Five-time winner Viswanathan Anand was held to a draw by Spaniard Alexei Shirov while top seed Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria lost to Russian Peter Svidler to liven things up in the 'A' group of the Corus International Chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands.
Having put in his best in the last two rounds, Anand could not do much against Shirov, as the latter was well-prepared to take on the Indian after regaining his form in the past few rounds.
Anand could not get a good position out of the opening and, in effect, it was a tame draw, forcing the Indian again on the back foot in the first big tournament of the year.
The draw saw Anand slipping to joint-fourth place on four points. He now needs victories in the last two rounds for a chance at shared top slot.
Despite the loss, Topalov maintained his sole lead on 7.5 points where he is now followed by Svidler and Azerbaijani sensation Teinour Radjabov on 7 points apiece. Anand is next in line on 6.5 along with Kramnik, in dire need of two wins to keep his hopes alive in the category-19 event.
In the 'C' group being held simultaneously, Parimarjan Negi settled for a draw with Dutch GM Zhaoqin Peng to take his tally to six6 points with two games to come.
International Master Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia staked his claim for the championship in this section with a fine victory over Swede GM Stellan Brynell that took his tally to an astounding 9.5 points out of a possible 11.
The Russian was followed by top seeded compatriot Michal Krasenkow on 8.5 points even as Negi remained on fourth spot.
Anand could not do much against a well-prepared Shirov in the Petroff defense game. The two had played some games in the past in this opening and a fresh discussion in one of the topical variations was on board wherein Shirov simply displayed his regained touch after a disastrous start in the tournament.
Anand tried to impose his game for quite some time but the position remained within the boundaries of a draw right through. The peace was formally signed after 30 moves.
Negi suffered for quite some time in an inferior position against Peng but remained in drawing distance in the longest game of the 'C' group in this round. The last game to end here took 66 moves and over six hours in all.
Results round 11 Group 'A': David Navara (Cze, 5) drew with Alexander Motylev (Rus, 4.5); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 5.5) drew with Sergei Tiviakov (Ned, 4.5); Viswanathan Anand (Ind, 6.5) drew with Alexei Shirov (Esp, 3.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 7) beat Sergey Karjakin (Ukr, 5); Maguns Carlsen (Nor, 3) playing Loek van Wely (Ned, 3.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 7) beat Veselin Topalov (Bul, 7.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 6.5) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 7).
Pairings Group 'C': Emanuel Berg (Swe, 7) drew with Thomas Willemze (Ned, 3.5); Manuel Bosboom (Ned, 5) lost to John van der Wiel (Ned, 4.5); Harmen Jonkman (Ned, 3.5) lost to Michal Krasenkow (Pol, 8.5); Edwin van Haastert (Ned, 5.5) drew with Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus, 4); Zhaoqin Peng (Ned, 5) drew with Parimarjan Negi (Ind, 6); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 9.5) beat Stellan Brynell (Swe, 3); Hou Yifan (Chn, 6.5) beat Wouter Spoelman (Ned, 5.5).