Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand inched closer to clinching the Candidates Chess tournament title after settling for an easy draw as black against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the 11th round in Khanty Mansiysk.
With just three rounds to go, Anand maintained his full point lead over nearest rival Levon Aronian of Armenia and with two white games in hand out of the last three, there is little that can go wrong for the Indian ace.
On what turned out to be a pretty dull day, Russian PeterSvidler played out a draw with Aronian, Dmitry Andreikin signed peace with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan while Sergey Karjakin held his position against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria to get a half point.
With all games ending in draws, the leader-board did not see any change apart from the fact that everyone added to their overnight tally in this 600000 Euros prize money tournament that double up as the selection event for the next World Championship challenger.
Anand took his tally to seven points out of a possible 11 and Aronian remained his closest adversary with six points.
Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Svidler follow the Armenian a half point behind while Kramnik and Andreikin have five points in all. Topalov is on last spot with 4.5 points in his kitty.
Kramnik chose the Catalan opening with white pieces and the pressure of having lost the last two games weighed heavy on the Russian. Anand opted for a quite and fashionable system wherein Kramnik's attempt to complicate matters did not see the light of the day.
In the early middle game, Anand had a pawn weakness and instead of a passive defense, he sacrificed it for active counter play. Kramnik played on with an extra pawn but had to give it back to release the tension. Soon peace was signed in just 31 moves.
Peter Svidler's approach was cautious against Aronian after the latter parted with his Bishop for a Knight early in a Reti Opening. Playing white, Svidler allowed a symmetrical pawn structure on the board the rooks changed hands on the only open file leading to a level queen and minor pieces endgame. The players did not find a reason to continue after the queens also got traded and the draw was agreed to in 33 moves.
Sergey Karjakin had some chances after defending a slightly passive position for a long time. His opponent Veselin Topalov went for the English opening and faced the Hedgehog set up. Though Topalov had optically better prospects for the major part of the game, Karjakin also hung in there waiting patiently and making the right defensive moves.
After exchanging queens, Karjakin still had an unpleasant position but easier to defend. In his bid for complications, Topalov sacrificed a couple of pawns and Karjakin followed up with a counter rook sacrifice for a Bishop. While Karjakin came out with a miniscule advantage after the tactical sortie, Topalov was equal to the task in defense when situation demanded. The game lasted 57 moves.
Andreikin and Mamedyarov played a long theoretical variation in the Catalan opening where the former played white. The pieces got exchanged at regular intervals and in almost no time a minor pieces endgame was on board. Further liquidation led to another draw.
Image: Viswanathan Anand