Defending champion Viswanathan Anand won an engrossing battle with World Cup winner Levon Aronian of Armenia to remain in joint lead after the blindfold game in the 10th and penultimate round of Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament in Monaco.
Being in joint-lead with Russian Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich before the start of this round meant that Anand had to win with his white pieces against Aronian after Morozevich achieved the same against Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk.
Though the two wins by the leaders made little difference in the blindfold standings, it kept Anand in race for the title.
With just three games or one-and-a-half rounds to come in the annual event, both Anand and Morozevich have an identical score of 13 points so far and for sure the battle royale is going to boil down to the last round, when the Indian ace will be under more pressure to perform against reigning World champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
Anand defeated Aronian in a technical battle arising out of a Ruy Lopez game in style. Slated to play black in the return rapid game, Anand knew his chances lay in the blindfold game and he exploited them fully to register a fine victory against the Armenian super talent in 73 moves.
Morozevich, however, was quicker in his demolition act against Ivanchuk as he won after 50 moves of a Sicilian defense game.
With the victory Morozevich's supremacy in the blindfold section of the Euro 216000 event remained uncontested as the Russian made sure of his title triumph in this section with almost two games to spare.
With one more game still in hand in this category, Morozevich has amassed a whopping 8.5 points and nearest rival Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain is two points behind him.
Blindfold round 10: Alexander Grischuk (Rus) beat Peter Leko (Hun); Alexander Morozevich (Rus) beat Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp) beat Loek Van Wely (Ned) Peter Svidler beat Peter Heine Nielsen (Den); Viswanathan Anand beat Levon Aronian, Levon (Arm); Boris Gelfand (Isr) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul).
Blindfold standings after round 10: 1. Morozevich 8.5; 2. Vallejo Pons 6.5; 3. Anand 6.0; 4-5. Grischuk, Svidler 5.5 each; 6-7. Gelfand, Leko 5; 8. Van Wely 4.5; 9. Topalov 4; 10. Nielsen 3.5; 11-12. Ivanchuk, Aronian 3 each.
Rapid Standings Round 9: 1. Anand 7; 2-4. Aronian, Vallejo Pons, Topalov 5 each; 5-6. Morozevich, Grischuk 4.5 each; 7-10. Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Van Wely, Leko 4 each; 11-12. Nielsen, Svidler 3.5.
Combined Standings Round 9: 1-2. Morozevich, Anand 12 each; 3. Vallejo Pons 10.5; 4-5. Grischuk, Leko 9 each; 6-8. Gelfand, Van Wely, Topalov 8.5 each; 9-10. Svidler, Aronian 8 each; 11-12. Nielsen, Ivanchuk 7 each.