World Champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw as black against World number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the seventh round of the 'A' group of 73rd Tata Steel Chess tournament at Wijk Aan Zee on Sunday.
With an easy outing that many pundits did not expect, Anand took his tally to five points out of a possible seven while Hikaru Nakamura of United States edged past him past the half way stage with a finely crafted victory over Jan Smeets of Holland.
With six rounds still to come, Nakamura is well in front on 5.5 points, a half point clear of Anand and a full point ahead of Levon Aronian of Armenia and Vladmirik Kramnik of Russia who both ended on the winning side in this round.
Aronian had a tough game against Alexander Grischuk of Russian in which the former came out with flying colours while Kramnik capitalised on superior opening preparation once again to beat young Dutch Anish Giri.
Playing the Sicilian Najdorf that gave him a fine victory against Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine earlier in the tournament, Anand faced a rather harmless setup by Carlsen.
The Norwegian went for fianchetto of the King's Bishop generally regarded as a positional manoeuvre aimed at causing the damage on the queen side.
Anand however was well armed as the pace of his moves showed and it was Carlsen in fact who took more time despite coming up with the 'opening surprise'.
The Indian ace parted with his Bishop for a Knight on the 11th move and seized the center with two pawns getting adequate play. Carlsen could not find anything better than trading the queens and reaching a level endgames a few moves later. The game lasted just 18 moves.
Foregoing a post-mortem, Carlsen quickly left the tournament hall after the game. Anand was asked whether he was hurrying to the marquee on the village commons in order to show the fans the ins and outs of his game. The world champion was not amused.
"I suspect the audience can do without an explanation today," he said.
The game of the day was awarded to Nakamura for his exemplary effort against Smeets. The American who recently broke in to the top ten world rankings went for the sharp Botvinnik variation and had to work hard in all departments of the game. In the end his three pawns proved stronger than Smeet's lone rook after 61 moves. Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly came up with an inspired effort to break out of the last spot in the 'B' group with a fine victory against Wouter Spoelman of Holland.
Playing white, Ganguly threw everything at the black king in a Sicilian Najdorf, sacrificed his queen to force matters.
The Indian got the best game of the day prize in this section which is now led joint by Wesley So of Philippines, Luke McShane of England and Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine.
In the 'C' group, International Master Tania Sachdev's aspiration to get her second Grandmaster suffered a blow as she was beaten by top seed Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan.
Tania had a dead drawn position in which the ticking clock did the trick for the Kazakh.