viswanathan Anand (4.5) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 4.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 2.5) lost to Loek van Wely (Ned, 4); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 5) drew with Boris Gelfand (Isr, 3).

Peter Leko (Hun, 5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Ukr, 4); Alexander Morozevich (Rus, 5.5) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 5.5).

Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5.5) bt Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5).

Rapid: Ivanchuk (5) bt Anand (4.5); Wely (3.5) drew with Mamedyarov (4); Gelfand (4) drew with Topalov (4.5); Karjakin (4) drew with Leko (5).

Aronian (7) bt Morozevich (3); Carlsen (5) drew with Kramnik (4.5).

Combined standings (after nine rounds): 1. Aronian (12.5), 2-4. Carlsen, Kramnik, Leko (10 each), 5-6. Ivanchuk, Topalov (9.5 each), 7. Anand (9), 8. Morozevich (8.5), 9. Karjakin (8), 10. Wely (7.5), 11. Gelfand (7), 12. Mamedyarov (6.5).

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