World champion Viswanathan Anand played out an exciting draw with Hikaru Nakamura of the United States in the eighth and penultimate round of the London Chess Classic, in London on Monday.
After a steady draw with Judit Polgar of Hungary in the previous round, it was a nerve-wracking game in which fortunes fluctuated many a times and the draw was probably a good result from a sporting point of view as both Anand and Nakamura missed many opportunities.
On a day when tournament leader Magnus Carlsen of Norway had a bye, Russian Vladimir Kramnik capitalised on his opportunities and crushed Gawain Jones of England. In the other games, English Michael Adams of England could not use his extra pawn to full use and split the point with Levon Aronian of Armenia, while Polgar scored her first victory at the expense of Luke McShane of England.
As things stand, Carlsen remains on 17 points after his bye and Kramnik narrowed the gap to remain within striking distance on 15 points. Adams, on 12 points, remained in third spot, two points ahead of Nakamura who enjoys a two-point advantage over Anand on fifth spot.
Aronian is in sixth followed by Polgar and McShane while Gawain Jones, with just three draws, is at the bottom.
With just one round to go, the stage is set for a fitting finale with Carlsen set to meet an off-colour Anand while Kramnik has a black game against Adams in the last round. In the event of Carlsen drawing with Anand and should Kramnik win, there will be an Armageddon game to determine the winner of this year's Classic.
Exactly a year ago on the same date, Nakamura had celebrated his birthday in style, defeating Anand at the same auditorium in the Olympia. The American, on his 25th birthday, was again Black against the world champion but a well-armed Anand looked set to avenge his defeat.
A strange Najdorf Sicilian led to a dynamic balance, which eventually reached an endgame where Anand had two rooks and two passed pawns against Nakamura's knight, bishop, rook and two passed pawns.
The fortunes changed hands many times from here. From what should have been a draw, Nakamura found himself in a dead-lost position and Anand returned the favour by first leading to a drawn position and further erred to find himself completely lost.
However, the drama continued as Nakamura could not find the precise manoeuvres and Anand managed to create a fortress. The game was finally drawn.
Kramnik had it easy with a thematic exchange sacrifice out of an irregular opening as white against Jones. The Englishman could have defended better but it was not his day.
Results (Round 8):
V Anand (Ind, 8) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 10); Levon Aronian (Arm, 7) drew with Michael Adams (Eng, 12); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 15) beat Gawain Jones (Eng, 3); Luke McShane (Eng, 5) lost to Judit Polgar (Hun, 5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 17) had a bye.
The moves (V Anand vs H Nakamura):
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. Bg5 Be6 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Nec3 Nd7 12. Bc4 g6 13. a4 Bh6 14. a5 Rc8 15. Ba2 O-O 16. O-O Kg7 17. b4 Rc6 18. Qd3 Qg5 19. Rfd1 Rfc8 20.Bb3 f5 21. exf5gxf5 22. Ne2 f4 23. Ndxf4 Bxb3 24. h4 Qg4 25. f3 Bxc2 26. fxg4 Bxd3 27. Nxh5+ Kg8 28. Rxd3 Bf8 29. Kh2 Rc4 30. Kh3 Rxb4 31. Rf3 Rc2 32. Nc3 e4 33. Rg3 Rd2 34. Re1 d5 35. Nf4 Rbd4 36. Ncxd5 Rxd5 37. Nxd5 Rxd5 38. Rxe4 Rxa5 39. g5 Ra3 40. Re8 Rxg3+ 41. Kxg3 b5 42. Rd8 Nc5 43. Rb8 Kf7 44. g6+ Kg7 45. Kg4 b4 46. h5 b3 47. Kf5 Bd6 48. Rb4 a5 49. Rb6 a4 50. Rxd6 b2 51. Rb6 a3 52. Kg5 Ne4+ 53. Kf4 a2 54. Rb7+ Kf8 55. Rxb2 a1=Q 56. Rb8+ Ke7 57. Kxe4 Qe1+ 58. Kf3 Qc3+ 59. Kg4 Qd4+ 60. Kh3 Qd3+ 61. Kh4 Qe4+ 62. g4 Qe1+ 63. Kh3 Qe3+ 64. Kh4 Qe1+ 65. Kh3 Qe3+ game drawn.