World champion Viswanathan Anand suffered a rare setback with white pieces and lost to Levon Aronian of Armenia in the second round of the Morelia-Linares chess tournament in Morelia (Mexico).
After a fine effort with black pieces in the first round that gave him a victory over Alexei Shirov of Spain, Anand miscalculated his chances in an intense middle game and went down after a fine attack by Aronian.
The Indian star remained on one point after the debacle and was relegated to the joint third spot.
Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and former World Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria were in joint lead on 1.5 points each after the former scored an emphatic victory over Hungarian Peter Leko while Topalov played out a draw with Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
The other game of the day between Shirov and young gun Magnus Carlsen of Norway also ended in a draw.
With 12 rounds remaining in the unique double-round robin tournament that is played first in Mexico and later at Linares in Spain, Anand shares third spot with Carlsen, Aronian and Leko while Radjabov and Shirov are at the bottom of the table with half point apiece.
Speaking about the strong field before the commencement of the tournament Anand had said, "There are eight players of the highest level (here) but if I have to pick someone I'd say Levon Aronian who just won in Wijk Aan Zee."
In the last year's event won by Anand, his lone loss had come at the hands of Aronian but then the Armenian talent was playing white.
On this occasion, Anand tried to test Aronian in the Marshall Gambit but things did not go as per plans.
As is typical of the opening, a wild middle game was reached where Anand misjudged a fine combination from Aronian involving an exchange sacrifice.
Aronian pounced on the opportunity and played a stunner on board on the 30th move. Soon white's king was looking for room with no respite in sight and took just four more moves for Aronian to complete the formalities.
If Aronian was in his attacking element, Ivanchuk was at his positional best in cruising past Leko from a seemingly innocuous opening variation.
Playing white, Ivanchuk went for the Ruy Lopez and gave up his queen early in the middle game for two rooks to get a slightly better position.
As Leko failed to produce the best defence thereafter, Ivanchuk tightened the noose with imaginative manoeuvres. The game lasted 48 moves.
Topalov showed faith in the Berlin Defence and did not have many difficulties in holding Radjabov to a draw after 43 moves.
The game between Shirov and Carlsen ended with repetition of moves from a Sicilian Kan game where the former played white.